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It takes about 1 to 2 hours to get your braces put on. Because they remain attached to your teeth for months or years, braces have to be securely placed. This will take some time.
The exact amount of time may vary because no two people have the same teeth. The type of braces may also play a role (lingual braces can take a bit longer to place).
This article discusses the braces placement process, why it may take more or less time, and what you can expect afterward.
Braces have several parts that work together to put pressure on your teeth. These include brackets, archwires, and rubber bands.
These parts can’t be placed all at once—they must be linked together in the correct order. The process will look something like this:
Sometimes people need spacers to help separate their teeth and prepare them for braces. If you need spacers, you’ll have them placed about a week before getting your braces put on.
Once it’s time to place your braces, your orthodontist will remove the spacers. This may add a few minutes to your overall braces placement time.
Lingual braces, however, may take a bit longer to put on. What makes these braces different isn’t the material they’re made from, but the way they’re attached to the teeth.
Unlike conventional metal or ceramic braces, lingual braces are placed behind the teeth rather than in front. This makes them more discreet but a little more challenging to place because of the limited access.
Having braces put on shouldn’t be painful. However, you’ll feel pressure because the braces exert significant force on your teeth.
While braces placement won’t hurt, you will feel soreness due to the new pressure on your teeth.
Within the first few hours after your appointment, your teeth, jaw, or head may ache. Alternatively, you might only feel discomfort when chewing.
You can expect the soreness to subside after about a week. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain medication (such as Tylenol or Advil) or oral anesthetics (such as Orajel) can give you some relief.
After your first week with braces, your teeth will be more accustomed to the pressure and shouldn’t feel as sore. However, your braces rubbing and scraping the inside of your mouth can be another source of soreness.
To help you prevent and manage this, your orthodontist may provide you with orthodontic wax. Put a bit of this wax on the parts of the braces that are bothering you.
Over the course of the first month or so, this soreness should subside as well.
For your first few days with braces, you’ll need to stick to a soft diet that requires minimal chewing. Your orthodontist will recommend eating foods like the following:
Sticking to soft or liquid foods will keep chewing pain to a minimum. As your mouth gets used to the new pressure and the soreness subsides, you can begin introducing tougher foods again.
However, you'll need to get used to some (less extreme) dietary adjustments. For your entire time with braces, you’ll want to avoid foods that can easily become stuck in your braces.
Avoid hard candy, nuts, corn on the cob, and other hard, crunchy, or sticky foods. These foods pose a risk of one or more brackets popping off. They’ll also make oral hygiene more difficult (see below).
You’ll have to get used to cleaning your mouth several times a day with braces. You should rinse your mouth after eating or drinking something sugary.
Proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing will help keep food and bacteria from getting lodged in your braces.
You’ll need to visit your orthodontist for adjustments every 4 to 6 weeks. These follow-up visits are crucial for successful braces treatment because they ensure that your braces continue to exert the right amount of pressure.
At each adjustment appointment, your orthodontist will change out the worn rubber bands on your brackets. You can have them change the color of the rubber bands if you like. Your orthodontist may also take the opportunity to replace the archwires on your braces.
All in all, these visits shouldn’t last longer than half an hour. Like the first appointment, they may result in some soreness, but this should subside quickly.
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