At Orange County Pediatric Dental Group, patients and their parents are frequently surprised at how comfortable orthodontics for children and teens can be!
One of the most commonly asked questions about dental braces is whether placing them causes any pain or discomfort. Most patients and parents are surprised at how easy it is when the patients have the braces applied. We often will tell our patients that it is like getting a "sticker" put on their teeth. In most cases, there is mild soreness or discomfort after the orthodontic wire is engaged into the brackets, which may last for a few days.
At Orange County Pediatric Dental Group, Dr. Renzi and Dr. House use state-of-the-art self-ligating brackets (braces) for our patients. A "gate" is attached to the bracket, holding the archwire in place. Colored elastic ties can still be placed if the patient chooses, but it is not necessary, as the gate on the bracket holds the wire in place. For Phase II treatment or adolescent orthodontics, where all the permanent teeth receive braces, we are able to use state-of-the-art heat sensitive wires. These gently apply intermittent forces on the teeth (off and on pressure) which tighten and loosen the wire. As foods, drinks, and body temperatures change, the wire tightens and loosens, moving the teeth. These wires are based on space-age technology. Many offices do not use these wires, as they are more costly than the traditional stainless steel wire, but at Orange County Pediatric Dental Group, Dr. Renzi and Dr. House have found that these heat sensitive wires have greatly advanced and improved orthodontic care for their patients, shortening orthodontic treatment time, decreasing patient discomfort, and minimizing/avoiding root shortening due to heavy forces. Unfortunately, these wires can't be used in Phase I treatment as the extreme flexibility also leads to wire breakage when there is a long distance between teeth with bands and braces.
Fixed dental braces are used to treat a wide variety of malocclusions, including "overbite", "underbite", crossbite, and crowding.
What to expect when getting braces
Here is an overview of what you can expect when getting braces:
Placement day – The placement of braces is usually not painful. It may take longer to eat meals, but this is largely because it takes some time to adjust to wearing the braces. In some cases, the teeth may feel more sensitive than usual. Patients should eat softer foods for the first few days after placement of braces. If heat sensitive wires were used, hot foods and drinks should be avoided as patients will experience an uncomfortable tightening. Cold water will relieve pressure caused by heat sensitive wires. Patients will receive an oral hygiene sports bottle with hygiene aids to help clean around the braces and wires. Also, a food list with foods that are safer to eat and foods that are more likely to break brackets is given to patients.
Two days after placement – The first several days after placement of braces can be slightly uncomfortable. This is because the teeth are beginning the realignment process and are not used to the pressure of the archwire engaged in the brackets. Our office will provide relief wax to apply over the braces as necessary. Wax helps provide a smooth surface and alleviates irritation on the inner cheeks and lips. Additionally, over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., Tylenol, Motrin® and Advil®) may be taken as directed to relieve mild soreness.
One week days after placement – Usually, after about one week, any initial discomfort associated with the braces should be completely gone. The teeth will have gradually acclimated to the braces, and eating should be much easier.
Orthodontic appointments – Regular orthodontic appointments are necessary to allow the Dr. Renzi or Dr. House to evaluate the archwire and bracket positions. Wires may be changed to gradually larger wires. The colored elastics can be changed at these appointments and oral hygiene will be evaluated. If oral hygiene is unsatisfactory, we will review oral hygiene with your child or teen, so that he or she doesn't develop white spots or cavities around the braces. Fixed braces work by gradually moving the teeth into a new and proper alignment, so gentle pressure needs to be applied consistently. The first several days after an orthodontic adjustment may be slightly uncomfortable, but remember that this discomfort will quickly fade. If your child or teen has heat sensitive wires, rinsing with cold water will loosen the wire and relieve pressure.
Dealing with discomfort – Over-the-counter pain medication and orthodontic relief wax will help alleviate any mild soreness and discomfort following the placement of braces and orthodontic adjustments.
What if my child or teen breaks a bracket/breaks a wire/the band comes loose? - Place orthodontic wax over the broken bracket/loose band to help hold it in place. Please call our office to schedule an appointment so that we can make room in our schedule and plan accordingly. If there is a broken wire, carefully use a nail clipper to cut the wire near the bracket. Remove the wire and place orthodontic wax over the bracket to cover any sharp edges. Please call our office to schedule and appointment so that we can make room in our schedule and plan accordingly. Calling ahead will help our staff to schedule your child/teen when there is a doctor available and when we have adequate time for your child/teen's treatment. We know that your time is valuable.
If you have any questions about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office.