Choosing to get braces can be a little daunting for teens and adults. But we can confidently say the appliances of today are vastly different from those of years ago. The technique has also improved, allowing our staff at Rollins & Petersen Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ, to deliver treatment in a way that minimally impacts your life.
How Do Braces Affect Your Life?
Aside from a few key factors, life doesn’t change too much while you wear these appliances. One of the most positive aspects, aside from improving your smile, is the healthy habits you’ll adopt. These start with brushing and flossing, both of which are important to your orthodontic treatment as well as your oral health.
Orthodontia means you’ll need to give more time and attention to brushing flossing. A soft- or medium-bristled brush will work just fine; you can also use an electric brush, set at a lower speed, but it’s important the back of this brush doesn’t hit your braces. Keep in mind you may need to replace your brush more often because the metal brackets will compromise the bristles.
Back to Basics
As with all our patients, we recommend brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each. If you’ve consumed a lot of sugary snacks or beverages, you should brush more that day to eliminate unwanted bacteria. Gently target all teeth surfaces without applying too much pressure. When you can see the edges of your brackets, and they look shiny, you know you’ve cleaned your mouth well.
For spaces between gums and brackets, angle your brush toward the gum line and move across each tooth in circular motions. Between the brackets and gums is where most food particles get trapped. Once finished, you can move onto flossing. Simply slide the floss under your wires and then between each tooth. You know the teeth are clean when you hear a squeaky sound as you move the floss back and forth.
You may also need to use tools made specifically for orthodontics. For example, an interdental toothbrush contains tiny bristles that extend outward like a pipe cleaner. This can help you clean small spaces around your appliance, like wires and bands, that can’t be easily reached with a larger toothbrush.
Likewise, a water pick is a handheld device that emits pressurized water in a stream to loosen food stuck between your teeth and within small crevices. This is a great way to supplement your brushing and flossing efforts.
You’ll have frequent dental appointments throughout your course of treatment so we can monitor your progress. These sessions will allow us to fix loose components, make adjustments if necessary, and tighten your wires. This is also a way for us to stay in contact with you, ensuring you’re comfortable with the appliance and are following our recommendations.
We know you have a lot going on, and the last thing orthodontia should do is further complicate your life. That’s why we will work around your schedule in every way possible. Each of these appointments is an important step in your treatment, so attending them is crucial.
Frequent Lip Balm Applications
Lips are more prone to chapping with orthodontics because they have to stretch over the metal. This means you’ll probably need more lip balm than normal to keep lips moist and protected. Carry some with you whenever you leave the house and apply regularly to stop the discomfort associated with chapping.
Changes to Your Diet
It’s true you’ll likely need to make some diet changes. These appliances contain wires, bands, and brackets that can be damaged by the textures of and chewing actions required for certain foods. Essentially, following our guidelines for what you can and cannot eat will safeguard your appliance and prevent tooth decay.
Foods to Avoid
Crunchy foods are at the top of this list because they can bend wires, displace brackets, and loosen bands. They can also cause pain by getting stuck within nooks and crannies that are hard to see. We, therefore, recommend you avoid:
- Most potato chips
- Tortilla chips
- Raw, crunchy vegetables
- Hardshell tacos
- Fruit chews
- Gummy bears
- Bubble gum
Don’t Bend Your Wires
Some foods require that you bite into them with your front teeth. This is a bad idea, however, because doing so puts your wires in harm’s way. They can bend and subsequently loosen brackets. It’s similarly best to avoid chewy foods that may damage your appliance and get stuck. Avoid eating:
- Whole pickles
- Whole apples and pears
- Chicken wings
- Corn on the cob
- Pizza crust
- Beef jerky
Foods to Enjoy
We’ve covered what you can’t eat, which leaves us free to delve into what you can. Keep in mind a lot of the foods we mentioned above offer little nutrition, so you’ll be skipping a lot of junk food and instead focusing on healthy, nourishing options. As we said earlier, this is a habit that can stay with you long term to promote overall health.
