June 13, 2017
Here at Dudley Smiles, we know that getting braces can be an exciting time – it’s the first step in your journey towards a straighter, more beautiful smile! It’s likely that your orthodontist gave you an estimated treatment time before your braces actually went on, but if that day has come and gone, you’re probably wondering why you’re still wearing them. There are several different reasons your treatment might be lasting longer than originally expected. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Your body’s response
During your initial consultation, your orthodontist will examine your jaw and teeth thoroughly to give you an accurate diagnosis and come up with an effective treatment plan. Estimates of your treatment time will be based on the complexity of the problem being treated and the normal response of teeth to typical orthodontic forces. In other words, we can only guess at how your teeth will respond to treatment.
The estimate for the duration of your treatment is based on the time it takes most patients to react to the same form of treatment.
For some patients, the teeth move faster than normal, while for others, they move more slowly than we anticipate. TMJ problems can arise due to arthritis. There’s even a condition called ankylosis where some teeth simply refuse to move at all. These are factors that neither you nor your orthodontist can control. Even if you’re both vigilant about your braces treatment, your teeth and jaws will still need to cooperate in order for you to finish it in the estimated time.
Outside of the way your teeth naturally respond to braces, your treatment plan could also be lengthened because of things like unexpected problems cropping up after your treatment plan has already been determined, changes in your treatment plan, or even missed or rescheduled orthodontist appointments.
Have you stayed true to your treatment plan?
There is one way to have some control over your treatment plan and how long your braces remain on — by always following the instructions you receive from your orthodontist! You may have been given the perfect diagnosis and treatment plan, but it can’t succeed without your cooperation.
So how easy is it to sabotage your treatment time? Here are some things you could be doing that can result in more time in braces.
- missing, changing, or spreading your appointments out with too much time in between them
- arriving late to appointments, leaving insufficient time for all planned procedures
- putting off necessary procedures like surgeries, extractions, etc.
- frequently breaking or bending your wires or brackets between visits
- not adhering to good oral hygiene practices
Visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis as required will help you avoid any complications with your treatment plan. It’s important to keep all your appointments! To ensure your treatment plan is still on schedule, you should always:
- adhere to all your scheduled appointment dates
- reschedule appointments as close to your original appointment date as possible
- arrive on time for your appointments
- take care of any required procedures in a timely manner to prevent complications
- stick to your orthodontist’s guidelines on dental hygiene
The importance of dental hygiene and diet
Dental hygiene is always important, but especially so when you’re wearing braces. Aim to brush your teeth thoroughly 3-4 times a day with fluoride toothpaste, after every meal and before bed, making sure to pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums.
Keep brushing your teeth for at least two minutes each time, placing the tips of the bristles so they’re flat against your teeth, and gently clean them using small circular motions. Then move on to the areas between the gums and the braces, tilting the brush towards the gum line while continuing the circular motions. Next up are the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth, gliding the bristles in a firm back-and-forth motion to clean those areas. Lastly, thoroughly brush the inside surfaces of the teeth using those same small circular motions.
Flossing should be done at least once per day, and preferably each time you brush. It’s an essential part of achieving healthy teeth and gums. It’s easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets of your braces, so flossing should be an integral part of your oral hygiene routine.
Flossing with braces can be a bit of a challenge, but there are tools that can help you, like floss threaders. These work a little like a threading needle — you simply pull one end of the floss through the threader, feed the threader under the archwire, then grab the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. Oral irrigators like a Waterpik can also be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing.
Diet is also an important, albeit often neglected, aspect of oral health. When wearing braces, there are certain foods you should avoid. These can damage the braces and your teeth. When wearing braces, try and steer clear of
- Anything hard, like popcorn, hard candy, and raw apples or carrots
- Anything sticky or chewy, such as caramel, tough cuts of meat, or gummy bears
- Acidic items, like sodas, lemons, or oranges
- Sugary foods and drinks, such as sweets, sodas, smoothies, and overly processed foods
A little patience and understanding goes a long way
It can be incredibly frustrating to see a friend or relative have braces on for no more than a few months when you’ve been in them for what feels like forever. It’s important to remember, however, that no two smiles are the same.
Some people require a great deal of orthodontic treatment before they can even have braces put on. Others can be fitted for braces easily and quickly, and be done with them only months after beginning treatment.
Understanding that not everyone will respond to orthodontic treatment in the same way will give you the perspective you need to patiently wait for your big braces-off day!
Remember, at Dudley Orthodontics, we have a friendly and dedicated team who want to see your braces experience go as smoothly, quickly, and successfully as possible. If you’re wearing braces in Issaquah or Kent, we’re here for you whether you have questions and concerns, or just need a little reassurance that you won’t be in braces forever.
Hang in there — you’ll be showing off a beautifully straight smile before you know it!