If you have been referred to an orthodontist because the time has come to get braces to fix a malocclusion, there are a number of steps that will be taken before, during, and after they are placed in your mouth.
The first thing that will happen will be the initial consultation. This is usually free and includes the doctor looking at x-rays of your mouth and teeth. He or she will determine what work is necessary to fix your problems and give you some options and prices. This is the time for you to ask any questions you may have.
Next, you need to have any preliminary work taken care of. This includes going to your regular dentist for a cleaning, having any teeth that need to be removed taken out and, if desired, having your teeth whitened. In addition, it is best to have any periodontal or endodontic work done prior to having your braces put on.
During your first official visit, the orthodontist will take a variety of x-rays and pictures. He or she will have a panoramic x-ray of your mouth taken, as well as a full set of x-rays of individual teeth. In addition, the doctor will also take pictures of your face, teeth, and mouth. The orthodontist will also take a mold of your mouth and if the space between any of your teeth is tight, he or she will insert rubber or metal spacers in order to prepare your mouth for braces.
At your second visit, the brackets will be positioned on your teeth. This is done by first drying your teeth and then applying etchant to them in order to prep them for the special cement to hold the brackets in place. The brackets are then placed on your teeth and high-intensity plasma light is used to set the bond. The wire is then placed through the brackets and little rubber bands are placed on the brackets. Each row of teeth takes approximately an hour for the procedure to be complete.
Afterward, your teeth may feel sore and it is best to eat soft foods and liquids for a day or so until the pain subsides. You may also take over the counter pain relievers to decrease the pain. In addition, your lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated until they grow scar tissue and become accustomed to the braces. You can use dental wax to ease the pain.
You will need to return every four to six weeks in order to have the wire tightened. At that time, the old wire and rubber bands will be removed. You will then brush and floss your teeth before a new wire and rubber bands are attached. You may need to take an over the counter pain reliever for a day or two following the follow-up appointments.
When it is time to have your braces removed, the orthodontist will use special pliers to get the brackets off and a special machine to get the glue off your teeth. You will probably have to wear a retainer in order to ensure that your teeth do not shift.