All About Braces - How Long Does it Take to Put Braces On?
You might think that the first step to getting your braces put on is going to the orthodontist and having him or her affix the brackets. There are actually a few steps that happen before that day to get everything ready and then there are a few steps you will need to take afterwards to help ease the aches that you will be experiencing. How long does it take to put braces on teeth? Not that long at all – read on to learn more.
What will happen before you get braces put on
Braces are an important step to having a healthier mouth. They help correct overbites and underbites and they also straighten teeth so you can have better bites, your teeth are no longer crowded, and you can reduce TMJ pain and headaches.
Before you get to the appointment where you will get the braces put on, you will probably have already visited your orthodontist at least once and developed your treatment plan. This is also part of how long does it take to put braces on. He or she will have taken X-rays or done a digital 3D assessment of your teeth and gotten an impression of your teeth in their current arrangement. If you are getting bands put on your molars, you will probably have gotten tiny metal spacers between the back teeth to create a little more room for the bands to go on. This will make your gums a little tender, so you will want to avoid cold or hot drinks for a while as well as cold foods like ice cream. While you have these spacers, you will want to avoid flossing those teeth.
When you get ready to make the appointment to get your braces put on, be sure to ask your orthodontist and his or her staff any questions you might have. They are happy to answer anything you want to know about the process and what to expect. They will go over approximately how long does it take to put braces on so you will be prepared.
How long does it take to put braces on?
It takes about one to two hours generally speaking to actually get the braces put on. The act of getting braces put on does not hurt at all. That timeline can change if you choose to get lingual braces because they mount to the back side of the teeth. That makes them harder to get on and they are also more expensive as a result.
Traditional braces made of stainless steel are the most common type of braces. You have a set of brackets and wires that will be worn to adjust the bite. When it comes to how long does it take to put braces on, these are the fastest.
What happens when you get braces on
The process starts by using cheek retractors, followed by cleaning and drying your teeth. Your orthodontist may use a type of conditioner and a primer material next, which dries in about 30 seconds or so. A tiny dap of bonding glue is then put on the front of each tooth that the bracket is then affixed to. Once all of the brackets are on, your orthodontist will use a really bright light to help the glue harden. Any extra glue that is coming up around the brackets will be removed.
Once all the metal brackets are on, your orthodontist will run a fine wire called an arch wire through each bracket. You may feel a bit of pressure on your teeth or jaws while this wire is being run through. Then if you have self-ligating braces the little clasps are then snapped into place. Otherwise there are some tiny rubber bands that are run around each bracket to help hold the arch wire in place. If you want to have some fun colors of bands, be sure to ask your orthodontist. You can even change out the colors from time to time, or match your school colors, or just go with one color. Part of how long it takes to put braces on is now over. This is about half of the process.
Don’t worry about the not so nice taste of the glue. It will go away and you won’t notice the taste of the rubber bands around the brackets after a while. The glue is not toxic but necessary to attach the brackets. The metal itself does not have a taste.
You may be given headgear to wear also. You will have tiny tubes on the back brackets that the headgear will fit into. Your orthodontist will show you how to attach it every night. Headgear is generally worn overnight while you sleep. So how long does it take to put top braces on? About half of the time is just for the top, unless you have other special appliances you need.
There may also be a time at some point during your treatment for small elastic bands to be used as well. There will be brackets that have tiny metal posts that either rise up off of them or descend downward. You will anchor the elastics to those little posts. Your orthodontist will give you a bag of elastics in the right thickness for what he or she wants to have them do.
Braces work by putting a light pressure on your teeth. It should then be no surprise that you will feel a little ache after you get your braces on or after you get them tightened. The wire is what does the work as it pulls the teeth into alignment. As your teeth move, your gums and jawbone material will also need to move. It has been described as kind of like drawing your finger in sand – you see the sand fill in behind your finger as you go. The matrix of material in your jaw is kind of like that.
Alternatively to all of this, there are clear aligners. You will go through the initial parts that take the X-rays and do the impressions, so that is the same timeline how long does it take to have braces put on. From there, your orthodontist will make a plaster cast of your teeth and make your first set of trays.
Some dentists are certified to work with clear aligners, although most times it is best to see an orthodontist who has the additional training to know how jaws should align and how facial structures should be.
