One of the first questions people ask when they get braces is, “How long will I have my braces?”
Dental braces straighten teeth by applying slow, steady pressure that moves teeth in a specific direction over time. One of the biggest problems with braces is that they do take time to move teeth. Most people wear braces between 12 and 30 months, depending on how significant their problems are.
There are steps you can take to make treatment go smoothly, so you can get your braces off as soon as possible and get the best results.
HOW TO GET YOUR BRACES OFF SOONER
FOLLOW YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS
While chomping on a piece of hard candy or chewing gummy bears occasionally may seem harmless, they can do damage to your appliances or even lead to cavities. Your orthodontist probably gave you a list of foods to avoid, but the list likely includes popcorn, nuts, hard taco shells, hard and sticky candy, gum, ice, corn chips, pretzels and more.
AVOID SUGARY FOOD
Sweets can leave excess sugar on the surface of your teeth and braces, and this sugar can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If you do snack on sugary food, be sure to brush soon afterward.
CUT YOUR FOOD
Prevent unnecessary damage to your braces by cutting your food into smaller bites, especially if it is something tough. It is especially important to cut chewy meat, crunchy vegetables and other foods that usually require a lot of chewing. Be sure to chew these foods slowly and gently to avoid accidental damage to your wires or brackets.
USE YOUR TEETH FOR CHEWING FOOD ONLY
Gnawing on pen caps, pencils, fingernails or other objects can also bend wires and pull your teeth off course. Chewing ice is bad for your teeth and it could damage the wires and brackets.
DO NOT PLAY WITH YOUR BRACES
Playing with your braces is likely going to cause problems, many times the types of problems that can cause you discomfort. Damaging your appliances in this way may also slow progress.
WEAR YOUR ELASTIC BANDS
This is one of the only ways you have control over how efficiently your treatment moves. Your orthodontist will give you instructions on how much to wear them, but for the most part, the more you wear the elastics, the more progress you are likely to see.
MAINTAIN GOOD ORAL HYGIENE HABITS
A healthy mouth responds to teeth straightening better than an unhealthy one. Brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day. Regular brushing and flossing removes food particles and excess sugar, which could lead to tooth decay and gum problems that can slow down orthodontic treatment. Consult with your orthodontist if you suspect that you have a tooth or gum problem. Get your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every six months.
BRUSH AND FLOSS CAREFULLY
You can damage the delicate wires and brackets by brushing or flossing too aggressively. Appliances can occasionally be damaged and the teeth and gums can also be injured by brushing and flossing that is too aggressive.
SEE YOUR ORTHODONTIST REGULARLY AND FOLLOW RECOMMENDATIONS
Make and keep regular appointments. It is difficult to make progress if you are not seeing your orthodontist for adjustments to your braces. Your orthodontist will check your teeth to make sure they are healthy and on track with your treatment schedule. Your dental health professional will also check your teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy. To speed up your orthodontic treatment, be sure to follow all the recommendations your orthodontist offers.
For more information about getting your braces off sooner – and for better results when you do have your braces removed – speak with your orthodontist.