Below are a few frequently asked questions that people may have when considering braces. Prior to your orthodontic treatment Dr Derek Coetzee will answer all the different questions that you may have.

At what age should I get braces?
Healthy teeth can be straightened at almost any age, but what’s the right age for your kids to get braces? According to research, the best age to get the most out of an orthodontic treatment such as wearing braces can be achieved between the age of 9 and 13. Those who did not have proper orthodontic treatment during those years can still be treated in order to correct malocclusion and even adults can get orthodontic treatment by taking advantage of either the tooth coloured or invisible braces which are not as obvious as the traditional metal braces and the latter can be removed while the person is eating or brushing their teeth.

Am I too old for braces?
There is no age limit for braces. As long as your gums are in good health, braces can be used to straighten your teeth and correct your bite. More people over the age of 30 are getting braces today than ever before.

What is it like to have braces fitted on your teeth, is it painful?
Getting braces put on your teeth does not hurt, and does not require anaesthetic injections or anything painful.

Can I get those invisible braces (Invisalign) instead of the normal ones?
That depends on your specific individual case. Invisalign braces are usually not recommended for very complicated cases, or cases that involve tooth extractions. Only a qualified dental professional who has examined your mouth can decide whether Invisalign is right for you. If you are very concerned about your appearance with braces, another thing to consider is tooth coloured braces, which are made of a ceramic material and match the colour of your teeth and are therefore less noticeable.

What are some of the risks of getting braces as an adult?
Just like any medical or dental procedure, there are some risks involved in orthodontic treatment, no matter what your age. The forces involved in braces can cause some amount of trauma to the dental tissues and support structures. However, the majority of patients successfully complete their treatment without any major complications.

Some of these risks include:

  • Root resorption – The structure of the tooth’s root may break down, causing a reduction in its length.
  • Gum recession – The loss of gum tissue around the tooth, which in severe cases can expose the tooth’s root. The “triangle” of gum tissue surrounding some teeth may also recede.
  • Allergic reactions – If you are already allergic to nickel or latex, there are alternative brackets and bands which are nickel free and gloves and elastics that are latex free. You may be sensitive to these substances and not realize it until you get braces. If you develop unusual swelling or tenderness in your gums during your treatment, or any sort of rash on your face and mouth, allergy may be the cause.

Can I get braces just on the top or bottom?
That depends on your individual case. Orthodontics isn’t just about making your teeth straight or making them look better. Most dentists and orthodontists take a lot of things into consideration when recommending treatment, such as:

  • how the top and bottom teeth correspond to each other (i.e., your bite)
  • how well you can chew
  • whether you have a tongue related problem
  • whether extraction or surgery will be necessary to correct your bite
  • whether you will need any additional appliances during your treatment, such as a palate expansion device or headgear.
  • Your facial profile as this is influenced by the underlying tooth and jaw position

There are many other factors to take into consideration as well. This is why a full set of braces is sometimes needed, even if you think that you only need them on the top or bottom teeth. Of course, some people are lucky. Their bites are good and perhaps they only need minor straightening. People in this position often can get braces only on the top or bottom teeth.

When will I begin to see changes in my teeth after the braces are put on?
On average, most people begin see changes in their teeth in the first 2 to 6 weeks of treatment.

Should I get teeth extracted as part of my orthodontic treatment?
It depends on your specific individual case. When we are young and our jaws are still growing, dentists/orthodontists can work with our growth to straighten the teeth without the need of extraction to create space.

Once we are adults, the options are more limited as there is no longer the possibility of growth in the jaws. If extraction is recommended, it may be wise to get at least one more (if not two more) opinions before going through with the procedure — once the teeth are gone, they’re gone! Your teeth and jaw help to shape your face. Changing the underlying structure will result in some changes in your facial appearance. Sometimes however, depending on your unique case, extraction may unfortunately be the only way to successfully straighten your teeth and correct your bite.

How long does it take to close gaps between teeth after an extraction?
That depends on your body’s unique physiology. Gaps in teeth on the lower jaw tend to close slower than on the upper jaw. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year to close extraction gaps.

Do you have to change what you eat when you wear braces?
Yes, you do, to some extent. At first your teeth will be sensitive and you will not be able to bite into hard foods, big sandwiches, or anything too chewy or crunchy. It is best not to bite into anything while you have braces on your teeth as this can damage them and it is best to stick to soft foods until your teeth begin to feel less sensitive which is usually in a few weeks.

How does it feel to wear braces?
Initially, you will be aware of an unusual feeling of pressure on your teeth. If any of your teeth have metal bands around them, this will feel a bit weird, but not unbearable. At first, feeling the braces underneath your lips will be a strange sensation. After about a week, you’ll probably find that you barely notice it.

You should stick to soft foods for the first day or two; nothing crunchy or hard, nothing too large or difficult to bite and chew. The first day, it may not hurt too much. The second and third days, it may feel like somebody hit you in the teeth with a brick.

Take a pain reliever like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol and try to chillax. It will get better! At first you will not be able to eat certain foods, anything hard, chewy or crunchy. When you eat out, think of your teeth first and be kind to yourself! Order soft foods! Chewing will be difficult. You may bite the insides of your cheeks.

The metal hooks on the brackets may be uncomfortable. Just chew slowly and carefully. Do not take large mouthfuls. Hint: Fill up on protein-rich foods, not just carbohydrates, so you can go several hours between meals!

At first, you won’t be used to food getting lodged in your braces. This really takes some time to get used to. It does not hurt; it just feels uncomfortable and makes you want to run immediately to the bathroom to rinse and brush. In time it won’t bother you as much.

Use dental wax on the little hooks or brackets that hurt. You may not need to use the wax for long, maybe just a week or two until your mouth adjusts to all the hardware. Just break off a piece of wax and place it in the offending area.

Don’t try to floss for several days, or even a week. It will probably hurt too much. After a week or two, your teeth may feel loose. This normal and necessary. It indicates that your teeth are moving and subsides in a week or two.

If you require orthodontic treatment simply contact Dr Derek Coetzee by completing the contact us form.