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Photo credit: YINGPIS KALAYOM VIA UNSPLASH

11 things you should know before getting braces

From dealing with pain to eating without getting food stuck in your braces, here are some tips to make the teeth straightening process easier.

Shannon Kuan

Weird talents include playing the violin, but with a ukulele and a clothes hanger.


Published: 12 November 2020, 9:41 AM

Having crooked teeth is actually pretty common and nothing to be ashamed of.  

At the same time, wanting braces to fix them is completely fine too. 

While some may not be bothered with how their teeth look, others may be insecure about it or even find it a hindrance for more severe cases, thus the need for braces appears.

Here are some tips to hopefully educate and sooth your worries if you are a newcomer to getting braces:

1. There are different types of braces suited to different preferences

There are actually many different kinds of braces.

The most common one is metal braces which are the cheapest option but also the most obvious-looking. 

There are clear aligners such as Invisalign that are more subtle. 

Lingual braces are less common and are just metal braces but placed on the back of the teeth instead of the front where it’s more noticeable. 

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces but with clear or tooth-coloured brackets, making it less visible.

 

While most people require braces to fix crooked teeth, some wouldn’t mind paying extra for aesthetic purposes. PHOTO CREDIT: CANDID VIA UNSPLASH

 

Through personal preference, some may dislike how they look like with metal braces on and thus opt for subtler options like ceramic braces or clear aligners which are more costly and may take a longer duration to align one’s teeth.

If you don’t care about aesthetics and would rather focus on practicality, then go for the cheaper option of normal metal braces. 

2. What are the steps before putting on braces

The process may vary depending on your teeth structure, the type of braces and the dentist that you visit.

I had x-rays conducted to check the bone structure of my jaw, then had four of my teeth extracted. The dentist then created an impression of my teeth by placing molds inside my mouth, on my upper and lower jaw.

Teeth extraction varies across different people. Some may not even require any teeth to be taken out, while others have to extract two or four teeth. Usually, this is so as the teeth are too crowded together, thus removing some will help the other teeth to spread out evenly among the gums.

Don’t worry, the dentist usually extracts the premolars, which aren’t as visible when you talk or smile. So if yours do get extracted, the gap between your teeth won’t be obvious. And eventually, braces will help your teeth close that gap!

3. Everyone experiences different amounts of pain/uncomfortability

The biggest worry for most braces newbies is if braces will hurt. Personally, my braces have never caused me pain, although I have had some uncomfortable moments occasionally.

 

Honestly, the part about braces I disliked the most was the process before they were put on. PHOTO CREDIT: H SHAW VIA UNSPLASH

 

Before extracting teeth, the dentist would administer anesthesia through inserting it into the gums to numb the pain. 

While the actual removal of teeth was painless and just felt like a tug, the feeling of the anesthesia needle going into my gums felt jarring and uncomfortable. Additionally, my entire mouth went numb for a few hours until the anesthesia wore off and it was a very salivary mess. 

On the rare occasion when my braces wires would stick out and poke the inside of my mouth, I would simply put a small ball of wax — which your dentist should provide — and cover the exposed metal wire so it will no longer feel uncomfortable.

Oftentimes, my teeth and gums felt more sensitive after each braces tightening session. As my pain tolerance is relatively higher, I had no problems with eating and even ate steak once right after I tightened my braces. 

However, others might find chewing a harder process. A friend of mine lost a substantial amount of weight because he could consume only soft foods as his staple due to his braces.

This definitely doesn’t occur for everyone so fret not, you can still enjoy your tough meats and chewy snacks eventually.

4. Eating will become a chore

Eating definitely becomes a tougher process when you have braces because food gets stuck easily between the wires of your braces.

As there are an abundance of small gaps in between the connected wires, I always manage to find morsels of food I ate hours ago. But instead of trying to hopelessly shimmy it out with my tongue, I have my trusty dental brush pick.

Your dentist should provide you with a free set of brush picks, thankfully. They are like toothpicks, but with soft bristles that help you get into the crevices of your braces and dig the food out.

