Getting braces can be a big opportunity and an exciting time – you’ve taken the first step towards a straighter, healthier, and more beautiful smile. When you and your orthodontist discussed your treatment plan prior to having your braces placed, you were likely given an estimated treatment time, a month or day you went home and circled in red on your calendar. But what if that day has come and gone now, and you’re still wearing them?
There are several different reasons your treatment might be lasting longer than originally expected. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones!
YOUR BODY’S RESPONSE TO TREATMENT
As part of your initial consultation, your orthodontist examines your jaw and teeth thoroughly to give you an accurate diagnosis and come up with an effective treatment plan. Any estimate of treatment time offered is based on how complex your dental issues are and the normal response of teeth to typical orthodontic forces. To put it simply, as orthodontists, we can only guess at how a patient’s teeth will respond to treatment.
We generally base an estimate for the duration of treatment on the time it takes most patients to react to the same form of treatment. For some patients, the teeth will move faster than normal, while for others, they move more slowly than we anticipate. Things like TMJ problems can arise due to arthritis. There’s even a condition called ankylosis where some teeth refuse to move at all. Unfortunately, factors like this aren’t something you or your orthodontist can control. No matter how vigilant you are about your braces treatment, your teeth and jaws still need to cooperate in order for you to finish it in the estimated time!
Besides the way your body and your teeth naturally respond to braces, your treatment plan could also be lengthened because of things like:
- unexpected problems cropping up after your treatment plan has already been determined
- unforeseen changes in your treatment plan
- multiple missed or rescheduled orthodontist appointments
HOW CLOSELY ARE YOU FOLLOWING YOUR TREATMENT PLAN?
Always following your orthodontist’s instructions is one way to have a bit of control over your treatment plan and how long your braces remain on. Even the most accurate diagnosis and effective treatment won’t be able to succeed without your cooperation and dedication!
It’s easier than you think to sabotage your treatment time. You could be doing things that could result in more time in braces without even realizing it, such as:
- missing, changing, or spreading your appointments out
- regularly arriving late to appointments
- putting off necessary procedures, such as surgeries or extractions
- frequently breaking or bending your wires or brackets
- not practicing good oral hygiene
Visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis will help you avoid any complications with your treatment plan, so it’s really important to keep all your appointments. To ensure your treatment plan stays on schedule, you should always try to:
- stick to all your scheduled appointment dates
- reschedule appointments as close to your original appointment date as possible
- arrive on time for your appointments
- take care of any required procedures in a timely manner to prevent complications
- stick to your orthodontist’s guidelines on dental hygiene
Dental hygiene should be an important part of everyone’s daily routine, but even more so when you’re wearing braces. You’ll want to aim to brush your teeth thoroughly at least two times a day with fluoride toothpaste, and preferably after every meal and before bed.
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes each time, making sure to pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and gums. Place the tips of the bristles so they’re flat against your teeth, and gently clean them using small circular motions. Move on to the areas between the gums and the braces, tilting the brush towards the gum line. Next, you’ll want to tackle the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth, brushing in a firm back-and-forth motion. Lastly, thoroughly brush the inside surfaces of the teeth.
We recommend flossing at least once per day, as it’s an essential part of achieving healthy teeth and gums. Brackets and wires make it easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices of your braces. Flossing removes these particles, keeping your teeth free of bacteria that can cause a build-up of plaque.
Flossing with braces can be a bit of a challenge, but there are tools that can help you, like floss threaders. Similar to threading a needle, you pull one end of the floss through the threader, feed the threader under the archwire, then grab the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. Oral irrigators like a Waterpik can also be used to help make brushing and flossing an integral part of your oral health routine!
THE BEST DIET TIPS FOR DENTAL HEALTH
Diet is an important, if often overlooked, aspect of dental health. When you’re wearing braces, there are certain foods you should avoid to keep from causing damage to your braces and teeth. This includes the following:
- Anything hard (popcorn, hard candy, raw apples or carrots)
- Anything sticky or chewy (caramel, tough cuts of meat, gummy fruit snacks or candy)
- Acidic items (sodas, lemons, oranges)
- Sugary foods and drinks (sweets, sodas, smoothies, overly processed foods)
PRACTICING PATIENCE WITH SAWGRASS ORTHODONTICS
We know how frustrating it can be when you see a friend or relative have braces put on and taken off in what seems like the blink of an eye when you’ve been in them for what feels like forever! Perspective should play a large part in your long game, remembering that no two smiles are ever the same. Some people require years of orthodontic treatment before they can even have braces put on. Others can be fitted for braces easily, and be done with them only months after beginning treatment.
If you understand not everyone responds to orthodontic treatment in the same way, you’ll be able to wait more patiently for the big day when your bracescome off! Sawgrass Orthodontics treats every patient like family, and our team is compassionate and kind. We want nothing more than to see your experience with braces go as smoothly, quickly, and successfully as possible. If you’re wearing braces in Davie, Weston, Sunrise, Cooper City, Plantation, or any of the surrounding area, we’re here for you whether you have questions and concerns about your treatment, or just need a little reassurance that you won’t be in braces forever.
Hang in there — it’ll be your turn to show off your beautifully straight smile before you know it!