Dental braces are devices that orthodontists use to move teeth into a desired position. They can correct a variety of dental problems such as crooked teeth, overbites, underbites and malocclusions. The first step in getting braces is an initial consultation with an orthodontist, which should provide you with the answers to many questions about braces.
Am I too old for braces?
Braces have no specific age limit, although you must have good periodontal health. However, you need to inform your orthodontist if you have received treatment for bone conditions like osteoporosis or bone cancer. These conditions are often treated with drugs that contain bisphosphonates such as Boniva or Fosamax. Bisphosphonates strengthen bones but they also carry a significant risk of dental complications. Your orthodontist will need to evaluate your suitability for braces further if you have used bisphosphonate medication.
Do braces hurt?
The process of getting braces placed on your teeth does not hurt and does not require anesthetic. You will initially feel pressure against your teeth and the metal brackets on your teeth will feel strange at first, especially those under your lips. The braces do not typically hurt until the second day and the pain usually peaks on the third day. The pain then begins to recede and should be barely noticeable after the first week.
What changes should I make to my eating habits?
Braces will generally require you to brush your teeth at least twice each day, typically after breakfast and dinner. You should avoid chewy candy such as gum drops and jelly beans, which will stick to your braces and promote tooth decay. Hard food such as nuts can be difficult to remove and may damage your braces. You may need to eat soft foods only until you become used to the braces.
What are the risks of getting braces?
The pressure that braces place on your teeth poses specific risks for the patient. Braces can cause the tooth’s root to break down, causing the remaining root tissue to be absorbed. They can also cause the gums to recede, which can expose the roots of the teeth in severe cases. The materials used to make braces can cause allergic reactions, especially nickel and latex.