During my time working with Vita Dental, I have realized that most of our dental patients with patients dread tightening visits to the orthodontists. I personally had some years back and didn’t find the visits as scary and dreadful as people make them look- I bet it’s because I had an idea of what to expect having have written thousands and thousands of articles on orthodontic treatmentAfter you get your braces put on, it goes without saying that you’ll need a series of recurring follow-up appointments to the orthodontists for your braces to get tightened. As we all know, braces work by applying a certain amount of pressure on teeth forcing them back into position. Over time, as the teeth are pushed into position, the braces lose the required tautness required to efficiently hold back the teeth and they therefore need to be tightened.
The number of times you will need to visit the dentist depends on the severity of your malocclusion. The average patient with braces visits the dentist at-least once every month but not every visit is meant for tightening. Some visits are meant to help the orthodontist or Vita dentist keep an eye on your teeth and check the progress. You will essentially be required to visit the dentist after every 2 or 3 months for tightening and again this depends on the severity of the dental defect you are suffering from. This tightening sessions are the most dreaded. So why are people so scared of tightening sessions? How is the whole process carried out? Is the fear worth it? Why is it perceived as painful? Here is a look at what happens when your braces are tightened and the results of the tightening;
What happens during the braces tightening session?
The scheduled orthodontic adjustment process is relatively simple and quick which takes no more than half an hour. First, the orthodontist will remove your ligatures with the help of special hooks and remove the rubber bands that hold each bracket to the arch wire. Then, they will also remove the arch wire. At this point, you’ll probably be instructed to brush and floss without the wire in. It is at this point that some people feel like the braces should not even come back into their mouths-it’s quite a refreshing feeling!
The orthodontist will examine how your teeth are progressing and take note of any defects that are persistent and are not responding positively to treatment. You may need a new arch wire, or additional equipment like power chains or elastic. Then, the arch wire is put back onto the brackets. The orthodontist may be required to change the arch-wire or retain the old one depending on how your teeth are at the time.
The orthodontist will also put on new ligatures. This are the things that cause the much dreaded discomfort and pressure to the teeth. Due to the new pressure the ligatures will be exerting on your teeth, they will feel so pressed. The first few adjustment visits will have some discomfort but subsequent ones will be seamless. So, does it hurt much? Should you be worried about the pain? Is there anything you can do to reduce the pains?
Having your braces adjusted can cause some mild pain and discomfort, since it puts pressure on your teeth. The pressure and mild pain that you will be experiencing will however go away in no time as your teeth move into a new position and the pressure sustained reduces significantly. As one of our chief dentists here at Katy Family Dentist Care commonly tells most of our patients, the pain and discomfort that most patients complain of is just imaginary and comes from brainwashing. If you come with an open mind, you will realize that the tightening is no that painful after all.
There are a few things that you can do before your appointment to reduce discomfort during the procedure:
- Remain calm. If you’re nervous or anxious, it could actually lead you to subjectively experience more pain. Listening to music with headphones in, practicing deep breathing, and other techniques can help you relax while your braces are tightened.
- Take an over the counter painkiller. You can take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to reduce the likelihood that you’ll feel significant discomfort.
- Eat a soft diet after the procedure. Soft foods are easier on your teeth for the 12-24 hours directly following your orthodontic adjustment.
- Use ice packs. An ice pack on your face can help reduce pain and swelling by numbing your teeth, gums, and jaw after the procedure. The pain and swelling if any, will go away after a few days.
Generally, the tightening process is not as painful. It actually is meant to help your teeth reposition themselves well. You should therefore not dare miss a session because you are scared of the session being too painful.