Some people would say vanity is a sin, and sins don't come without something to make you wish you hadn't veered from the path of righteousness. Whether you're having braces fitted for cosmetic reasons or because your bite's awkward, you're likely to experience some issues. Everyone experiences orthodontic treatment differently. Some people have naturally mobile teeth, or a higher pain threshold, but let's highlight the main things you can expect from your fixed braces.
1. Discomfort Yes, I'm afraid so! Most people will experience some discomfort in the first week or two. Like those awful dreams in which you take a wrong footing and your teeth fall out into the palm of your hand, your teeth may feel like they're being forced out of place – which, of course, they are! Try taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help dull the sensation.
2. Sores and ulcers Some people are more prone to mouth ulcers than others. You'll find that parts of your brace rub against your gums, tongue or cheek, especially when you speak. Use dental wax to help prevent rubbing and apply antibacterial gel, to treat any ulcerations that do develop. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water (½ teaspoon per cup) a few times a day may also help.
3. Broken bits and pieces Fixed braces are quite a complex piece of kit, with pressurised elastic loops, wires and brackets – all of which can, and do, break from time to time. This isn't a big problem but can mean extra trips to the orthodontist. To minimise damage, avoid hard or very sticky food and chewing gum. If you play sports, then it's a good idea to get a mouth guard to protect your braces.
4. A longer bathroom routine When you have a brace, your oral hygiene becomes more important than ever. Plaque will form much more easily, so you'll need to brush your teeth after every meal. Flossing twice a day is vital, especially if your orthodontist has created bigger gaps between your teeth to allow them to move.
5. Straight teeth isn't the end Your pearly whites will eventually shift into place but that doesn't mean it'll be time to throw your braces away completely. Most people will need a retainer – a removable plastic tray or a metal wire across the back of the teeth that will keep them from slipping back into their old positions.