Need Braces? Now What?


Finding an orthodontist and choosing a treatment option can be a scary proposition if you have never done it before. If your first child needs braces or you are looking for braces for yourself, you might not be sure where to start. There is a lot that goes into it. Not only do you have to pick an orthodontist, but you have to choose a treatment plan and then figure out how to pay for it all. Don’t go running for the hills just yet though. Follow these steps and you will navigate the process like a pro.

Don’t just settle for any orthodontist

You are only setting yourself up for failure if you just make an appointment with the first orthodontist you find online. Braces are a big commitment and affect both the health of your teeth and the health of your pocketbook. Your decision should never be rushed. Often times, your dentist will give you a referral, but it is also a good idea to ask your friends and family for referrals too. Do a google search as well and look for reviews. Experience and credentials are, of course, important, but also see if they have stayed up on all the latest trends in orthodontic care. If you read anything troubling, you know who to avoid.

Once you are armed with some information, schedule consultations with a few of your most promising leads. This is the time to get any unanswered questions addressed and for you to get a feel for the friendliness of the staff and how clean and technologically up-to-date the office is. If the office looks like you took a time machine back to the 70s, then run.

Consider all your treatment options

The great thing about technology today is that because of it, you have so many more options when it comes to braces. There are the traditional metal braces, Invisalign clear plastic aligners and ceramic braces. The braces can also be adhered to the front or the back of the teeth as well. There are pros and cons to each option and the cost of each may differ as well so you need to weigh everything carefully. Your orthodontist will help you create the best plan for your particular situation.

Ask about payment options up front

Sometimes cost can unfortunately be a big factor. Dental insurance will often pay for some of the treatment and then you have to put up the difference. If you have money saved up, then you can simply pay upfront for whatever you need to. If you don’t have a cushiony savings account, then you will need to see if they offer any payment plans. Choose an orthodontist who has your best interest at heart and will truly work with you on finding options that fit your budget.

Make your final decisions

Once you choose your orthodontist and your type of braces, then it is go-time. You will make an appointment to start treatment. Hopefully if you have done your research, you will feel confident about the treatment process.

What to expect during treatment

While each treatment is a little bit different, once your braces are put on, you will be required to come back for checkups every 4 to 6 weeks to see how everything is progressing and to make tweaks as necessary. Often times you will need to add rubber bands to your braces to help the repositioning process. Braces are not painful, but when they are first put on and when tightening occurs, you may feel a little discomfort. Invisalign plastic aligners will need to be replaced every 2 weeks so besides your monthly checkup, you will also need to schedule time in to pick up your new aligners. Also, don’t forget to visit your regular dentist every 6 months for a cleaning as well. It can be a big time commitment, but it will be worth in the end when you see the results.

If you choose traditional metal braces then you will have to avoid certain foods that can get stuck in your braces like popcorn, gum and hard candy. With Invisalign, the most important thing is to make sure you wear the aligners at least 20 to 22 hours a day. Because the aligners are easily removed you can take them out before you eat and before you brush and floss your teeth. This is convenient, but what if you forget to put them back in? You will need to be more diligent with the aligners. The metal braces stay in your mouth throughout the whole treatment process.

It’s a new you

Typically, you may have to wear braces for up to 3 years to have the best effect. With Invisalign, however, adult treatment might only take a little over a year. For teenagers, the treatment length is still up to 3 years even with Invisalign. Sometimes your orthodontist will also give you a retainer to wear to help keep your teeth in their new position.

Through it all, once the braces are removed and you get a peek at your beautiful smile, you will be so glad you decided to get braces. You will love flashing your pearly whites now. You will be amazed at how a beautiful smile can not only affect how people respond to you, but also how you feel about yourself. With a renewed sense of self, you will no longer be awkward in social situations both romantic and work-related.

It is not all about aesthetics though. A straighter smile means a healthier smile. With crooked teeth straightened out and misaligned jaws corrected, you will also be able to care for your teeth better which means less cavities and less dental problems like gum disease and tooth loss as you age. You are also protecting your overall health as well. Dental problems are linked to headaches and earaches and if you were to end up with gum disease, you will have an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

You should feel very proud that you did this for yourself or your child. Congratulations on a successful treatment!