What are Braces & how do they work?

Braces are an orthodontic treatment that works to straighten teeth when they need aligning for aesthetic and functional purposes. Braces consist of metal brackets and wires anchored to the teeth to slowly move them into a straighter position over several months. Thanks to advances in technology, you can get a few different types of braces to achieve your desired smile with minimal disruption to your lifestyle – read on to learn about your options.

How are braces different from clear aligners?

Clear aligners (also called removable braces, or known by the popular brand name Invisalign) are a popular orthodontic treatment because they are virtually invisible and removable when eating and drinking food. Clear aligners consist of a series of clear plastic mouth trays that fit tightly over the teeth, which are worn in two-week intervals before being exchanged with the next set to continue to shift teeth in the desired direction.

The main difference between fixed braces and clear aligners is that fixed braces cannot be removed like clear aligners.

Clear aligners can often be used for adult orthodontics and sometimes for older teenagers who will remember to wear their aligners as directed, however fixed braces can be a good choice for children and adults with more complex issues to correct as they will be working continuously to straighten teeth. We know many people are concerned about the appearance of fixed braces, but advancements in technology mean they can have clear or ceramic brackets attached to thin or tooth-coloured wires, so they can be extremely discreet.

How do I know if I need braces?

Your dentist can evaluate if you need orthodontic treatment like braces. If you have any of the following symptoms or problems, contact your dentist to discuss treatment options:

  • Teeth are visibly poorly aligned and impacting your smile
  • Pain or difficulty opening jaw or chewing
  • Pain in your teeth, gums, and jaw
  • Sleep apnoea or trouble breathing

Some common concerns about braces

We know you might have questions about how to look after your braces, what you can and can’t do with braces, and how often to visit your dentist during treatment. Read on to put your mind at ease and learn more about some common concerns people have about getting braces.

Do braces hurt?

You might experience some minor discomfort while wearing braces, but this is likely only to occur when you first begin wearing your braces or after adjustments. Any discomfort will settle quickly and can be managed with pain medication.

How to clean braces

To make sure your braces do their job properly and that you maintain a healthy mouth during treatment, it’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Braces require a bit of attention when cleaning, so make sure to brush thoroughly around the brackets and wires to keep them free of debris. There are several special tools that can make cleaning your braces easier, such as interdental picks, water irrigators, and an electric toothbrush. You might like to consider purchasing some of the items in advance If you don’t already own them.

Your dentist will offer personalised advice and instructions on cleaning and taking care of your braces during treatment.

What can I eat with braces?

If you’re concerned about not being able to enjoy your normal diet with braces, don’t worry! You can still enjoy most food and drinks with braces, however there are some foods that can damage your braces. Because braces are fixed to your teeth, it’s important to steer clear of any sticky or hard foods that can become stuck to your brackets and wires, or worse, pull them off! Some foods to avoid include:

  • Sticky lollies (like chewy caramel or gummy bears)
  • Hard lollies (like lollipops)
  • Nuts
  • Chewing gum (sugar-free gum is ok)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Popcorn

How often do I need to visit my dentist?

During your orthodontic treatment, you will need to visit your dentist at regular intervals so your dentist can make sure your treatment is progressing as it should, and so any necessary adjustments or tightening can be done. As well as these appointments, you should aim to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a routine check-up and clean (braces or not!).

Will I need to wear a retainer after treatment?

It is essential you wear a retainer after treatment to ensure your teeth remain in their new, straightened position. Some retainers are anchored onto the inner teeth, and others are removable and invisible (like a clear aligner). Your dentist will discuss your options with you during your appointment.

Ready to start your journey to a straighter smile?

If you think you’d benefit from braces, contact us to discuss your options or book an appointment now!


Please note: Childrens Orthodontics may not be available at every 1300SMILES practice. Please ask us if you have a preferred practice location.

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