Orthodontics LA

What to Expect at the Orthodontist

Posted on October 19, 2018

Planning on getting braces? Our orthodontists at Orthodontics LA can walk you through the process. We understand how confusing and nerve-wracking it can be, so we’ve compiled a list of answers to common questions patients have before coming into the orthodontist’s office. Trust us, getting braces or Invisalign is not scary at all! Read on to find out what you can expect at your first appointment.

How do orthodontists put braces on?

Before patients get braces, they get their teeth professionally cleaned by the orthodontist. This is to ensure there’s no debris on the teeth that could get trapped between brackets and cause cavities.

The orthodontist will then bond brackets to your teeth with dental cement or glue. Wires are tightened across the brackets and secured with ligatures. These are elastics that wrap around the bracket to keep the wires in place. We offer elastics in different colors, so patients can choose exactly what they like.

Finally, the orthodontist will professionally dry your teeth. Typically, the procedure is 1-2 hours. Depending on your situation, it can be a little longer or shorter. If you have a lot of overlapping teeth, it can be difficult for the dentist to affix every bracket quickly.

How often do I need to visit the orthodontist after I get my braces?

Most orthodontists will either tighten or change out wires around every two weeks, so they can slowly push your teeth into the right position. Depending on the patient, the process usually takes between six months to two years to allow the teeth and jaws to shift healthily.

Placing too much pressure on the teeth at once could damage them and hurt you, so the orthodontist will rarely try to straighten your teeth all at once. With a little patience, however, you’ll have a beautiful, straight smile.

What are spacers and why do orthodontists use them?

Before you get your braces, your orthodontist may recommend getting spacers. These are small plastic or metal tools that are placed between teeth that are too close to each other. Orthodontists usually only leave them in for only 1 or 2 weeks at a time because they exert a lot of pressure on the teeth.

Do braces hurt?

It’s normal to experience some pain or discomfort when you first get your braces. Make sure to ask your orthodontist if they can adjust the wires to make the braces more comfortable if you feel the wires poking you. Orthodontists can trim and alter the wires, so they fit your mouth comfortably.

For any irritating bits and pieces that you’re unable to adjust, you can cover with dental wax. If you don’t know what that is, dental wax comes in small sticks that can easily be pulled apart. You can tear off a small piece and mold it over your wires or brackets to protect your mouth from getting prodded.

What is a braces emergency?

Braces might be annoying, but they shouldn’t be excruciatingly painful. If your braces are just agonizing, contact your orthodontist immediately.

Emergency orthodontic situations include:

  • Infection: Swelling, cysts, bleeding, and extreme pain may indicate that your gums, mouth, or tongue are infected and need to be treated by a dental professional. The orthodontist can diagnose the problem, treat it, and prescribe antibiotics or painkillers to ease the pain.
  • Trauma or injury: If you’re involved in an accident where there’s heavy impact on your braces and mouth, see an orthodontist. They can fix broken brackets, undone wires, and other oral injuries. We highly recommend getting a custom mouthguard while playing sports to avoid a situation like this.

The orthodontist has the necessary equipment and experience to care for these types of emergencies. If your orthodontist is unavailable, leave a message and head to the closest emergency room.

Where do I get orthodontic rubber bands?

Patients with malocclusion or misaligned bites can use interarch elastics to push straighten out the teeth and jaw with the recommendation of their orthodontist. The elastics are stretched from top bracket to bottom bracket.

Your orthodontist will teach you how to use and care for elastics. Most orthodontists offer bags of these little rubber bands, but you can also purchase them on our own. Check the dental hygiene section of retail stores. These little guys are also sold online and they come in tons of different, fun colors.

When will I start to see results?

When you start to see the results really depends on your situation.  For example, if you have an underbite, it might take another six months to realign the jaw. Some people don’t notice how straight their teeth are until they compare their smiles to what they looked like months before. Gaps will be closed, overlapping teeth will be separated, and crooked teeth will be straightened. It’s incredible!

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see any changes at first. It’s hard to see anything at all with the braces and wires in your mouth.

How will the orthodontist remove my braces?

To take off your braces, the orthodontist will carefully remove the wire and then separate the brackets from the teeth with special pliers. Then, the cement is removed and the teeth are professionally cleaned.

Why do I need retainers?

Retainers keep your teeth straight long after your braces pull them into shape. Think of them as the maintenance squad! Teeth shift, especially right after you get braces, undoing all the time and effort that you put into your braces. Since your teeth and mouth are always growing with your body, it’s natural that they might move without the support of braces holding them in place.

Immediately after you get your braces off, you’ll be given retainers to wear at all times, except when you eat, drink, and brush your teeth. You can expect to keep these retainers on 24/7 for six months to a year. But it gets better! When your bite is stable, you only need to wear the retainers at night.

You and your orthodontist will choose your retainers. You might even end up with all three types!

  • Classic retainers: Most people get classic retainers (also known as Hawley retainers). They’re a popular type of retainer made of plastic and custom-made to fit the mouth. A thin metal wire band wraps around the teeth to keep them in their position. They can be tightened or adjusted as needed.
  • Clear retainers: The orthodontist will make a clear, plastic mold of your teeth that look a lot like Invisalign. These clear retainers work like traditional retainers, leave them on unless you’re eating, brushing, or flossing. Be careful not to leave any food debris or sugar that could get trapped in the retainers and cause cavities.
  • Permanent retainers: If you know you’re going to forget to put your retainers on, permanent retainers might be perfect for you! A bonded or permanent retainer attaches a metal wire to the back of the teeth with dental composite material. It’s basically invisible because it’s behind the teeth, but it can be difficult to clean around. Most orthodontists will remove the permanent retainers after a few months and switch out to another type once the bite is stabilized.

Dentist in protective glasses carrying out a dental check-up

Retainers also need to be cleaned regularly to prevent harmful bacteria from building up. Brush them after use and soak them in cleaning solution when they’re not in your mouth.

Many patients are nervous about the process of getting braces, but we’re here to reassure you that it’s a lot easier than most people think. At Orthodontics LA, we have a number of options available to realign your teeth, such as Damon braces, clear braces, Invisalign, and traditional braces. The process for all these braces is a little different. If you’d like to learn more about the specifics, feel free to ask one of our orthodontists in Encino! We can help patients throughout Encino and Glendale who have questions about orthodontic care.