Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dental Braces

Information written on this site does not substitute for professional medical advice. Seek advice from a GP, community healthcare professional or similar if you are unsure if "it" needs medical attention.

Note: I am in Australia and all costs are in AUD.

Thinking about getting braces? Well read on! This is based on personal experience.
I got braces in 2009 when wearing braces was popular, well in my area at least. My treatment was predicted to last for 9 months but because the date clashed with the Christmas holidays, I got nearly 10 months of wearing braces. The cost of my treatment was around $5000. Yeah, it was on the expensive side. My sister also had braces and she got hers around 3 months before me. Her treatment was predicted to last 18 months and cost it $7000. The orthodontics we went to wasn't the cheapest but at the same time, they are very respected and they had upfront charges. The money we paid included all the subsequent check-ups, cleaning, after-care and after-care check ups in addition to goodie bags.

Picking the right orthodontist for you is the first and most important step. Since I got braces when it was popular, my of my friends had them and what I noticed was that different orthodontists provide different braces and different after care. Make an appointment at a orthodontic clinic and they'll go through the process of how braces work and what treatment they offer. I would recommend you ask them what happens after you have your braces taken off, in regards to how to stop teeth moving back to disarrangement. Some clinics provide fixed retainers and others provide retainers that are able to be taken out when eating. More of this below.
Another important fact about choosing the right orthodontist for you - you're going to be going there for years. Many orthodontists will not touch the work of another orthodontist so you can't jump from one clinic to another easily.

Some orthodontics give you the choice of having at least two types of braces. My sister and I were offered metal or ceramic braces. I had the metal ones and my sister had the ceramic ones. On the other hand, my friends who attended an orthodontist nearby from the one I went to were not offered a choice.

Metal braces are the cheapest option but at the same time, they're the most noticeable. Some people may choose this option because you can change the colour of the bands that surround each bracket. I chose this option because it was the cheapest (only 9 months remember) had a blast changing colours at each check-up!

Ceramic braces are the next step up in regards to invisibility. They're less noticeable than the metal braces but at the same time, they're more expensive and if you don't take care of them they can stain. Near the end of my sister's 18 month treatment her "clear" brackets had changed to a light cream-clear colour. These braces can't support the coloured bands and, honestly, kind-of stand out later in the treatment. They may have "clear" brackets but the wires that attaches the teeth together are not. As the treatment progresses, the wire becomes thicker to assist more movement of the teeth.
Some orthodontists only offer the ceramic braces for the top teeth and use metal braces for the bottom.

Invisalign braces are the clearest type but there is quite the list of cons. These braces won't work for serious dental problems and are only available to teens and adults. This is the more expensive option and some orthodontists do not offer this option. Invisalign braces are basically retainers that need to be replaced every 2 weeks with a new aligner. Treatment can be longer and cost more if you lose these braces. For those who are looking for invisible braces this is the closest you can get but they are visible up close. Be aware that some advertisements show half a mouth with braces and half a mouth with Invisalign braces but if you look closer, the half with Invisalign braces is just a mouth without braces.

Getting your braces put on isn't too bad - there's quite a lot of cleaning and gluing. In the first couple of weeks there is some discomfort and tenderness as your teeth begin to move. It feels as though there's a force pushing your teeth backwards so you tend to want to eat soft food. Foods recommended by the orthodontists include; porridge, yoghurt, smoothies, scrambled eggs, tuna salad, soups, mashed potato and gravy, quiche and salad, pasta dishes and sandwiches with soft spreads and no crust. When you feel comfortable starting on other foods, usually in week 2, they recommend chopping up larger food like fruit and vegetables and eating them on your back teeth.
There are also foods that you should stay away from for as long as you have the braces in for. These include but are not limited to; hard sticky lollies, corn on the cob, popcorn, pork crackling, soft drinks, nuts, crunchy bread, corn chips and ice. Eating these foods may risk you in breaking your braces.

The pain I experienced was not too bad but on the other side, my sister took paracetamol for the pain at night. Some of the brackets may rub against your cheek or inside of the lips and if they do, you're given strips of bees wax to place on the annoying bracket. Unfortunately some orthodontic clinics charge extra for the wax but some places give it for free. Quite a few times I gave my friends unused extras my orthodontics gave me.

Brushing your teeth is basically the same as you would do when brushing teeth but you have to concentrate brushing brackets and wires as well. The most noticeable difference between brushing regular teeth and brushing teeth with braces is that there is more toothpaste foam. You're also given orders to brush with a proxabrush after every meal to ensure that there isn't remnants of food left behind.

You may accidentally break your braces by doing various activities. Just ring up your orthodontist and book an appointment. I was fortunate not to have broken my braces but my sister broke them at least three times. The most memorable one was when she broke them brushing her teeth. I also clearly remember she had been complaining about a bracket in the back after she came back from getting a new wire put in and a few days later we were eating sausages when the wire popped out. Get an appointment as soon as you can because if you have too many breakages or you wait too long to get the break fixed, it will slow down your treatment progress.

Elastics for braces are not always needed. Some people may need the elastics to assist teeth movement or correcting an overbite. There are different strengths of elastic bands, classified in various animals, which one to use is stated by your orthodontist. I did not need them but my sister was required to wear "bear" elastics for the latter reason. Some brackets have a metal piece which enable the elastic to be attached to them, the brackets to be used and how to use them is told to you by your orthodontist. These bands are replaced daily or if broken and you take them out when you eat. Oh, how I remember doing the dishes to find two clear bands on a plate.

Retainers are the last step after your braces are removed. As previously mentioned, some clinics give you removable retainers whereas others give fixed retainers. My orthodontist only gives out the fixed retainers because they recognise that people forget and most of their clients were teens or younger. Most of my friends were given removable retainers and that was when the words of my orthodontist came back, "...people forget...". One after one, my friends eventually stopped wearing their retainers, mainly because they forgot but a few of them because they lost them and didn't replace them because it was costly. Without wearing retainers, their teeth moved back to a near state of what they started with.
The fixed retainers are not uncomfortable. There is some cleaning and gluing required and about a week of having weird lumps (the glue) behind your teeth but you get used to it. So used to it that you don't even process it any more. It is recommended that the fixed retainers stay in for at least 10 years but the longer the better. This is my 5th year wearing them and they have not been a problem at all. 
There may be other issues to fix before getting braces. One of my friends has an underbite which she was told she needed surgery to fix when she's stopped growing at around 20 years of age. Last updated 08/04/2015 by A.  


  1. Excellent information. I may add, though, that it is important to remember regular visits to your dentist for cleanings as part of your aftercare. The work of an orthodontist is not inexpensive, so protect your investment and the appearance of your straightened teeth by getting regular cleanings. You and your orthodontist will both be glad you did.

    Daryl Harrington @ Dental Store

  2. The standard metal braces I received worked the best for me. Yes, they're cheap, but quite effective. After buying numerous pairs of mouth guards every so often, all was well with my braces, even while playing sports throughout high school. Proper care is key. Once you get a proper routine going, wearing braces should provide little to no problems.

    Joanna @ Westheimer Dentist

  3. I have been checking out a few of your stories and i can state pretty good stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog
    Ceramic Braces Vs Metal Braces