If you’ve had your braces for about a month or so, you’re probably coming up on your first braces tightening appointment. You may be wondering what to expect during these appointments, especially since you will be visiting your orthodontist pretty frequently for these over the next couple of years. You might be imagining the worst, but here’s the first bit of good news: there is actually no “tightening” happening during a braces follow-up. The reality is a lot less frightening. That’s why knowing what to expect at braces tightening appointments can help you be prepared and ease any anxieties you may have about them. So, here’s what you should know about braces adjustment appointments.
The goal of orthodontic adjustments is to make sure your braces are effectively moving your teeth. Your orthodontist needs to make sure there are fresh elastics and rubber bands so that they continue to apply gentle pressure to move your teeth; worn out ones are essentially doing nothing to help your smile. They will also need to adjust the wires and check on the progress of your teeth to make sure everything is moving in the proper direction. Without these visits, your braces lose their effectiveness over time, and you might have to wear them for longer.
First, your orthodontist or their assistant will remove the elastics that hold the archwire(s) (the wires that go around your teeth to gently apply pressure in certain directions) to the brackets (the metal components that are adhered directly to your teeth), disposing of them if they are worn out or nearing that point. Then, they also remove the archwire, so all that is left on your teeth is the brackets. At this point, they may give you the opportunity to brush and floss your teeth without the wires in the way.
Then, the orthodontist will take some time to look at your teeth and evaluate their progress. He or she will want to determine if they are moving at the proper rate, direction, and angle. This is also when they will make sure you are properly caring for both your teeth and your braces between visits.
The orthodontist will then put an archwire back onto your braces (this may either be the old one or a new one if it is needed). You will also get new elastics – rubber bands that apply pressure to the archwire and keep it attached to the brackets – placed on each bracket, along with any other new options, such as power chains (elastic chains made from a continuous band to bring your teeth together more quickly) if they are deemed necessary.
It is true that an orthodontic tightening may leave you a bit sore. The soreness is usually due to the wire adjustments causing pressure that will eventually cause tooth movement. Some people experience some mild discomfort for a few hours; others have moderate pain for a few days, or anything in between. In any case, the pain should not last very long, and it can be addressed with over-the-counter pain relievers (i.e. acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.), ice, and eating softer foods after your appointment.
It is important to tell your orthodontist immediately if you feel the archwire poking your cheek. This should not be happening, and your orthodontist can use clippers to remove the excess wire. If you don’t let your orthodontist know, it is possible for the archwire to cut the inside of your cheek, which will be quite uncomfortable. If this occurs after eating a few meals, be sure to reschedule with your orthodontist to have the excess removed. If you experience any abrasive or sharp feeling of your braces (whether it is the archwire or the brackets causing the problem) against your cheeks, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist right away. In the meantime, apply dental wax to the tip of the archwire or even to the brackets, if they are causing an issue, until you can see your orthodontist.
Between the removal of the archwire and elastics, the brushing and flossing, the check-up, and the replacement of wires and elastics, it should all take less than half an hour. The typical orthodontic adjustment appointment only takes about 20 minutes.
The skilled orthodontists at BB Braces Braces understand the need for stress-free, fast appointments with open communication and a comfortable atmosphere. Our orthodontic professionals are here to help you on each step towards a better smile. For more information about our locations or services or to schedule an appointment, call us at (770) 222-2322 or fill out our online form!