The Ultimate Guide to Braces, Step by Step - Thomas Orthodontics

The Ultimate Guide to Braces, Step by Step

Smiling woman researching braces.

Even though you know you want to straighten your teeth, getting braces can be overwhelming. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help ease your mind. Read on to find out all about what happens before, during, and after your treatment so you will be more relaxed with the process.

Initial Consultation

The first step in orthodontic treatment is finding an experienced orthodontist you feel comfortable with. We invite you to browse our website to learn more about Thomas Orthodontics and our services and see if you think we are a good fit. Our orthodontic offices are located in Naperville, Hinsdale, and Oak Lawn for your convenience.

At your first appointment, we will take x-rays and examine your teeth. You will likely come back for a second appointment, at which time your orthodontist will discuss your case in more detail and recommend a course of treatment. Either appointment is a good opportunity to ask any questions and voice concerns you have.

Before your braces are placed, you may require preparatory treatment. For example, your orthodontist might need to create space so your teeth will have room to shift into the proper positions. This could mean a tooth extraction, an expander, a retainer, or another form of treatment.

Getting Your Braces On

Once any preliminary treatment is complete, it’ll be time for the big appointment: the day you get your braces on. Your orthodontist may advise you to take an aspirin before your appointment to ease potential discomfort.

It’s okay to eat a celebratory meal before getting your braces on. This is a great way to say a temporary farewell to foods that aren’t safe or comfortable to eat with braces.

Your braces will be placed in just a few simple steps. The orthodontist will:

  • Clean and dry your teeth.
  • Apply bonding glue and attach the brackets.
  • Place the wires against the brackets (one wire for your upper teeth and one for your lower) and secure them will elastic bands in the color of your choosing.

Getting your braces put on may be uncomfortable but should not be painful. You may experience soreness for 2-3 days, but your teeth will be feeling normal again within a week. If your braces are bothering your cheeks or tongue after the appointment, you can apply a small ball of dental wax (you can get some at Thomas Orthodontics) to the bracket or wire. If discomfort persists, let us know, as your wire may be too long and need to be clipped.

Foods To Avoid While Wearing Braces

You will need to avoid certain foods during your treatment. It may be helpful to think of this as an opportunity to cut out some treats that aren’t so great for you or your health. And remember, it is only temporary. With braces, you should avoid the following:

  • Sticky candy or food – Primarily taffy, gum, jolly ranchers, or other candies with similar consistencies
  • Very hard or very crunchy food – Ice, large pretzels, crusty bread
  • Foods you bite directly into – Corn on the cob, candy apples

Foods To Enjoy While Wearing Braces

After getting your braces on and getting them adjusted each month, you may feel uncomfortable for a few days. If you are sore, stick with softer foods like pudding, Jell-O, soups, applesauce, soft fruits, pasta, cooked white rice, muffins (without nuts), soft meats and seafood, and steamed or mashed veggies.

Taking Care of Your Braces During Orthodontic Treatment

You will see your orthodontic treatment speed along by taking care of your brackets and wires, practicing great oral hygiene, keeping your monthly appointments, and protecting your braces when necessary.

  • Brush and floss well and carefully. Discoloration or cavities can happen during treatment as a result of plaque buildup. If you struggle with brushing or flossing, consider an electric toothbrush or flossing aid.
  • Wear your rubber bands as instructed. Correct wear of rubber bands will move your teeth on schedule. Neglecting to wear them could lengthen your treatment.
  • Keep your monthly appointments. Your braces will need to be monitored and adjusted monthly for your teeth to shift correctly and consistently.
  • Wear a mouth guard when playing sports. Damaging your braces can be painful and slow treatment. A mouth guard will keep them safe.
  • See your orthodontist right away if a wire or bracket is displaced so we can keep your treatment on track.

Getting Your Braces Off

Searching Google may say having braces removed is painful, and we’re here to tell you – it’s not! Removing your brackets and bands is delicate work but not uncomfortable for the patient. There are a few points you should remember for after your braces are removed:

  • Your final braces appointment is not your final orthodontic appointment. Although you will no longer need monthly appointments to receive new wires, we will want to monitor your progress after braces and make sure your teeth are behaving properly and remaining in their new spots.
  • Wear your retainers as instructed. Your retainer wear time will decrease as the months go by, and retainers are key for keeping your teeth from reverting back.
  • Cavities or white spots might occur if you weren’t diligent about your oral hygiene. Visiting your dentist will allow you to take care of these issues quickly.
  • Your teeth and bite will feel a bit different, and some patients report being a little taken aback by the “slimy” feeling of their teeth. Don’t worry, that feeling will go away, and most of our patients are simply thrilled to be bracket-free!

If you are ready to start your journey to straighter teeth with braces or our other treatment options, set up that initial appointment today!