The procedure to attach braces doesn’t take much time at all. Theoretically, you can go on about your day in a couple of hours with a new set of braces on your teeth. However, the lead-up and the after-care take a bit longer. Braces are a commitment, requiring strict care and regular adjustments. Find out what it entails before you take the step.
Before asking, “how long does it take to get braces?” you have to find out if you need them. Some people choose to because they aren’t happy with the alignment of their teeth. Both children and adults can get braces, so there’s no age limit. Your primary dentist generally makes the recommendation. That’s especially true for children. Regular six-month check-ups allow the dentist to study the growth of your teeth. You can always broach the subject, as well.
Teeth that grow in crooked require braces, particularly if they affect your alignment. Braces can also fix overbites and underbites. Left untreated, those issues can lead to dental problems later in life.
After determining that you need braces, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist. The application of braces isn’t difficult or time-consuming, but it requires a steady hand and specialized care. For that reason, orthodontists are more equipped to handle their application than a regular dentist.
Prepping for the Process
This advice may come off as tongue-in-cheek, but it’s true. You have to celebrate your life without braces before you get them on your teeth. After you get braces, there are certain foods you have to avoid until they come off again. Hard or tough foods are off limits while wearing braces, as is anything too crunchy. You have to stay away from chewy and sticky things, as well. Eat up before the big day. On that subject, talk to the orthodontist about specific foods you can’t eat and what’s relatively safe.
A few days before, go ahead and buy up things that you can eat immediately after getting braces. You need soft foods that you don’t have to chew. For about a week, you get to eat nothing but comfort food. Common post-braces diets include ice cream, mashed vegetables, purees, soups, smoothies, and yogurt.
In the Orthodontist’s Chair
Everyone who needs orthodontia asks, “how long does it take to get braces?” The actual answer is shocking: an hour or two at most. The actual process of fixing the braces to your teeth may take as few as thirty minutes. There’s no set time, however. Every mouth is different, and all dentists work at their own pace. Knowing that it takes a small amount of time can help to set your mind at ease, but it doesn’t explain what the process entails. Familiarizing yourself with what happens in the exam chair ought to quell any further fears.
The first thing your orthodontist will do is to insert a cheek retractor into your mouth. It holds open your lips and helps to keep your cheeks away from your teeth, affording a clear view. The retractor feels odd, but it’s not painful. You look and feel like you’re aiming a fan or a blow dryer straight at your face, however, so don’t let anyone snap any sneaky pictures of you.
Once your mouth is open and there’s a clear path to your teeth, the orthodontist polishes your choppers. This isn’t just to clean them. It also helps the brackets of the braces to stick to the surface of your teeth. The polish is left to air dry, after which your teeth receive a conditioning treatment. The conditioner goes on the front surfaces of your teeth, where it remains for about thirty seconds before the orthodontist or assistant wipes off the substance. This preparation, too, assists the bonding process.
After the conditioner, the orthodontist has to apply an oral adhesive to your teeth. The primer is the third substance that’s designed to help the brackets bond to your teeth. The adhesive doesn’t have the best taste, but it’s perfectly safe, even if you accidentally swallow some or get it on your tongue.
Now comes the fun part. Cement adhesive goes onto the backs of the braces. The orthodontist will then affix the brackets onto your teeth, get rid of any overflowing cement, and dry the rest with the help of a special light. At this point, you finally get to take the retractor out of your mouth.
Depending on your treatment plan, you might be done at this point. Then again, you may require orthodontic spacers, which can be small pieces of metal or rubber bands. The orthodontist inserts them between your molars. They prevent your teeth from crowding each other. A final adjustment tightens the braces.
The process of getting braces is relatively painless, but your mouth will likely feel sore for a few days afterward. You may experience discomfort for the first week or so. It mainly comes from that last adjustment. Dental wax can soothe sore spots. Aspirin or Ibuprofen will work, too, but talk to the doctor first.
Regular adjustments are an integral part of braces maintenance. The orthodontist has to tighten your braces as your teeth straighten and grow closer together. The spacers may need adjustment or replacement, as well. Treatment plans vary, but you can expect to have your braces adjusted every three to 10 weeks. The length of time you keep your braces varies, too, and you may need to wear a retainer after their removal. Braces may also change how you brush your teeth.
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So, how long does it take to get braces? The process itself takes a couple of hours, at most, but care and maintenance take far longer.