 

Some come in different brush sizes to suit your cleaning needs. PHOTO CREDIT: PEARLIE WHITE

 

I would never leave my house without my dental brush pick now.

5. Avoid certain foods

It is advised to avoid chewing gum if you have metal braces on. This is because gum, especially bubble gum, is sticky and there is a chance that the gum could get stuck in the braces brackets and wires, resulting in an unplanned trip to the dentist.

 

But if you are desperately craving for gum, go for sugarless chewing gum. PHOTO CREDIT: ALEKS DOROHOVICH VIA UNSPLASH

 

If you rely on caffeine, brace yourself. Coffee and tea are known to stain one’s teeth and braces, so braces wearers should drink less caffeine if they want to keep their braces clean.

Curry is also infamous for staining braces yellow, especially if you have white braces on. So if you do, maybe eat your prata plain and skip the curry.

6. What are the best colours to choose

My favourite thing about my monthly braces check ups are being able to pick a new colour to adorn my teeth.

While being able to choose from a range of colours seems fun, did you know that there are specific colours that look best on your teeth?

 

Although the colours may look pretty now, they can fade and stain with time. PHOTO CREDIT: CUMBERLAND DENTAL

 

Black, brown, green and yellow could make your teeth look dirty and stained. White also sounds like a great subtle colour until they get stained yellowish from certain foods.

Generally, dark colours actually can make one’s teeth appear whiter, while lighter colours can make teeth look yellower.

It’s also fun to match your braces colours with certain festivities such as red and green for Christmas, match your braces with the colour palette of your outfits, or pick colours that complement your eye colour and skin tone.

Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist to mix and match colours! It won’t be much of a hassle.

7. Don’t use whitening toothpaste

While whitening toothpaste may sound like a good idea, they won’t be the moment you remove your braces and realise that your teeth are an uneven colour.

Sure, whitening toothpaste can help whiten your teeth but it won’t be able to reach the parts that your braces brackets are stuck to, ending up in yellower spots in between your teeth!

8. You have to diligently wear your rubber bands

I know the process of having to put on and take out rubber bands every day in between meals sounds like too much off a hassle, but they will speed up the process of aligning your teeth.

 

Be careful when stretching your mouth too wide because the rubber bands might snap — don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. PHOTO CREDIT: BELMAR ORTHODONTICS

 

They can feel restricting sometimes but it definitely feels better than lying to your dentist when they ask if you have been wearing your rubber bands every day.

9. The duration of wearing braces vary across different people and their teeth

On average, those who have braces usually wear them up to two years, for around 18 to 24 months. However, treatment could take up to three years for those with more severe cases and misaligned teeth.

Ultimately, it’s all up to how fast your teeth close up and skipping wearing your rubber bands will slow down the process.

10. Why retainers are important after braces get taken out

Don’t rejoice too soon if you get your braces taken out! You will have to get used to retainers now.

Retainers help ensure your newly aligned teeth remain straight and in their new positions. Typically, they are worn for around a year but thankfully they are removable. It is advised to wear your retainers daily until a few months of progress, then you can drop to wearing them nightly.

 

They may cause you to speak with a slight lisp but are essential in keeping your teeth in position. PHOTO CREDIT: INVISALIGN

 

 Don’t lose your months of progress by forgoing your retainers!

11. There is nothing to be insecure about

While it is a stereotype that ‘nerds’ or ‘geeks’ typically don braces, there is actually nothing bad about them. They help align your teeth and it is a process you have to go through if you want to achieve straight teeth.

Although we mostly see children wearing braces, it’s completely normal to get braces as an adult! There is no correct age to get braces and it isn’t too late to get your teeth fixed if you want to. 

 

You shouldn’t be embarrassed about wearing braces or retainers because you look good regardless! PHOTO CREDIT: SHARON MCCUTCHEON VIA PEXELS

 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with crooked teeth too. Ultimately, braces are all for aesthetic purposes and wanting to have a stereotypically ‘better’ smile.

No matter what you have: crooked teeth, braces, or straight pearly whites, wear your smile with pride!


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