Things to Know Before Getting Braces

woman showing her braces

Braces allow patients to enjoy straighter, more beautiful teeth that are easier to clean and less prone to oral health problems later in life. But braces are also a commitment—in money, time, and maintenance efforts—so there are some important things to know before heading to the orthodontist.

Cost and treatment time isn’t one-size-fits-all

Even with dental plans that cover orthodontics, braces are a serious financial investment, especially when it comes to different types of braces. Traditional metal bracket braces are the most cost-effective, while “invisible” bracket braces and alignment trays are a bit pricier. The time length of orthodontic treatment also isn’t one-size-fits-all. Two years is the average treatment period, but severe misalignment usually takes longer to treat—and costs more overall.

Dental treatments must be completed beforehand

Any pending dental work, such as cavity fillings, root canals, or even wisdom teeth removal in some cases, must be completed before braces are installed. Your orthodontist will also ensure your bite is healthy—when the two rows of teeth are closed, they should meet without any large gaps—before planning your orthodontic treatment.

Discomfort is normal

Unfortunately, there is usually some discomfort during the installation and tightening of traditional braces. New aligner trays can also feel uncomfortable for the first few days. Fortunately, the discomfort involved in orthodontic treatment is mild and temporary.

Certain foods must be avoided

Aligner trays can be taken out when you eat and brush your teeth, so you’re not limited in what you can eat. But if you have traditional braces, certain foods can damage them and increase the overall cost of treatment, so they should be avoided entirely. Those foods include (but are not limited to):

  • ​Overly crunchy foods like nuts and hard candy
  • Overly chewy foods like beef jerky and gummy candy
  • Sticky foods like toffee, gum, licorice, and caramels
  • Sugary foods that can increase plaque build-up around the brackets

Food that you bite into, such as apples and corn on the cob, can be consumed if cut up beforehand, and soft foods like yogurt and pasta are usually preferable after the initial installation or tightening appointments.

Daily oral care is more important than ever

Brushing and flossing with traditional braces is a bit more complicated, but also important than ever because food can easily get caught in the brackets and lead to plaque build-up and cavities. Stuck food bits in braces can also be embarrassing, which is why many patients are in the habit of carrying a travel toothbrush and floss to use after each meal. You should also be aware that you’ll go through toothbrushes much faster with braces, as the brackets wear down bristles faster than teeth alone.

Athletes will need a mouthguard

Patients with braces should wear a mouthguard when playing sports. This will protect the cheeks and inner lips from the brackets in the event you’re hit in the mouth. And if a bracket or wire does come loose in the course of a sporting event, you’ll need to make an appointment with your orthodontist to have it fixed right away.

Don’t forget to take a “before” photo

Straightening teeth with braces is such a long process that it’s easy to forget just how crooked your teeth were in the first place. If you take an official “before” photo before getting braces, you can compare it with the “after” shot once the braces are finally removed. No matter how much discomfort and inconvenience you endured, and no matter how many treats you had to avoid during the process, your beautiful new smile will be worth it.

Looking for affordable braces in San Diego?

At San Diego Dental Specialty Center, we know the value of a bright, straight smile, and we’re happy to help you achieve yours. We offer treatment for braces in San Diego along with a variety of other dental treatments and procedures, so give us a call or fill out our contact form today.

Thinking of Getting Braces? Give us a call at (619) 263-6683 to get a free consultation.