HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET BRACES?
Getting braces can seem to be a long term commitment as it is not just a case of walking into the dentist and coming out a little later with them. Your trip to your dentist is just the start of what can be a wide ranging and sometimes trying experience. They will obviously help you as much as they can but due to the limits of their knowledge and training they will have to hand you over to an orthodontist who will be in a better position to help you. At the beginning they may not be able to answer you when you ask, “how long does it take to get braces?” but after treating you for a while, they should be able to give you a good idea.
Although a dentist is well qualified, an orthodontist has trained for years longer than them and has specialized in fitting braces and dealing with problems with the mouth and the jaw. After the position of dentist is obtained, an application is made to a college, and the next phase begins. They will carry out further training and will be treating their own patients. Before they can be said to be an orthodontist they will have to pass a final test. Here they will face a panel and must show them what they have done.
Normally it will be the case that they must present 6 case histories and talk the panel through what they have done, and if the work is not completed, explain what they are going to do in the future. Providing they are successful here, they have to get licensed and decide where they are going to work. Once this has been completed, they can be classed as an orthodontist and can start working with dentists to help them with their patients who are in need of braces.
Once your dentist has checked your teeth and told you that you require braces, you will need to find an orthodontist. Your dentist should be able to recommend one to you, but it is entirely up to you if you accept the recommendation or find your own. Whatever you do, you need to feel comfortable working with them and be able to ask them about anything that is worrying you. An ideal thing to do will be to visit the office and see how you feel. The things that you should consider are:
- Do you like the orthodontist and feel comfortable with them treating you or your child?
- Speak to the rest of the staff and see if you will be happy seeing them on a regular basis. If someone is not overly friendly it could be that they are just being professional, but if they are rude, then that should be a warning sign.
- Is the treatment and waiting room clean and uncluttered? You want to be sure that you are being treated in hygienic conditions.
- Location of the clinic. If you have to make a late night appointment is it in an area you will be happy visiting on your own? Is there plenty of parking in case you are in a rush, and if you don’t drive, is there a good system of public transport?
- Was the clinic busy? This can be good or bad as it may mean that they are very popular and therefore likely to be good but could also mean appointments may be hard to come by.
- Check the opening hours. Monday to Friday 9-5 may not be ideal as you could have to take time off work or take the children out of school in order to be seen.
Once you have decided that you are happy with the practice and have been accepted onto the books, you need to make your first appointment. Other than a checkup there may not be a great deal else done here, as there will be a lot to go through. It is their chance to find out all about you and your medical past, and for you to find out about them and ask anything that you may be unsure about. An obvious question will be “How long does it take to get braces?” The main other things that you are likely to ask will be:
- What types of braces are available?
- How long will the treatment take and how many appointments could I need?
- Will it just be braces or could there be extractions? If the problem is overcrowding it is likely that the orthodontist will have to remove some teeth to create a space for the others to move into as they straighten up.
- You may not like discussing money, but here it will be important. You need to check what can be covered by your insurance and what you will have to pay for. Often cosmetic work is not covered and as there are certain options, you may find that you cannot have exactly what you want without paying towards it.
- Finally, you can ask about the follow up visits. What happens when the braces come off and how long will this last stage of treatment take and what will it entail?
Preparing for Your Braces
Once this meeting has taken place the real business can start, and you can be measured up for your braces. A further check will take place, and this is too make sure that there is no decay and that the teeth are able to withstand the braces. There are different types of braces and you should be told what is best for you, what the options are as you may be able to have your plan adapted. The different types of braces are:
- Fixed braces – bands and brackets have to be attached to the teeth and dental cement is used to do this. Wires will be threaded through them and it is this wire that moves the teeth to the location they are required to be in. You can have the ligature a steel color or brightly colored with the use of bands.
- Lingual braces – their design is very close to the braces described about except the workings are at the back of the teeth. They are much harder to detect but can also be harder to get used to wearing.
- Invisalign braces are clear and are not permanently connected. They can be taken out while you are eating and if you have a special appointment. They should be in for about 22 hours a day, but there are times when you could get away with leaving them out a little longer.
You should also be told about anything that may change. You could find it difficult to speak and there will be certain things that you cannot eat. Certain types will not make a difference, but it is going to be difficult when you have lingual braces in place. Some musicians are worried about playing musical instruments where the mouth is involved. It will take a few weeks before you are back to normal, providing you are prepared to put in a little extra practice.
Advice on eating should be given and while this may seem strange, there are going to be a lot of things that you will struggle to eat. You can get grains and seeds caught in the bands and wires meaning that you must give a thorough and careful clean. You should take a little longer than normal just to make sure that you do manage to remove everything.
Steps to Place Fixed Braces
The first visit will be the one where the groundwork is laid. You will have quite a lot of treatment, but the braces will not be there. First, there will be x-rays and then impressions. This is where the orthodontist uses plaster to get a clear impression of the location of the teeth. This will help them to decide which teeth need to move and which ones may have to be removed. If there is not enough room for the teeth that are there or are going to come through, then some will have to go. Most orthodontists will take out the teeth a little before fitting the braces as it will give the jaw a little time to recover but will not be long enough for it to heal up completely.
There is likely to be a brief session when the orthodontist will place the separators between the molars. This means they will move slightly and by the time the braces are ready to go on, there should be enough space for the molar bands if needed. After that there will be a visit so that the brackets and bands can be cemented into place. It normally take about an hour to have the braces cemented, wires, and ties placed. This may take more than the one visit, but the orthodontist will decide at the time whether or not they can do it all in the one session.
Once the braces are fully fitted, there will not have to be as many visits, but you will still need to go back every 4 weeks to 2 months. This is so that the orthodontist can check that the teeth are moving the way they should be and also so that the bands can be tightened. If they are not then steps can be taken to correct this and if they are where the orthodontist expected, they will take you onto the next level. This will not take long but is an important part of the process.
You may wonder why you have so many parts to the braces and in some events; there will be more parts than in others. Many people can just have the elastic bands but for others it will be much more serious. If you are given an accessory you should use it exactly as you were told to. It could be a facemask or biteplate – it may even be headgear that is going to be very noticeable and can be difficult to get used to. You have to remember that the orthodontist does not give you these items for fun; they do it because they are needed to give you the smile you want. By not wearing or using them you are not spiting the orthodontist but yourself as you will be the one who goes through a lot of treatment and comes out looking pretty much the same as you did when it started.
The great news is that the treatment will not last forever. One day you are asking about getting treatment, the next you are having the braces removed and being told about what is to happen next. You will be scheduled a deband session and this is where the braces are moved. Not only will they braces be taken off, but the teeth will be fully cleaned as there will be bits of cement left on them. You will need to have molds made again as the teeth are in a different position to when the first ones were made. These will be the molds that are used to assemble the retainer. You will need these for the next few years as you don’t want the teeth to move back to the position they were in when you started. Now that you are on the final hurdle, you should be looking forward to the future with the teeth you want and not too stressed by what has happened. If you were given an honest answer when you asked, “How long does it take to get braces?” you should be where you expected to be. It is to be hoped that you have got the results that the orthodontist told you to expect and that you are not going to risk it by not using the retainers properly.
There is now light at the end of the tunnel and you can smile to the world without showing them metal and elastic. The treatment you went through will fade into the background and you won’t regret a thing.