When it comes to correcting crooked or crowded teeth, a misaligned jaw, and improving oral health, traditional braces are one of the most useful tools we have. Braces have been a standard treatment method for many years, and have an impressive track record in what they can accomplish. While making the decision to start orthodontic treatment with Dr. Chad Sears can be exciting, most patients will have a few questions and concerns that they wish to discuss before the braces are placed. In order to help patients and parents proceed with confidence towards a healthier smile, our team has put together an outline with everything they need to know before beginning orthodontic treatment. Keep reading below for more information!
What are the components of “braces?”
Brackets are the part of braces that are attached directly to the teeth. These are typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials. They have tiny hooks or doors, over which the wire is threaded, and they are very durable. Brackets can be secured by closing the door, or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.
Dr. Sears uses an adhesive to attach the brackets to the teeth. The glue is technically a form of composite bonding material (used for tooth-colored fillings or sealants). Metal bands filled with a fluoride-containing cement may also be used on the back teeth together with glue in order to give the braces more leverage and stability.
A thin piece of metal that runs from one bracket to another, the changes in the shape and curvature of the wire are what moves the teeth in the desired direction. For some patients, we will use the wire to attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting just a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.
Elastics are an essential part of treatment for patients who need bite correction. Almost everyone needs to use elastics during some part of their orthodontic treatment plan. Elastics are usually strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth backwards to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backwards to correct an underbite. We use rubber bands for many different situations, but they are especially useful when we want to bring the upper and lower teeth together successfully.
There are other terms that a patient may hear in connection with braces. These can include:
These stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents, and are able to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances. We do not use these bands with all patients.
Spacers are small elastic “donuts” or rings that can be used to create tiny spaces in between the teeth when needed, typically before bands are placed. They may also be referred to as separators.
How does the treatment process work?
If a current Coppe + Sears dental patient has been referred to Dr. Sears, he or she will already be familiar with our staff and office set-up. If Dr. Sears is seeing a new patient from an outside dental office, we will take a little time during the first visit to tour the office and introduce some of the team. Diagnostic photos and x-rays are sometimes taken if needed, and Dr. Sears will perform a thorough oral examination before suggesting the best treatment options for each specific case. The patient is then scheduled for an appointment to begin the orthodontic process. This will generally be the day that braces are put on, and our team will be available to answer any questions or address any concerns the patient may have at this time.
At Coppe + Sears, Dr. Sears uses Damon metal and Damon Clear braces, along with clear aligner therapy. There are three key Damon braces components that allow us to deliver faster treatment with fewer appointments, more comfort, and higher-quality results.
- The Damon system uses passive, self-ligating braces to eliminate the need for elastic or metal ties. Tie-less braces do not require any tightening.
- Damon braces use unique high-tech wires that are able to straighten the teeth faster with fewer adjustments, with less pressure.
Traditional braces typically use elastic tie-ins. These can cause friction and pressure, making treatment less comfortable and sometimes adding time to the treatment process. The Damon system braces use a patented slide mechanism to hold the archwire in place while allowing teeth to move freely and quickly without as much friction. Since there are no elastic ties, they can be less likely to attract plaque and can be easier to clean than more traditional treatment options. While the Damon System in general has been designed to be more discreet than traditional braces, it is also available in clear brackets. This makes them an excellent option for image-conscious teen and adult patients.
Like traditional braces, Damon braces are extremely efficient at fixing oral issues that range from simple to complex, and can often work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than other treatments might. Noticeable signs of progress can often be seen in a relatively short amount of time with braces. Seeing changes in the appearance of the teeth can give patients a boost of encouragement throughout their orthodontic journey! The strength, efficiency, and affordability of braces make them a top treatment for orthodontic patients year after year.
The best way to care for braces
There is a learning curve for daily dental hygiene when braces are applied, especially in the early days of having them. However, a little patience and practice will go a long way in helping patients get the hang of a good dental oral hygiene routine. While this kind of routine is important for all of us, it is imperative for orthodontic patients in braces. Food particles and other debris can get stuck in the nooks and crannies created by the braces.
To keep teeth and gums clean and healthy while wearing braces, we recommend the following tips to our patients.
- Brush teeth thoroughly 3 times per day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals and before bed. Close attention should be paid to the areas between the brackets and gums, carefully cleaning between the wires and teeth. Brush for at least two minutes each time, placing the tips of the bristles against the teeth, and using small circular motions. Scrub firmly to get rid of plaque!
- Use a soft orthodontic toothbrush, or an electric toothbrush that comes with a soft bristled head. Interdental brushes can also be used to fit in between the wires and the teeth. These make it easier to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. To help strengthen the tooth enamel, a mouthwash containing fluoride should be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing.
- Flossing is an essential part of maintaining oral health, and it should be done at least once per day. Flossing regularly is even more important when wearing braces because it is easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets and in the gums.
- A floss threader is a tool that has been designed to help make flossing with braces easier. It works a little bit like threading a needle — one end of the floss is pulled through the threader and the threader goes under the archwire. This allows patients to grab the floss on each end and slide it up and down both sides of the teeth and under the gums.
- Oral irrigators like a Waterpik are an excellent addition to the regular brushing and flossing routine. These instruments are able to shoot small, high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth, targeting food debris and plaque that can form between the teeth and braces.
Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves that come with wearing braces. To protect both the appliance and the teeth, braces patients will need to avoid anything too crunchy or too chewy. We have come up with a list of foods that are frequent culprits of brace breakage. We always remind patients that food restrictions are only temporary, and will be more than worth it for the smile we reveal when treatment is complete and the braces are removed!
During the treatment process, patients are scheduled for regular follow-up visits with Dr. Sears. During these appointments, he will check that everything is progressing according to the treatment plan. We do our best to keep these appointments short so patients can get back to work, home, or school as quickly as possible, but it is very important that these appointments are kept. They are an essential part of treatment, and help ensure patients get the best results in the least amount of time.
Estimated treatment times
The million dollar question for our patients is almost always, “how long will my treatment last?” There is no “one size fits all” answer. Every patient is different and responds to braces in their own way, so treatment time will vary on a case-by-case basis. On average, the active stage of orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 6-24 months, but this can be longer or shorter, depending on the particular issues at play. After this phase of treatment is completed a retainer will need to be worn to keep the straightened teeth in place.
Taking the first step towards a straighter smile with Coppe + Sears
The first step in any orthodontic journey is a consultation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Chad Sears. Coppe + Sears is proud to offer complimentary orthodontic evaluations! For more information on how braces treatment can produce a healthier, more attractive smile, we encourage patients of all ages to get in touch with us to schedule a visit by calling 781.861.6120, clicking here, or by emailing us at [email protected].