If you’re reading this, you've probably already decided to get braces. Congratulations! Now, you're wondering what it’s like to get braces. Is it painful when braces are put on? Is it possible to go two years without eating popcorn? Even if you're going to the movies?!
In this post, we’ll address some of our patients' most common concerns about getting braces. Spoiler alert: It’s not as bad as you might fear, and the end results are well worth the time and effort.
Your Teeth Will Be Sore
Are braces painful? Everyone perceives pain differently, so it’s hard to answer this question, but we would describe the discomfort you feel with braces as soreness rather than pain.
It's only natural that you'll feel some tightness when getting braces because the brackets and wires put gentle, constant pressure on your teeth in order to move them. Tension headaches are also common as a result of this. The pressure will be the most noticeable just after you get your braces and each time you come in to have your wires tightened or adjusted. When you experience this discomfort, use an over-the-counter pain medication and eat soft foods until it subsides.
Orthodontic Emergencies Do Happen
Brackets loosen and fall off. Wires pop out. It happens to everyone, and it's important to let Dr. Stachel know when it does.
She might tell you not to worry about it and that we'll take care of it the next time we see you, or she might have you come in right away so we can fix it. If you go a few weeks without letting us know you’ve lost a bracket, though, that missing piece can be a setback for your treatment and ultimately it may mean extending the amount of time you need in braces.
Some Foods Will Be Off-Limits
Following the dietary recommendations we provide is the best way to avoid the orthodontic emergencies and damaged brackets we discussed in the previous section. We see a lot of broken orthodontia after patients eat foods that are either too hard or too chewy. Everyone knows not to eat popcorn or chew gum, but apples and carrots should be cut up into bite-sized pieces rather than bitten into whole, hard nuts like almonds should be avoided, and even tough cuts of meat and jerky can break off brackets.
Dental Hygiene Is Harder––and More Important Than Ever
The last thing you want is for Dr. Stachel to remove your braces in a year or two and discover that your teeth are stained––or, worse, that you have cavities. But that's what happens if you don't care for your teeth properly while wearing braces. We know flossing and brushing around all those brackets and wires is a hassle, but it's necessary because cavity-causing plaque and tartar easily accumulate around your orthodontia. Use a floss threader or a water flosser to clean between your teeth and always have a toothbrush with you when you're at work or school.
Braces Are Not a Permanent Solution (But Retainers Are!)
Did you assume that getting braces would guarantee you a lifetime of straight teeth? Nope! Your teeth will only stay straight for as long as you maintain your results, which means wearing retainers.
We'll give you a set of retainers to wear to keep your teeth in place. After your braces are removed, you may need to wear your retainers all day at first, but you'll soon be able to wear them only at night, and eventually maybe just every other night, depending on your needs. It'll be worth it, we promise.