What to Expect

If my child needs braces, what can I expect?

Thanks to ongoing research in orthodontic “appliances,” a wide variety of options are available today, all of them much more comfortable—and with some options, less visible—than what we had in the past.

Of course, not every child needs braces, but when they are recommended, your Vital Smiles orthodontist will work closely with you to make sure your child gets the best solution for their particular needs.


The initial exam

Panoramic radiograph of the patient’s face and teeth will be taken to help in the diagnostic process, and we’ll also need a detailed health history form. The initial exam will answer several questions:

  • What problems require correction, if any?
  • Is orthodontic treatment necessary?
  • How long will it take?
  • When is the best time to start?
  • What are the costs?

Getting your braces

The First Appointment: The first visit involves taking impressions of the teeth, getting X-rays and putting in the spacers if needed. (Spacers are little rubber band-like pieces that go between the back teeth so the metal bands for the braces will fit. They’ll be in for about a week.)

The Second Appointment: This is the day you get your braces! You might get the top and bottom the same day, or it might require a separate visit to get both. Then, about every eight weeks, you’ll come back for an adjustment.

What if you have problems with your braces?

Though it may take a day or two to get used to your braces, you should begin feeling comfortable with them pretty quickly. However, if problems do come up, here are some things you can do for yourself.

General soreness?

In the beginning, you may get some soreness in your mouth for a few days, especially when you’re eating. The best thing to do is rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash. Taking Tylenol, Ibuprofen or similar over the counter pain medications can help, too. Your cheeks, tongue and lips can also get irritated for a short time as they get used to the surface of the braces, and putting wax on the braces can help.

Something’s “sticking” you?

If any part of your braces are sticking or otherwise annoying you, putting some wax there can help. If it’s a wire, try pushing it away from the sensitive area with a pencil eraser.

Loose bracket?

If one of your brackets or bands becomes loose but it’s still attached to the wire, leave it in place and put wax on it to stabilize it. But if it comes out entirely, wrap it in a tissue and call our office as soon as you can.

Loose wire?

Try using tweezers to put it back in place, then add wax to help keep it there. If that doesn’t help, use a fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth that it’s attached to.

Something breaks?

If this happens, call us immediately. We may not have to replace it right away, but we want to know what’s happening. Especially if you’re scheduled for an upcoming appointment. We generally don’t charge for the first or second break, but after that, we may charge you for additional repairs.


Foods to avoid when you’re wearing braces?

It’s very important to avoid chewing or biting things that can break or misalign your braces. Try and avoid hard or sticky foods. Foods with a high sugar content should also be avoided, as that can get stuck in the braces and lead to tooth decay. Don’t chew ice, don’t bite your nails, don’t chew anything that isn’t meant to be eaten.

Some hard foods to stay away from:

  • Apples and carrots (unless cut up)
  • Bagels
  • Chips
  • Corn on the cob
  • Crusty bread
  • Hard candy
  • Hard taco shells
  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Pizza crust

Some sticky foods to stay away from:

  • Caramels
  • Gum (sugar-free or regular)
  • Laffy Taffys
  • Starburst
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Any other sticky candy

Just one bite of any of these could cause serious problems. Even if something doesn’t break immediately, it could get bent or loosened, and then, next thing you know, you’re eating something that shouldn’t be a problem at all, and part of your braces breaks or pops off.

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