The journey to a straight, confident smile often involves navigating the world of orthodontics. For many, this journey includes the use of bracket braces and, after their removal, the introduction of metal retainers.
While bracket braces are a well-known solution for straightening teeth, the journey doesn’t end when they are removed; Retainers are often prescribed to ensure the teeth stay in their new positions.
In this article, we’ll be delving into the patient experience of undergoing treatment with bracket braces, and adapting to life with metal retainers.
Chapter 1: The Decision to Get Bracket Braces
The decision to get braces is a pivotal moment for many; Although patients may not necessarily want a brace, they do want straight teeth. And bracket braces can address a number of dental concerns from straightening the alignment of your smile to improving your bite to aid food digestion.
There are a number of orthodontic options available including Invisalign and hidden lingual braces – it’s not just about the metal anymore, you know? But regardless of which transformative brace you choose for your new smile journey, patience and perseverance are key.
Bracket braces are made up of small metal or ceramic brackets (hence the name) that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth and connected by a thin archwire. Over time, the brackets and wire work together to gently and consistently push the teeth into their new desired positions.
While bracket braces have traditionally been associated with teenagers, they are also a suitable treatment option for adult patients over 18 years of age. And, thanks to progress in the field of orthodontics in recent years, bracket braces are now less conspicuous, allowing for a more discreet treatment option.
Chapter 2: Life with Bracket Braces
The initial days after getting bracket braces fitted often involve adapting to the sensation of having foreign objects in the mouth. Chewing and speaking may feel awkward, and there might be some discomfort as patients experience gradual pressure on their teeth. But rest assured these feelings soon subside, usually within a few days.
Speaking of chewing, your orthodontist will advise you to avoid certain foods and drinks that can damage or stain your brace. Hard, crunchy and chewy foods such as popcorn, nuts, chewing gum, and sweets can potentially damage your brackets. And curries, fresh berries, red wine and coffee are just some of the pigmented foods and drinks that can stain ceramic bracket braces if not properly cared for.
Here at Orthodontics For You, we encourage our patients to be extremely diligent when it comes to their oral hygiene while their bracket brace is fitted. This is because food and drink particles can quickly and easily become trapped within the brackets and wires. Your brace can act as a hive for bacteria if not thoroughly cleaned and cared for, leading to a build-up of plaque and subsequently increasing your risk of dental diseases.
While wearing your bracket brace, you’ll be invited to attend check-up appointments with your orthodontist who will review the condition and effectiveness of your brace, ensuring it continues to exert a consistent and gradual pressure. These check-up appointments are held every 6 – 8 weeks and give your orthodontist the opportunity to check the health of your teeth and gums to ensure they remain clean and strong while your new smile begins to take shape.
Chapter 3: The Day of Freedom – Brace Removal
While the journey may seem daunting at first, the promise of a beautifully straight smile serves as good motivation. The day a patient’s braces are finally removed is a celebration – seeing their reaction to a new straight smile is one of the greatest perks of our job! But the journey doesn’t end there…
While the removal of bracket braces is a momentous occasion, it marks the beginning of a new phase — the retention phase. Metal retainers are prescribed once a brace is removed in order to retain the new position of the teeth.
Also called wire retainers, these are removable retainers made of a thin metal wire and plastic (or acrylic) shaped section to fit the roof of your mouth, or along the inside of your lower teeth. The attached metal wire runs across the front of your teeth to maintain alignment.
Retainers are custom-made for each individual patient and are typically worn for a specified duration, this could be a few weeks or months, before transitioning to nighttime use only.
Chapter 4: Adapting to Life with Metal Retainers
Many patients prefer the retainer stage of their treatment journey as it allows them a little more freedom, but it also requires more discipline.
Some patients may experience some discomfort or difficulty speaking, but just like with bracket braces, these issues usually subside within a few days as their mouth adapts. But unlike bracket braces, retainers are removable, lifting the restriction on certain foods and drinks (mentioned above), making eating and cleaning more convenient.
Because the retainers are removable, it can be tempting to take them out whether it be for a social event or patients forgetting to put them back in after a meal. This is where the discipline comes in as the excitement of a transformed smile begins to fade. Keep in mind that just because you can remove your retainer, doesn’t mean you should. To stop your teeth from relapsing, your orthodontist will recommend a specific time frame to wear the retainer which patients must adhere to if they want to maintain their alignment and keep their new Hollywood smile.
Chapter 5: Overcoming Challenges
We mentioned earlier that while wearing a bracket brace, patients will be invited to attend regular check-up appointments with their orthodontist every 6 – 8 weeks. And it’s the same for their retainer – although appointments aren’t as frequent.
These appointments are to monitor the stability of the teeth, ensuring they remain in their corrected positions and are maintained by the retainer. If there are any signs of relapse, your orthodontist will advise on the next steps to correction (although this won’t be necessary for patients who adhere to their retainer routine).
The journey with bracket braces and metal retainers is marked by commitment, resilience and the pursuit of lasting results. While bracket braces set the stage for transformation, metal retainers play a crucial role in preserving that newfound confidence.
If you’re considering orthodontic treatment and want to know more about bracket braces and metal retainers, contact us today. We’ll schedule a free consultation appointment to assess your teeth and current misalignment, before advising how bracket braces could straighten your smile and improve your confidence.