I have had braces for 4 years of my life. Pleasant? Probably not. But I’ll explain to you the most common type of brace. ‘Train-track’ braces (what I’ve had) are simply a little ‘bracket’ (picture 1) glued onto each tooth being moved, with a medical glue, (not a Pritt stick, don’t worry). Then connected by a wire, threaded through the back two ‘brackets’ a secured to the other brackets by mini elastic bands. These can be coloured or clear depending on whether you want to draw attention to them or not. If not, you can get white or clear bands. However, do be warned that things like coffee, tea and curry will stain the white bands.
If you are getting braces yourself, please don’t be scared, it will be fine! Do remember that it won’t be the best few years of your life, but the outcome will be incredible! However, all this time wearing them has led to some of the weirdest questions! I have compiled a list of as many as I can remember and their answers, to give to you. Hope this helps!
Does it hurt?
– I’m not gonna lie, it’s not totally pain-free. The types of brace you have really makes a difference. Typically, it would hurt for the first few days as your teeth are suddenly in an unusual position and they are stuck there. I’m sure you can understand. Normal painkillers and numbing gels will do. I had to take a couple of stronger ones, but all pain is different.
How long will it take?
It really all depends on the type of brace have and how bad your problem is. Most train-track braces that are just straightening usually take up to 2 years (usually). But some much shorter. my friend only had them for about two months. I have had two different braces with a gap of about a year, both doing different jobs. I had a minor underbite when I was 9/10 that took around 1 year and a current one because two teeth were growing in the wrong places.
Will I be able to talk?
– Depends again. You will be able to talk, no doubt. but how well, is debatable. it will take some getting used to, and it will get easier as time passes.
What happens if they break?
If they break, (a bracket breaks off the tooth), all you will need to do is go to your orthodontist, and he/she will just glue it back on.
Can I sleep?
Traintrack braces are glued to the teeth, and can’t be removed, but will probably cause you no harm. You really should wear the removable braces to sleep. just take some painkillers before bed and you should sleep fine. Please, please do be aware that the more painkillers you take, the less they will work over time, as your body gets used to them.
What about the coloured bands?
The coloured bands hook around the bracket and attach the wire to the bracket to keep them together. No, they are not like loom bands! Smaller and tighter and you couldn’t make a bracelet with them. They come in a range of colours and must be changed regularly
How often does my brace need to be tightened?
Around every 4 to 6 weeks, you’ll go to your orthodontist and they will remove the bands and the arch wire. They may have to add a ‘spring’ or a ‘power chain’. The spring would just go around any spare wire between teeth and a power chain is a clear chain of the little elastics that goes over a row of teeth. I had one of my front teeth only.
How long is the waiting list?
There is a waiting list, and if your problem will worsen quickly you may just get them straight away, if not, well, it really depends where you are on the waiting list!
How much does it cost?
On the NHS, it’s free, if you go private, you’ll get more invisible braces but it will cost. I am not sure of the price.
What can’t I eat?
They tell you not to eat a lot of things but really, if you’re careful, you can eat some things. Don’t eat toffee whatsoever. You can eat apples if you cut them up, and just leave the crusts on a pizza. Gum is bad but if you’re very careful you can get away with it.
Enjoy your braces!