Getting braces is a rite of passage for many adolescents and adults. At Sims Orthodontics we take pride in treating our patients with care and attention to ensure that they have the bright, healthy smiles they deserve.
While wearing braces is common, there are a surprising number of myths and misconceptions about braces and how they work. If you’re getting braces soon, you might be wondering about some of the things you have heard.
With that in mind, here are 7 common myths about how braces work.
#1: Wearing Braces is Painful
By far the most common myth about braces is that they are uncomfortable or even painful to wear. While this myth has some basis in reality, it’s also outdated and not relevant to modern braces.
In the early days of orthodontics, patients who wore braces sometimes experienced discomfort or pain, especially when their braces were put on for the first time. With all the recent
advances in orthodontics, today’s braces are smaller, more comfortable, and less intrusive than the braces of the past. The archwires used by orthodontists today are also more flexible and more gentle and move teeth in a more efficient manner. You may experience some soreness at first and of course, it takes time to get accustomed to the way braces feel in your mouth, however it should not be painful.
#2: Braces Start Working Immediately
Another myth that we hear from patients is the one that says that braces start working immediately. We understand that patients are eager to see improvements, but don’t assume that you’ll see results overnight.
The truth is that orthodontic treatments take time to work. Braces are designed to slowly and steadily correct the alignment of your teeth. Since your teeth are positioned in bone, you should be prepared for them to move slowly and gradually.
Most people who wear braces must do so for 18 to 24 months. The time frame will vary depending on your needs, so don’t be afraid to ask questions so you know what to expect.
#3: The Rules for Caring for Your Braces Are Optional
When you first get braces, your orthodontist will explain the rules of caring for them. These include:
- Brushing your teeth three times a day
- Flossing daily
- Avoiding certain sticky, hard, or chewy foods
- Wearing elastics and headgear as instructed
While these rules might seem arbitrary, they’re not. They’re designed to ensure that your braces do their work as quickly as possible so that you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve. For that reason, it’s very important to follow the rules and do what your orthodontist tells you to do to care for your braces – and your teeth.
#4: Braces Will Get in the Way of Your Favorite Activities
You’ve probably heard at least one myth that implies that wearing braces will interfere with your favorite activities. Here are some of the variations we’ve heard from our patients:
- I can’t play a musical instrument if I have braces
- I can’t go swimming in the ocean because my braces will attract fish
- My braces will interfere when I listen to the radio or use my computer
- I can’t play sports if I wear braces
- I can’t kiss anyone else with braces or our braces will lock together
All of these things are false. They arise from misconceptions about braces and how they work. The truth is that:
- If you play a musical instrument, you can continue to do so – although you might have a brief period of adjustment as you get accustomed to playing with braces
- Braces don’t attract fish and it is safe to swim in the ocean while wearing them
- Braces don’t have anything to do with radio reception or electronics
- It is safe to play sports with braces on as long as you wear a mouthpiece to protect yourself
- Today’s braces are small and will not lock onto another person’s braces if you kiss them
Modern braces are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. They shouldn’t interfere with you living the life you want to live.
#5: Braces Will Set Off Metal Detectors
Many of the places we go require us to pass through a metal detector, including airports and government buildings. We often have patients ask us if their braces will set off a metal detector.
The short answer is no. Braces are not made of the kind of metal that metal detectors are looking for. You can expect to pass through metal detectors without any problems – provided you remember to empty your pockets, first!
#6: Braces Will Fix Your Teeth Permanently
When you get fitted for your braces, you may start counting the days until you’ll be able to have them removed. The truth is that braces realign your teeth – but they are only part of the treatment process.
Once your braces are removed, you will need to wear a retainer for – in most cases – at least two years and possibly more if your teeth continue to move. Retainers are important for both adolescents and adults, but especially for adolescents. The reason is that adolescents are still growing and teeth can naturally drift as they do. The retainer will keep your teeth in place and make your new, healthy smile permanent.
#7: You Won’t Need Regular Appointments While You Wear Braces
While braces stay on for 18 to 24 months, it’s a common misconception that they are a “set it and forget it” treatment. The truth is that regular appointments with your orthodontist are required to ensure that your braces are doing their job.
At some appointments, there may not be any need to adjust your braces. At others, you may need to have your wires adjusted. Seeing your orthodontist regularly will serve as a check on your progress and ensure that your treatment is progressing.
To Sum Things Up:
Getting braces is a big event whether you’re an adolescent or an adult. It’s important to know the difference between myths and realities so you can do what you need to do to take care of your braces – and end up with the bright smile we want you to have