Life with braces


Braces can result in a radical change in appearance for many of our patients – a beautiful smile. However, there is an investment of time and attention that is required for a successful treatment and properly aligned teeth and bites. So what are you getting yourself into? Watch Dr. Lofgren answer many of the questions about braces and the next few months of your orthodontic treatment.

How often do I need to see the orthodontist?

For most patients in braces, we will schedule appointments every 6 – 8 weeks. Sometimes your braces are adjusted and sometimes the orthodontist changes wires, but each time the braces are tightened, your teeth are pushed a little closer to where your teeth need to be. We may install rubber bands sometimes during your treatment or ask you to wear a facebow. Rubber bands and facebows are used to make the teeth in your lower jaw line up with the teeth in your upper jaw.

During orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist stretches your jaw and moves around your teeth so that everything fits. If the orthodontist tried to move your teeth all at once, it would hurt too much, and it might damage the roots of your teeth. Generally, we will design a treatment plan that allows braces to move your teeth slowly to avoid too much discomfort. Still, we do have to move your teeth. Every time you have your braces adjusted, the orthodontist moves your teeth a little bit. Then we wait for your teeth, jaw and gums to shift before we start moving your teeth again.

Certain treatments will require patients to see the orthodontist at more frequent intervals. For example, after an expander is started we may ask the patient to schedule appointments for two consecutive weeks so we can guide the expansion process properly. Other types of treatment will allow for greater amounts of time between appointments. We may see patients every two months while directing jaw growth, or every six months if the patient is wearing a more static appliance or a retainer.

Retainers after braces

The retainer keeps your teeth in perfect alignment after braces are removed so you keep a beautiful smile as your mouth grows. Each patient puts in a lot of hard work creating a wonderful smile and stable bite – the retainer is important to keep it all there! Usually, when braces are first removed, your teeth will all be in perfect alignment, and your smile will be excellent. However, your gums, bones, etc will not have completely shifted into their new positions.

The retainer holds your teeth in position until your gums, bones, etc. settle into their new positions. At the end of your orthodontic treatment, your smile will be wonderful and you will look terrific. You need to wear your retainer to keep everything looking great. Also, you are still growing after your braces are removed. Sometimes, your mouth will grow unevenly. If so a retainer can be used to make sure your teeth stay perfect as you grow.

You will need to initially wear the retainer 24 hours a day as prescribed by the orthodontist (typically 3 months), gradually cutting back to 1 or 2 nights a week.  Many patients will have a fixed retainer bonded behind some of their front teeth to help in long-term stability.