Everybody wants a brilliant smile that can capture a room, but getting there can be a long journey. What should you expect when getting metal braces with Nasser Orthodontics in Shreveport, LA?
What Are Metal Braces?
This type of braces remain the most popular way to get the beautiful smile that you deserve. Braces are the choice of orthodontists everywhere looking to fix everything from crooked teeth, to crowding, to overbites and underbites, to a whole host of other jaw issues.
And it’s not all about looks, either. Getting that perfect smile is the end goal, but without the orthodontic work to get you there, mild tooth and bite problems can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, headaches, and issues with speaking and chewing.
What Are They Made of?
Braces are made with durability in mind, which is why metal is the most popular material to use. Think about it: not only do braces have to be strong enough to move the bones in your mouth, but they also have to withstand all the food you chew.
Braces are actually made of two metal components. Together, these pieces work together to heal tooth problems and give you a great smile.
Metal brackets usually use a mix of several different metals to provide the best outcomes. Most commonly used are stainless steel, gold, titanium, and nickel. Chromium is often added to prevent any corrosion of stainless steel. Molybdenum is also added to prevent any type of pitting or crevice corrosion.
The brackets are flat on one side so they can effectively cement onto the teeth. The brackets also include a slot for the metal archwire to pass through. Orthodontists can choose to attach brackets to select problem teeth or the entire row of teeth.
Once all the teeth being treated have had brackets attached, it’s time to use an archwire to attach all the teeth to one another. The archwire is designed to pass through a slot on each bracket. These wires can be made from stainless steel, nickel titanium, or titanium alloys.
While the metal brackets and archwires are the driving force behind metal braces, orthodontic ligatures are also vital. Rubber bands are used to attach the archwires to the brackets. Without them, the archwires would not be capable of forcing the teeth into the correct position.
These rubber bands come in many colors, and orthodontists replace them at each visit, so you can pick a new color every time.
How Do Metal Braces Work
We know how all the different components of braces fit together on your teeth, but how metal braces work?
Special dental cements are used to attach the metal brackets to the teeth. These dental cements are polymerized with the help of visible light. This means that during the process of cementing the brackets, the orthodontist will put protective eyewear on both the patient and themselves and use visible light to create a reaction in the cement that attaches the bracket to the tooth.
Once the brackets are all attached, the archwire is placed through slots on the brackets. The orthodontist will determine what thickness of archwires are best for your teeth. These properties determine how much force will be exerted onto your teeth. Thicker wires put more pressure on the teeth and encourage faster and more drastic adjustments.
Wires also can come in multiple shapes, depending on your mouth’s specific needs. Once attached to the brackets with the rubber bands, the wire becomes the active component of the braces.
Once everything is in place, it’s time for your teeth to get a move on. In addition to being attached to the brackets on the teeth being treated, the braces extend and attach to the molars, which are the rear teeth and which act as an anchorage unit.
As opposed to the other teeth, rear teeth are multi-rooted, which helps them stabilize the whole row of teeth when acting as the anchorage unit. Being multi-rooted allows the molars to encourage movement in the other teeth without moving themselves.
Each time you return to the orthodontist, they tighten the wire to apply more pressure on your teeth. The activated wire then tries to move and relax, which enacts a force on all the teeth in the row. Roughly the same amount of force is put on each tooth, which means that teeth with less surface area react more drastically than larger teeth that have the same amount of pressure applied. Because front teeth have less surface area and are only single-rooted, they move more easily than other teeth.
As you return to the orthodontist to be reevaluated, they will tighten your wires or replace them with new wires if needed. Through the process, your teeth will move into their correct spaces to not only improve the appearance of your smile, but also the health of your whole mouth.
What’s the Process?
You think you might want braces for you or your loved one. How do you go about making that happen?
