So your orthodontist just finished placing your braces and you’re super excited to start seeing your dream smile come to life before your eyes! Next thing you know the orthodontic assistant is saying something about scheduling your “braces tightening appointment”?
If that gives you images of a metal crank against your braces wire, with a background of evil laughter, we promise it’s nothing like the Halloween special you’re envisioning!
“Braces tightening” or braces adjustment appointments are just simply visits where your orthodontist will make the necessary adjustments to your braces to keep you on track to your beautiful, healthy smile!
But “how are braces tightened” and “”does getting braces tightened hurt?” Those are two of the most common questions from new braces patients and we’re happy to answer them.
Time to brace yourself for a discussion all about braces!
How do braces work?
The best way to understand the “why” behind braces adjustments is by understanding exactly how braces work.
Your brackets, archwires, and rubber bands all work in harmony by applying constant, gentle pressure on your teeth.
There’s a common misconception that your tooth roots are fixed in your jawbone, but that’s not the case! There’s so much more anatomy below the gumline than just your jawbones. And the part that goes through the most change during your orthodontic treatment is your alveolar bone, the bone that holds your tooth roots in place.
As your teeth begin to trail along into healthy alignment, your alveolar bone will break down and rebuild to continue its job in stabilizing your teeth. This is why it’s important to stick with healthy foods during orthodontic treatment – not just for the safety of your braces hardware, but also to give your body the nutrients it needs for quick and successful tooth movement.
While there’s no danger to your health if you miss your braces tightening appointment, if you don’t reschedule within the week, you could be extending your time in braces! Your braces and teeth will just stay as they are until adjusted by your orthodontist.
How do they tighten braces?
Now “braces tightening” is a residual term better used to describe ancient orthodontics, when early experts actually used steel wires in place of rubber bands. Think of tuning a guitar, but it’s your teeth instead! Sounds a little uncomfortable, eh?
You’ll be happy to know that braces hardware and the braces adjustment process has advanced tremendously since then!
Next, your orthodontist will assess your progress to see if your teeth are moving in the direction and angle as expected. Then they’ll adjust your archwires with the help of an orthodontic tool or replace them with new, thicker wires to take your teeth to the next stage in their journey!
How often do braces get tightened?
The average braces adjustment appointment happens every 4 to 6 weeks, but your orthodontist will detail your follow-up appointment range when your treatment plan is presented to you. This is because teeth move at different rates. Dr. Wiewiora and Dr. Dunn will always let you know at each appointment when you should come back in to see us.
Here’s a few signs that you may need a braces tightening:
- Your brackets feel loose
- You feel no extra pressure from your braces when you bite down
Does getting braces tightened hurt?
Now it’s time for the most commonly asked question in new patients – “does it hurt?”
While getting your braces adjustment shouldn’t hurt, you may feel some discomfort from the newly added pressure. Any discomfort should go away within a few days and to help provide relief, try these tips.
- Stick with softer foods the first few days after your appointment
- Do salt water rinses
- If a specific area is bothering you, apply some orthodontic wax
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol
If your discomfort persists or becomes severe, give us a call!
Still have questions about braces adjustments?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions at any time. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.