Braces FAQ in Charles County and St. Mary’s County, MD
Sequence Orthodontics, conveniently located in Waldorf and Leonardtown, and serving Charles County and St. Mary’s County, Maryland, offers braces and other orthodontic solutions to local residents, providing satisfied patients with newly improved, healthy smiles.
What Are Braces?
Dental braces are orthodontic devices designed to align and straighten teeth, adjust the position of a person’s bite and improve overall oral health. Braces may be used to treat and prevent overbites, underbites, malocclusions, crooked teeth, crowded or improperly spaced teeth and other structural or cosmetic conditions that affect the teeth and jaw. Dental braces may be applied in conjunction with other orthodontic devices to help widen the palate or jaws, or to otherwise reshape or reposition the teeth and jaws, improving overall mouth function.
Benefits of Wearing Braces
Many people seek braces to improve their appearance, boosting self-esteem and confidence; however, the benefits of braces go far deeper than mere aesthetic improvement. Proper alignment of the teeth and jaw can enhance overall health by improving the eating and chewing capacity, leading to improved digestion. Straight, properly spaced teeth effectively improve one’s bite, eating function, and may even improve one’s speaking ability. Straight, properly positioned teeth and a healthy bite contribute to an overall healthy mouth, which is the gateway to good health. Straight teeth are also easier to brush, clean and floss while enhancing your smile and overall appearance!
How Do Braces Correct Malocclusions?
Dental braces work to reposition the teeth by applying consistent gentle force and pressure to the teeth by means of brackets, bonding material, archwire and ligature elastics (also called “o-rings”). Brackets are attached to teeth and held together by an archwire, which when tightened, applies pressure to the brackets and gradually moves the teeth into the proper position. In some patients, springs or rubber bands may be used to apply more pressure in a specific direction.
Am I a Good Candidate for Braces?
Almost anyone age seven or older may be a suitable candidate for braces or other orthodontic treatment, although the recommended treatment will vary according to individual characteristics, such as age, extent of correction needed, budget and lifestyle. Typically, braces are suitable for adults, teens, and children, while Invisalign® is recommended for use by adults and teens.
What Types of Braces Are Available at Sequence Orthodontics?
Sequence Orthodontics provides a variety of orthodontic treatments, including several types of braces to suit individual needs and preferences. Prices, as well as the length of treatment, may vary, and these factors may affect your choice of treatment.
Metal braces are traditional braces. They are composed of high-quality stainless steel. Metal brackets are bonded to each tooth with a strong bonding material. These brackets are then attached to an archwire with the use of elastics. These tiny elastics are also known as ligatures or o-rings. The archwire is tightened systematically. This systematic tightening causes the archwire to put pressure on the teeth, which brings them into the proper alignment.
Ceramic brackets are made from a transparent material instead of metal. Ceramic braces work similarly to metal braces. The clear brackets make the braces less noticeable.
Lingual braces are composed of the same material as metal braces. The same process is also used, except the brackets are bonded to the inside of the teeth. The archwire is then attached to the brackets, and the metal braces are on the inside of the teeth. Lingual braces are less visible than external braces.
Invisalign® provides an alternative solution to metal and ceramic braces. This tooth straightening treatment uses a series of clear plastic aligners. Each aligner resembles a mouth guard and is custom-made for the patient. Every two weeks the aligners are replaced, as they slowly properly align the teeth. The clear aligners are removed for eating and brushing. Invisalign® can also be recommended for individuals who have completed orthodontic treatment. These individuals can benefit from using these clear aligners to hold their teeth in position as they settle.
How Long Will I Have to Wear My Braces?
Braces provide effective orthodontic treatment for children, as well as adults; however, adults may require a longer treatment period than children. Although treatment length varies by individual, the average adult wears braces for about 18 months to three years, with most averaging about 24 months; children may require a shorter period. All orthodontic patients may need to wear a retainer after braces are removed to maintain optimal treatment results.
Is Wearing Braces Painful?
Most patients experience no pain during the procedure, but teeth and gums may be slightly sore afterward. The discomfort may last up to a week, but most patients describe it as more “annoying” than “painful.”
You may have some difficulty eating and speaking on the day that you have your braces fitted, as your facial muscles must adjust to the pressure. We recommend a diet of softer foods for the first few days, such as yogurt, soup, and pasta.
There may be some discomfort as your teeth begin to realign due to the pressure of the wires and elastic ligatures. Over-the-counter pain medication will provide relief from the discomfort, and you may also apply wax to the braces to keep them from irritating the inside of your mouth. Our staff will provide you with instructions on how to use the wax at your application appointment. You may feel similar discomfort for a few days following orthodontist appointments in which your braces are adjusted.
What to Expect When Wearing Braces
The success of your orthodontic treatment depends on how well you care for your braces and adhere to your maintenance schedule. Braces work by slowly moving your teeth into proper alignment, and adjusting the braces regularly is required to gradually move the teeth. The archwires must also be adjusted, and the elastic ligatures must be replaced periodically.
Food may also become trapped between the wires and brackets, and if not removed properly, it may lead to plaque build-up, decay, and stains. Our office will provide you with all of the supplies and instructions you will need in order to properly care for your teeth and gums while wearing braces, such as special orthodontic floss. We will also teach you how to effectively clean between brackets and wires to ensure healthy results.
We also recommend that you avoid hard and chewy foods that could damage your braces by damaging brackets, bending wires or loosening bands. In general, we recommend that you avoid such food as:
- Chewing gum
- Caramel, toffee, and taffy
- Hard candies
- Beef jerky, pork rinds, and other tough, chewy foods
You should also limit your intake of sweets, as these may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Hard fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and apples, though encouraged, should be eaten in bite-sized pieces to avoid damaging braces, particularly on the front teeth.
Why Choose an Orthodontist vs. a Dentist for Braces?
Orthodontists are specialists trained in tooth movement and jaw function, while dentists are considered general dental practitioners. Orthodontists must first complete dental school to become dentists and then attend an orthodontic program for several more years to specifically study tooth movement, jaw function and facial aesthetics. Although some dentists may take courses to learn how to apply Invisalign® or other types of orthodontic treatment, this is not their specialty, and they rarely have the expertise and experience of an orthodontist.
Why Choose Sequence Orthodontics for Braces?
Our staff of specialized orthodontists has extensive experience and expertise, and our knowledgeable and compassionate doctors will apply your braces and conduct the consultation, which is not the case at many other practices.
What Should I Do Next?
If you live in Charles County or St. Mary’s County, Maryland and want to improve your appearance and oral health by straightening your teeth, contact our Waldorf or Leonardtown office to schedule an appointment at Sequence Orthodontics.