Dental Blog / Braces 101

Braces 101

Braces: They’re a great fix for teeth that aren’t perfectly aligned, misaligned bites, or teeth that make you feel self-conscious. They are also necessary to fix issues like speech difficulty, wear and tear of the teeth, or TMJ caused by a poor bite. There are a few options for braces if you are struggling with any of these issues (and you’re not alone!)
Before heading to an orthodontist to discuss your options, check out the information below to learn the basics about braces. That way, you can go to your appointment with more knowledge, and you can be even more prepared to make the right choice for your smile. Let’s get started:

What Are the Different Types of Braces?

These days, you don’t have to settle for a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to braces. Instead, there are different types of braces to choose from, and your orthodontist can help you decide which type would be best for you. 
Here’s the breakdown of the main types of braces available: 
• Metal braces – This is probably what you think of whenever you envision braces in your mind. When they’re on your teeth, you will be able to see them every time you smile, but the good news is that, compared to how they were in the past, these braces are now more comfortable, as well as smaller. That’s a plus!

• Ceramic braces – If you want braces that are less noticeable, choosing ceramic might be the right way to go. These can be translucent, or they can be tinted so they blend in with the natural color of your teeth. Overall, they don’t stand out as much as metal braces do when you smile. 

• Invisalign – This product is really popular because it’s a modern alternative to traditional metal and ceramic braces. Rather than being set permanently in your mouth with bands, brackets, archwires, elastics, hooks, and coil springs, Invisalign braces are plastic trays that you can take out of your mouth. These aligners need to be custom made so they can fit your unique mouth perfectly, and you’ll need to use different trays as your teeth shift into position over time. This could be a more comfortable, less noticeable option. Plus, you also have the ability to remove your aligner before eating and brushing your teeth, so it’s even easier to eat the foods you love and keep your teeth clean. 

• Lingual braces – Back to metal braces, another option is lingual braces. These are less obvious because they’re placed on the back of your teeth rather than on the front. However, a drawback is that they’re typically not as comfortable as regular braces.
No matter what type of braces you go with, they all work the same: by applying pressure, they’re able to gradually move your pearly whites into a healthier, more attractive position. 

How Long Do You Need to Wear Your Braces?

The length of time that it will take to straighten your teeth and/or fix your bite will depend on the severity of the problem. While some people might only need braces for a little over a year, others might need to wear them for around three years. 
It’s also worth noting that after your braces are removed, you might not be totally done, as your orthodontist might tell you that you need to wear a retainer to ensure the results will last. This is a mouthpiece that’s custom made to fit your teeth, and your orthodontist will give you instructions on when to wear the retainer, and for how long.  

How Can You Be Sure You’re Keeping Your Braces Nice and Clean?

Keeping your braces clean is imperative, as failing to do so could boost the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and unsightly stains or spots. 
What should you do to keep your teeth and braces as clean as possible in between appointments with your dentist? 
1. Avoid having foods that are starchy, sticky, chewy, or sugary. These foods can easily adhere to your braces, and once that happens, it can be hard to clean them. On top of that, it’s also a good idea to avoid eating foods that are hard, as these might do damage to the braces themselves, such as the brackets and wires. 

2. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions regarding how to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth while wearing your braces. You might be taught how to use special tools, such as floss threaders and an interdental toothbrush, to clean areas that are hard to reach because of your braces. 

3. Brushing your teeth after every meal, or at least rinsing your mouth after eating, is a smart strategy. Remember, when you’re wearing braces, it’s surprisingly easy to end up with trapped food particles that can do a lot of harm to your oral health. 

4. In addition to taking care of your teeth and gums at home, schedule appointments with your dentist to have your teeth examined and cleaned on a regular basis. 

Are Braces Expensive?

Unfortunately, yes, braces can be expensive, potentially costing thousands of dollars. Thankfully, there are many dental insurance plans that include coverage for orthodontics, especially for children under 18 years of age. 
To find the right plan in your area that will give you the orthodontic coverage that you need at a price you can afford, check out the Direct Benefits Marketplace. There, you can search through your options, select the plan that will help you save the most money, and sign up with ease. Translation: you can do it all in one convenient place!
Once you have the right dental insurance and you see an experienced orthodontist, you can be well on your way towards having a beautiful smile you’ll be proud to show off!