1. Get a Referral
The first step on your road to a perfect smile is to get a referral. This usually comes from a dentist because you see them on a regular basis to care for the health of your teeth. Generally, the dentist will recommend braces during a regular appointment if they could be useful. However, if this hasn’t happened, you can also make an orthodontist appointment on your own. You’ll want to get a copy of your latest x-rays from your dentist to bring to the orthodontist to help them assess your teeth.
2. Have a Consultation
The first appointment with an orthodontist will be a consultation. They’ll look at any x-rays you have from your dentist and fully examine your teeth and bite to figure out exactly how to help your smile become as healthy as it can be. The orthodontist will likely take a mold of your teeth to use throughout the treatment process.
It’s important to note that while braces can be useful for many people, there are some situations where braces are not the best plan of action. It may be that the teeth are straight enough and can be fixed by a less drastic, not to mention expensive, intervention. Or, you may require other interventions, such as a lip bumper or headgear, before or in addition to the braces.
3. Create a Treatment Plan
After the orthodontist has fully evaluated your teeth, they will determine the best way to proceed. Every mouth is unique and braces aren’t one-size-fits-all. Even if metal braces are the right option for you, your orthodontist will have to determine the thickness and shape of your archwire.
The orthodontist will use the mold of your teeth to create a mockup of braces to show you what you would look like with the suggested interventions.
4. Building the Braces
You should expect the orthodontia appointment when you get your braces placed to be much longer than a normal appointment. Before they are able cement the brackets onto the teeth, the orthodontist will have to do a thorough teeth cleaning. After cleaning, the orthodontist will condition the teeth for ten to thirty minutes to make sure that they are ready and primed for the cement to be applied.
The brackets are cemented to the teeth in predetermined positions and visible light is used to help the cement attach and dry. After the brackets are cemented on, the archwire will be inserted into the brackets. Orthodontists cut a semicircle of wire to the correct length, based on how many teeth are being treated. They may put bends or kinks into the wire to help certain teeth move faster into the right position.
Once the wire is placed, it will be attached to the brackets with the rubber bands.
5. Discussing Oral Care
After placing your braces, your orthodontist will go over the basics of caring for them. They will show you how to brush your teeth and may even provide you with some special toothbrushes to help ensure that you keep your braces clean. Brushes with small spindles are commonly suggested because they are great at helping you to remove food particles from around the brackets and between the wire and teeth.
Your orthodontist will also go over with you all the foods that you should not eat while you have braces. Hard foods such as popcorn that might have kernels or candies are likely to break the cement bond between your tooth and bracket or otherwise damage your braces. In addition, it can be hard to get sticky, sugary foods out from behind your wire, so avoiding them altogether is often suggested. And don’t forget about those foods you have to take a bite out of, like apples, pears, or corn on the cob. These foods are likely to pop off a bracket and send you back to the orthodontist.
6. Making Adjustments
Your orthodontist will probably want to see you in three to four weeks after the initial wire is placed to make an adjustment. At each adjustment appointment, your orthodontist will remove the rubber bands and remove the wire. They may bend the wire again and reinsert it or use a new wire that is slightly stronger or has a different configuration. Adjustment by adjustment, the orthodontist is coaxing all of your teeth into the correct positions.
7. Visiting the Dentist
While it’s always important that you keep up with your regular dentist appointments, this is even more important during the time that you have braces. Having braces can make brushing your teeth much more difficult than normal, but dentists and hygienists are training in cleaning around brackets and wires. They also can give you some great advice for keeping your teeth clean while you have your braces.
It’s Time for Better Oral Health
The process of getting metal braces can be stressful. But having the perfectly straight teeth and brilliant smile that braces give you makes the whole process worth it. And knowing what to expect when you go to the orthodontist makes it a lot easier.
Whether you’re considering braces or you want to make sure your child’s smile is as healthy as it can be, it’s always a good option to reach out to an orthodontist and see what steps they suggest to help your smile captivate a room.
Contact Nasser Orthodontics in Shreveport, Louisiana today to see if metal braces are the right choice for you or your child. We’d love to answer any questions you have and schedule a consultation to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.