Starting orthodontic treatment is very exciting! Have you wondered what exactly happens on the day that you get braces? Many patients feel a bit nervous and are unsure of what to expect.
Before the appointment
You will want to plan on spending about 1.5-2 hours getting your braces on. The initial bonding appointment has several steps. Many patients like to have a good meal before getting braces on, because eating will be a little tricky at first. It is also nice to brush and floss before coming in, because these tasks are more complicated once the braces are on. You also may like to apply some lip balm to prevent chapped lips, as your mouth will be open for a good part of the procedure.
During the appointment
When you arrive at Dr. Scott Peterson’s Queen Creek / San Tan Valley office, a friendly staff member will help you get checked in. One of Dr. Peterson’s orthodontic assistants will show you to your seat. The assistant may take one x-ray of your skull if it has not been completed yet. She will also perform a digital iTero scan, which replaces the gooey alginate impressions that orthodontists used to use. The scan is a simple procedure, lasting five minutes or less, and is completed using a wand with a small camera on the end. It will be smoothly glided along your teeth to form the digital “before” image.
After the x-ray and scan are completed, Dr. Peterson’s assistant will clean your teeth using a special pumice paste and water. Next, a plastic cheek retractor will be placed to gently stretch your lips away from the surface of the teeth. Your teeth will be dried with air and a gel will be applied that helps to prepare the tooth surface for bonding. This sits for a moment and then the teeth are rinsed and dried well. A primer will be painted onto the tooth surfaces, and then bracket placement can begin!
Dr. Peterson and his assistant will work together to place each bracket perfectly. Once they are all on, a bright blue light will be used to harden the glue. Now the cheek retractor can be removed. Dr. Peterson will select arch wires to place in the brackets. Typically, you will start off in thin and flexible wires, and slowly progress to stronger wires as time goes on. The orthodontic assistant will place the arch wires, secure them into the brackets, and clip the ends to ensure they do not poke your cheeks.
Depending on your individual orthodontic treatment needs, Dr. Peterson may choose to place small glue dots called bite bumps on some of your back teeth. These can serve several purposes, such as keeping you from biting off brackets if you have a deep bite, or helping your braces to work a little faster by separating the two arches from each other. Dr. Peterson will likely also have you begin wearing rubber bands right away to help correct your bite. It is very important to wear them exactly as he instructs. Generally, he will have you wear them at all times except when eating or brushing.
At this point, your appointment is almost over. You’ll be shown a video that will teach you how to care for and clean your braces. You will also learn about what kinds of foods you can and cannot eat with braces on. You will be given a new patient kit which includes useful items such as a hygiene kit and water flosser. Lastly, a staff member will help you to schedule your next appointment, which will be 6-10 weeks out. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask the orthodontist or a staff member.
After the appointment
After your braces have been put on, your mouth will feel strange at first! Generally, soreness will set in either that night at bedtime or the next morning. Everything will feel very tender for 3-5 days. You will want to eat soft foods such as soup, yogurt, applesauce, and ice cream. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to manage pain, in the same dose you would take for a headache. If you develop sores on your cheeks from rubbing brackets, use salt water rinses. Wax from your kit can be used to cover the offending brackets. After that first few days, your teeth and mouth will adjust and begin to feel more normal.
Call your orthodontist as soon as possible if any part of your braces ever seems loose or broken. Broken brackets that are ignored for weeks on end can prolong your treatment. Save any piece that falls off in a ziploc bag.
Sometimes, as the teeth begin to move, wires can start to poke out at the back because all that length is no longer needed. Call the office if that happens, and they will schedule a time for you to drop by and get them trimmed.
Hopefully, learning what exactly happens when you visit your orthodontist for braces has helped to put your mind at ease. Dr. Scott Peterson of Peterson Family Orthodontics has created many beautiful smiles. Yours could be next! If you are in the Queen Creek or San Tan Valley area and want to learn more about starting orthodontic treatment, schedule your free consultation today.