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While braces may be an old standby when it comes to straightening smiles, they’ve come a long way in how they improve the function and aesthetic of your teeth. With advancements in technique and technology, braces can do the same thing they’ve always done–using constant, gentle pressure to gradually move teeth and jaws into the proper alignment–but with better results and a better experience.

At Monarch Dental, we know that confidence is the secret to a great smile, and that’s why we’re proud to offer braces and orthodontic treatment as part of our comprehensive dental care services.* From cleanings and checkups to braces and clear aligners, we’re here to help make sure that the smile you show the world is both beautiful and healthy.

*Orthodontic treatment is not available at all locations. Check with the office nearest you for more information.

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How do I know if I need braces?

If you’re feeling self-conscious about your teeth or are experiencing problems with your bite, you may be a good candidate for braces. You can discuss these concerns with your dentist during one of your regular visits, and he or she can refer you to an orthodontist who specializes in treating misalignment in the teeth and jaws. 

You may be a good candidate for braces if:

  • You are between the ages of 10 and 14 with concerns about overcrowding or a misaligned bite. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 are the largest demographic of orthodontic patients. Because the facial structure of young adults is still growing and developing, the teeth and jaws can usually be moved more easily than an adult and will respond well to treatment. 
  • You are an adult that has misaligned jaws, or teeth that are crooked, crowded, misaligned, or have shifted after earlier treatment. Whether it’s the first or second time you’ve worn braces, orthodontic treatment can help make sure your teeth and jaw are properly aligned, ensuring good oral health as you age. 
  • You have overcrowded teeth. Overcrowding occurs when the mouth is too small or narrow to accommodate all the teeth that are erupting or have already erupted. Overcrowding can lead to crooked teeth and poor oral health since crowded teeth can overlap and be difficult to care for. It can also place additional strain on the jaw.
  • You have an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. A misaligned bite can cause uneven wear and tear on teeth and strain the muscles of the jaw. A properly aligned bite can help you avoid larger health problems in the future, like TMJ.

What are my options for braces?

There are several different options for braces, but they all work in essentially the same way by slowly shifting your teeth in the proper position and alignment with constant, gentle pressure. At Monarch Dental, our orthodontists will work with you to find the type of braces that are right for you. The most common types of braces are traditional metal, ceramic, and lingual.

  • Metal braces consist of metal brackets that are adhered to the front of the teeth. A wire called an archwire is threaded through the brackets and tightened as the orthodontist makes adjustments. 
  • Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces but have ceramic brackets instead of metal. These brackets are less noticeable and more discreet, blending in better with the natural color of your teeth.
  • Lingual braces are metal braces, but they adhere to the back of the teeth rather than the front. 

How are braces put on my teeth?

Before you get braces, you’ll have an initial consultation with your orthodontist followed by X-rays. This will allow your orthodontist to determine the best treatment plan to correct your particular concerns. The braces will be placed during a separate appointment, and here’s what you can expect:

  • Prep. Your teeth are thoroughly cleaned by a dental hygienist to ensure there is no plaque buildup beneath the brackets.
  • Bonding. Using a dental grade bonding glue, the metal or ceramic brackets are attached to the surface of the tooth.
  • Threading. Once all the brackets have been secured to your teeth, the archwire is carefully threaded through each bracket to connect them. 
  • Rubber bands. Rubber bands will be hooked onto the brackets to keep the appliances secure and apply the appropriate amount of pressure.

Once the braces are placed, you’ll return to the orthodontist every 6-8 weeks for adjustment appointments, during which the archwire will be adjusted and new bands will be attached.

After your treatment, when the braces are removed, your teeth will be cleaned, polished, and fitted for a retainer. Some retainers are removable and worn several hours a day, while other retainers are permanently affixed to the back of the teeth. Both help to preserve the results from your orthodontic treatment.

Are braces painful?

While you may experience some mild to moderate discomfort and sensitivity when you first get your braces on and following adjustment appointments, this is temporary and should subside once your teeth have gotten used to the new pressure being applied by the braces. 

You should not feel excessive pain with braces, and most patients can manage the discomfort and sensitivity with:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
  • Ice packs on the outside of the mouth
  • Oral anesthetics such as orajel
  • Rinsing with warm saltwater
  • Drinking ice water

Braces can also cause discomfort to the soft tissues of the mouth. Your gums, lips, and cheeks aren’t quite used to having something metal rubbing against them all day long, so you may notice some sores or irritation. Your orthodontist should provide you with dental wax that can be placed over the brackets to prevent irritation. If the pain persists and is keeping you from normal function, call your orthodontist; the braces may need some adjustments.

How do I care for my braces?

Caring for your braces is critical for keeping your treatment on track and maintaining healthy teeth while you correct your smile. Bacteria already hide in the tight, hard-to-clean spaces of your teeth, and with braces, there are many more places for bacteria to accumulate, increasing your risk of decay and cavities. Good dental hygiene habits are already important, but they are even more so with braces. Below are things you should continue to do when wearing braces.

  • Brushing. To brush most effectively, move a soft-bristled toothbrush in a vertical motion, rather than a side-to-side motion. You’ll want to make sure that you’re brushing all sides of the bracket. Be sure to brush the gum line and the inner surfaces as well.
  • Flossing. Begin by threading the floss through the space between the archwire and the tooth. Once threaded, you can slide the floss between the teeth and gently up into the gum line. This task may be challenging but flossing is a critical part of oral care and should not be skipped. 
  • Mouthwash. If you’re not already using mouthwash in your oral hygiene routine, getting braces is a great reason to start. Mouthwash gets into the nooks and crannies your toothbrush and floss can’t reach and helps remove any remaining bacteria that may have been missed during brushing and flossing.
  • Wearing a mouth guard. If you are involved in athletics or are a particularly active person, ask your orthodontist about being fitted for a mouth guard to protect both your braces and your mouth from damage or injury.
  • Avoiding certain foods. One important way you can protect your braces is by avoiding certain foods. You should avoid sticky or tough foods such as candies, gum, beef jerky, or corn on the cob. Additionally, avoiding crunching foods like ice, popcorn, hard vegetables, nuts and chips will help protect your braces from damage and reduce the number of times you have to visit your orthodontist for repairs and maintenance. 

Find Your Best Smile with Braces from Monarch Dental

Whether you want a more beautiful smile or just better oral health, braces can address a wide range of dental concerns. Monarch Dental makes it easy, convenient, and affordable for you and your family to have the straight, healthy smiles you deserve, with multiple locations, flexible scheduling, and a variety of payment and financing options. 

Find the Monarch Dental location nearest you and schedule an appointment today for a no-obligation orthodontic consultation. We can’t wait to give you a smile you can share with confidence!