So, what can you eat? Meat off the bone, pasta, and potatoes are good places to start. Cooked vegetables are also fine, as they’re easier to chew once they’re soft. Fresh fruits like blueberries, bananas, and peaches make great snacks and can also be put into smoothies. With that said, most fruits can be blended to make a delicious and nutritious smoothie. Additional foods you can enjoy include:
- Soft cheeses
- Ice cream
Positive Changes to Your Appearance
If dental appliances yield one major impact on your life, it’s the change you’ll see in your appearance. Many people believe we use these devices only to straighten teeth. But they do so much more, and for some, this can mean changing your facial shape. For example, a large overbite or underbite can cause protruding teeth or a misaligned jaw that visibly impacts your appearance.
An overbite can make the chin look weak and undefined; an underbite, on the other hand, can cause cheeks to look sunken as the jaw appears more prominent. Correcting either of these conditions will reveal your true facial structure and help you feel more confident.
The Mouth and Lips
Correcting certain malocclusions may also change the appearance of your mouth. An open bite, in which the upper and lower front teeth protrude outward, makes it difficult to completely close your mouth. In turn, the mouth can look disproportionately stretched. After wearing an orthodontic appliance, the shape of your mouth will change subtly, allowing you to see your true reflection for the first time.
Your lips might also become more prominent after treatment, giving you a fuller pout that so many people yearn to have. The alignment and forward position of your front teeth play a major role in the shape of your lips. Moving your teeth into more ideal positions can therefore affect your pout as well. We take into consideration the overall relationship between your lips and face when developing your treatment plan so you get the most balanced results possible.
Positive Impressions and Lasting Results
As you probably know, your appearance can trigger snap judgments in other people. Eyes, hair, and yes, even teeth, can cause assumptions about your:
- General health
- Chances of landing a good job
- Likelihood of getting more dates
More specifically, a study known as the Smile Survey confirms that teeth are among the features people remember most when meeting others. Around two-thirds of Americans think a healthy smile is attractive, and those with nice smiles are more likely to be remembered than those without. The bottom line is this: orthodontia can help you make positive first impressions that will help you form lasting personal and professional relationships.
Improved Social Life
In this same vein, studies show that people associate straight teeth with positive attributes like intelligence, kindness, and friendliness. This is because people with pleasing smiles are believed to be more confident and with the ability to magnetically draw friends to them.
Conversely, a study by the American Association of Orthodontics shows that bad teeth are the biggest dating turn-off in men and women alike. Nearly 80 percent of women say a receding hairline is better in a potential mate than crooked teeth. It was also noted that 22 percent of Americans who don’t like their smiles believe straighter teeth would benefit them socially.
Studies of mock interviews have revealed that job applicants with straight, white teeth are more likely to receive job offers and higher salaries. These same studies have also revealed that, conversely, flawed teeth diminish a person’s chances of getting hired. In fact, 28 percent of Americans in the 18 to 34 age range believe their teeth undermine their abilities to successfully obtain a job.
Better Overall Health
People who feel satisfied with their teeth are more likely to smile – and do so more often. This can significantly improve your health in a number of ways, starting with a better mood. Smiling can lift your spirits, increase positive thoughts, and help you feel happier overall.
It can also lower blood pressure; laughter, which starts with a smile, causes your heart rate to initially ramp up, followed by muscle relaxation and a slight drop in blood pressure. And smiling can also relieve stress, helping your body manage difficult situations with greater ease.
Stronger Dental Health
Braces give you straighter teeth, which in turn make it easier to brush and floss. Conversely, teeth that are crowded or crooked make it tough to completely clean away bacteria, plaque, and food particles. This explains why patients with less than straight teeth often have higher rates of gum disease and tooth decay.
Orthodontia can further protect your teeth from damage. When misaligned, teeth can hit each other in ways that cause chips and erosion. A crossbite can lead to fractured back teeth, while a deep bite makes the front teeth more susceptible to breakage.
Better Smile, Better Life
While braces may pose some temporary limitations and minor inconveniences, the long-term benefits they provide are well worth it. From a healthier smile to improved first impressions, dental appliances can help your confidence soar so you approach life without fear. For more information on how we can give you your best smile, contact Rollins & Petersen Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ, today.