Orthodontists often treat people who need braces. An orthodontist is a dentist with extra education and training in alignment of the teeth, jaw, and facial structure. 

Other dental providers who treat patients needing braces include:

  • General dentists prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions of the teeth, gums, mouth, and associated structures of the jaw and face.
  • Pediatric dentists specialize in caring for the dental needs of children and teens.

How are procedures for braces performed?

Treatment with braces involves several different procedures that are performed in a dental clinic or office. The length of time needed for treatment varies from person to person. The number and type of procedures you need depends on various factors. These include the type of braces, the positioning of your teeth, and how quickly your treatment progresses.

The braces process generally includes a combination of these steps:

Your orthodontist will take images of your teeth in order to get a thorough visualization of their position. These images can include X-rays, molded impressions of your teeth, and photographs. Your orthodontist will then study the images of your teeth and determine the number and positions of the brackets. 

Your orthodontist will apply your braces. Your orthodontist will first polish your teeth and apply different solutions that condition and prime your teeth. Your orthodontist then attaches the braces brackets to your teeth with cement. Your orthodontist may use a special light to help the cement dry. Then he or she will attach the archwires to the brackets.

Your orthodontist will adjust your braces every few weeks. Your orthodontist will examine your teeth’s positioning and determine which adjustments or changes in treatment are needed. These can include adding elastic bands, headgear, and attaching new archwires. 

Your orthodontist will remove your braces after determining that your treatment is complete. Your orthodontist will remove the archwires and use a tool to squeeze the base of each bracket gently. This releases the bracket from your tooth, but leaves the cement. Your orthodontist will use a tool to remove the bracket cement from your teeth.

Your orthodontist will make a retainer, a device that you wear to prevent shifting of teeth after removing braces.  

Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation is important to you and your care team. After your braces are applied, the inside of your mouth may feel tender and a little chafed as your skin adjusts to the feeling of the brackets and wires. 

Your teeth, gums, and jaw may also feel sore for a few days after your first get braces. This will probably also be true after your orthodontist adjusts your braces. This is because the braces and archwires apply pressure so that the teeth may move into better positions. 

Take a few long, deep breaths to help you relax through any soreness. Your orthodontist may recommend over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help relieve pain. Tell your orthodontist if any discomfort does not pass a few days after you received braces or adjustments to them. This may indicate the development of a complication.

What are the risks and potential complications of braces? 

Any dental procedure involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the braces procedures or throughout your recovery. 

Risks and potential complications of braces include:

  • Allergic reaction to the braces materials 
  • Damage to the braces
  • Increased risk of cavities caused by more difficulty cleaning teeth with braces
  • Injury to the mouth
  • Loosened teeth caused by pressure of braces on teeth and their roots
  • Mouth sores and ulcers caused by braces brackets and wires rubbing against the insides of the mouth
  • Buildup of plaque, which can lead to gum disease. This is due to food getting caught in braces or by challenges with maintaining good oral hygiene while braces are installed on teeth
  • Root resorption, resulting in shorter root length