After your metal braces are applied to your teeth, why should you continue take time to come in for regular orthodontic checkups, and what happens during an appointment? Our BC orthodontists explain in this post.
Traditional Metal Braces & Keeping Teeth Clean
After you get metal braces, you may think they are in your mouth and should mostly work as intended without intervention, so why would you need to see your orthodontist regularly? After all, you'll still be seeing your dentist every 6 months, right?
We sometimes get this question from people who feel they are pressed for time and wonder if they really need to see both their dentist and their orthodontist. However, we can assure you that coming to see your orthodontist regularly is essential, as they need to check in on the progress of your orthodontic treatment.
Seeing a dentist regularly is also integral to your treatment's success, and to your oral health. While an orthodontist focuses on straightening teeth, correcting misalignment and other problems and helping you achieve a stable, healthy bite, a dentist's job is to perform hygiene cleanings, help prevent and address cavities and other oral health issues and provide advice to help you maintain a healthy smile.
It's essential to see your dentist every 6 months to help keep your orthodontic treatment on schedule. Cavities or gum disease can cause complications that can delay or inhibit orthodontic treatment. Gum health is important to making sure your braces do their job of correctly aligning your teeth. Prognosis can actually worsen for patients who undergo orthodontic treatment while suffering from gum disease.
When teeth are properly aligned, the gums fit properly around your teeth, reducing your risk for gum disease since there's less room for plaque and bacteria to grow. However, if you already have gum disease, orthodontic treatment can exacerbate the condition. Gum disease can cause bone loss around the teeth, and the movement of teeth during orthodontic treatment can worsen bone loss, which can lead to an unstable bite.
That said, gum disease is treatable, and can be corrected if caught in its early stages.
What happens at a braces checkup?
During orthodontic treatment, your braces will help align your teeth into their proper positions. Here's what you can expect at a braces checkup:
Progress Tracking - No matter how long your orthodontic treatment is predicted to last, your orthodontist will need to closely monitor this long-term process. Since everyone's mouth is different, your orthodontist will want to track how your teeth shift to ensure everything is progressing according to your custom treatment plan.
Adjustments - Your orthodontist will make minor adjustments to your braces during your orthodontic checkups. Braces wires will need to be adjusted periodically to ensure your teeth are being moved into their ideal positions. These adjustments are necessary to ensure your treatment progresses as it should.
Replacing Bands - While rubber bands are integral to the proper function of braces, these elastic bands can gradually degrade. Your orthodontist will replace bands with newer and stronger ones to help prevent them from breaking suddenly and to ensure your treatment moves along.
Why shouldn't I skip a checkup with my orthodontist?
Unless you experience pain or other obvious issues, you may wonder if orthodontic checkups are really unnecessary during your orthodontic treatment.
If you miss appointments, your orthodontist won't be able to inspect and tighten your braces as needed, and the completion of your treatment will be delayed. Just by skipping a few appointments, you could add a year or more to your total treatment time.
Once your teeth have shifted between appointments, your metal braces won't be applying as much force to your teeth. In fact, if it's been longer than a month since your braces have been adjusted, they may not be working as they should. Frequent adjustments are required to tighten your braces wires and keep your treatment on schedule.
We recommend doing everything you can to accommodate your regular appointment schedule with your orthodontist.
Do orthodontic checkups replace dental hygiene appointments?
While any dentist will recommend a consistent at-home oral care routine coupled with regular visits to a dental office to maintain excellent oral health, this becomes even more important during orthodontic treatment with braces. Food particles and bacteria can easily become trapped in braces brackets and wires. If not brushed away properly, harmful plaque and tartar can develop and lead to cavities and other oral health problems.
Dental hygiene appointments and orthodontic checkups work hand-in-hand to help you maintain oral health and prevent dental disease as you progress through orthodontic treatment.
If your dentist finds that you may need a bit of extra attention during your orthodontic treatment, he or she may recommend coming in more frequently for professional cleanings to help keep your smile as healthy as possible while your braces are doing their work.
While checkups for your braces will no longer be necessary after your orthodontist removes them, this won't be the last time you see your orthodontist. You'll receive a retainer following treatment, and it's important that you use this orthodontic appliances as instructed. The aptly named retainer will help you retain the progress that occurred during orthodontic treatment.
Regular visits with your dentist will still be important to helping you maintain your general oral health, as dentists and hygienists can detect common problems such as cavities and gum disease during oral health exams.
Braces Treatment at My ORTHODONTIST
Our orthodontists in BC often recommend braces to treat complex conditions such as misalignment, overbite, crossbite, overjet, teeth crowding and bite problems.
Properly aligned teeth and good overall oral health can work hand in hand to raise your confidence, and leave you with a more symmetrical smile and teeth that are easier to brush, floss and clean. With proper oral hygiene, you can help prevent future cavities and periodontal disease.
While you may be aware of all of these reasons to consider orthodontic treatment, you may still have some fears and anxieties about whether to embark on treatment.
When you come in for an assessment. we can examine your teeth, address any questions and concerns you may have and help you choose the best course of treatment to fit your needs and circumstances. Our team will be here to guide you and help your treatment schedule go according to plan.