Each new set of trays will be used based on that cast and what your orthodontist expects your teeth to be when you are done. You will get your next set of trays in a few weeks, and then every few weeks after that. They work like braces do by applying gentle pressure to the teeth and moving them into place. After this first part, each visit to the orthodontist is much quicker than it would be how long does it take to have braces put on compared to traditional braces.
How long does it take to get braces put on when it comes to clear aligners? The appointment to make sure your trays are right is fairly short – all of the pre-work is what takes the longest.
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What to do after you get braces on
Now you have your nice little railroad tracks or clear aligners, and your teeth are beginning their progress to their new positions. You will want to make sure you take good care of your teeth to keep them from getting hit or knocked about. A mouthguard is a great idea if you play sports so you don’t end up with your cheeks getting shoved into your brackets, or your teeth dislodged – remember they are looser now than they were and than they will be when you are done.
The braces themselves can rub up against the inside of your mouth and cause some irritation. You can put a little orthodontic wax on the brackets to help make that smoother until your mouth develops some callouses. Some orthodontists even have wax with a bit of anesthetic in it to help soothe the soreness. To use the wax, pull off a little bit from the larger block, and roll it in your fingers to warm it up a bit, then apply to the brackets that are causing you some issues.
You may also find that between appointments, you will notice more of your arch wire sticking out the back. This is good! It means your teeth are moving as they should. If the wire is poking you, you can use some of your wax to cover that wire and let your orthodontist know.
Your teeth will likely start to feel a little sore once the braces start their movement. Once you have had them for about a week or two you will start to adjust and they won’t hurt as much.
If you do find that you are getting a headache or you have some overall aches, take some over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If it is just your gums and teeth that hurt, you can try using Anbesol or Orajel which are topical oral anesthetics. You will find that the discomfort doesn’t last long and you will be feeling back to normal pretty quickly.
For the length of time you have your braces, you need to avoid hard foods like apples, corn on the cob, ice cubes, and carrots, unless they are cooked. They can cause the brackets to break off so then you have to go back in again and get the bracket redone. Since you already have braces, how long does it take to put on the replacements is shorter, but still a necessary time investment.
When you get your braces on you will want to be eating soft foods like mashed potatoes, applesauce, macaroni and cheese, ripe bananas, cooked eggs, yogurt, and soup. Because of the irritation that your cheeks may be experiencing, avoid acidic foods like sodas, tomatoes, and oranges or orange juice.
Another option you have to help with the aches of getting your braces on is to gargle with a warm salt water rinse. Your rinse should be a 1/2 tsp of salt mixed in a cup of warm water. You can also use this as a rinse to help get food particles out from around your braces, an important piece of your home care program. Because this is not medicated, you can actually use the rinse several times a day. If you find, however, that a saline rinse and some pain relievers don’t help and that the pain is really significant, or if you find that your cheeks or tongue are bleeding, call your orthodontist right away.
Every few weeks you will come in to get your braces tightened or get a new set of clear aligner trays. Your orthodontist will replace the little rubber bands that hold the arch wire in place because they will lose their elasticity after a while. Your orthodontist will evaluate your progress and tighten the braces to make the next step in your progress.
It is important for you to keep your teeth really clean. Brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and continue to floss or use a water irrigation device to get particles of food out from between your teeth and from around your brackets. Avoid any foods that could stain your teeth as this will mean your brackets will leave marks once you get the braces off. And, be sure to visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings.
When you get all done with your orthodontic treatment, you will need to spend about an hour in the chair while the brackets are plied off the teeth and the glue is either scratched or buffed off. If you notice that your teeth have some stains, you can get them whitened but give it about a month before you do that to let everything settle into the new norm.
You will likely get set up with a retainer or a fixed retainer. Fixed retainers are applied to the back of the teeth and glued in place.
Summing up how long does it take to get braces put on
The process of getting braces on is a bit time consuming, but it only takes about one to two hours. You will get used to them in a few weeks, and your time wearing braces will actually go pretty quickly. Once you get your braces off you will love your new smile! And that great smile will mean you can face the world with a lot more confidence and know you have taken a step towards greater oral health for life.