Learning to Take Better Care of Your Family's Teeth

What You Should Know When Getting Braces

Getting braces is something that has been heavily stereotyped in American culture. For folks who are worried about the alignment of their teeth, it can be helpful to learn what the real deal is and how things will go. Here are a few things that patients should know before they get braces:

There Are Many Options

The old image of a face full of metal is seared into the popular imagination, but there are plenty of alternatives on the market today. Options include braces that use ceramics to closely match the color of the person's teeth. There are also lingual models that attach to the backs of the teeth to minimize aesthetic issues. Self-ligating braces exist to reduce the number of visits patients take to the doctor to have the appliances adjusted. Additionally, expanders are sometimes used to move the molars back.

Not all solutions are ideal for all patients, though. You should always talk with your provider about what approach most closely matches your medical situation and your budget.

An Initial Exam is Critical

Attaching braces when a patient has other oral health concerns is a deeply unwise choice. Your doctor will have x-rays made so they can determine whether there may be other dental health issues. It's not uncommon for the staff at a practice to work with a patient to restore their teeth and their gums prior to a procedure. Parents should be aware that all adult teeth should come in before seeking braces for their kids, too. By getting your mouth in top shape before braces, the team at your dentist's practice can significantly improve the chances of success.


Minor dental alignment issues may be resolvable within a few months, but serious cases may require between one and three years. After braces are removed, patients will need to wear retainers full-time for 6 months, but they may have to use retainers during their sleep for years or even for the rest of their lives. Athletes may need custom mouth guards to protect their teeth, too.

Due to discipline requirements in handling things like maintaining the braces and putting in retainers, a doctor will want to know a patient is mature enough. If there are concerns about maturity, less-supervised options may be eliminated in favor of simpler ones like metal braces that require more visits to the dentist's office.

For more information about getting braces, you can contact a dental clinic in your area.