Braces: Types, What to Expect, How They Work & Care (Kids + Adults)

Finding out that you need braces can mean a steep learning curve. Most people think they know the basics of braces, but until you’ve sat in the dentist’s chair having your braces adjusted, or tried to brush your teeth while wearing braces for the first time, there’s a lot you still need to learn.

If you’re considering braces and want to know what to expect, read on to learn more about the types of braces available, how they work and what you can expect from treatment.

Types of braces

There are two main types of braces, and then multiple different brands within each category. You will likely be given a choice between fixed and removable aligners.

Fixed aligners

  • Traditional metal braces with metal brackets and wires

  • Ceramic brackets with clear wires for a more discreet treatment

  • Lingual braces where the brackets and wires are attached to the back of the teeth

Removable aligners

  • The most popular type of removable aligner is Invisalign. This treatment plan uses a series of clear plastic aligners to gradually align the teeth.

  • Other removable aligners include systems like the Inman Aligner which uses a special spring-loaded apparatus to straighten the teeth.

How braces work

How braces work

It doesn’t matter which aligner system you choose, they all work in the same way. The teeth are held in place by ligaments that fix the tooth in sockets in the jaw bone. The teeth will naturally fall into the easiest alignment pattern, and this isn’t always perfectly straight.

Overcrowding or misalignments in your jaw bone can lead to malocclusion. Braces work by applying gradual pressure to the teeth to move them into the correct alignment and then keep them there with a retainer.

If the teeth are moved too quickly, this would be very painful and the ligaments wouldn’t have time to adjust to the new alignment. By moving them slowly – usually over a period of 6 months to 2 years – the ligaments will adapt to the new positioning and the teeth will not become loose.

What to expect during treatment

What to expect during treatment

The first thing to remember about orthodontics is that this is always a long-term treatment plan. You might need to make some small changes to your daily routine to accommodate your braces. These are the most important things to remember about your treatment:

  • You may need to adjust your diet while you are going through treatment. For removable aligners, this simply means that you’ll have to take them out when you eat, so this could mean you cut down on snacking between meals. With fixed aligners, some foods that could damage your braces or get stuck will need to be avoided entirely.

  • Brushing your teeth might be more complex when you have braces so you should allow extra time. You may need to use a special brush to clean the wires and brackets carefully. With removable aligners, you’ll need to clean your aligners twice a day to prevent stains and smells.

  • Orthodontic treatment can come with some discomfort. This is typically very mild and will be experienced the most during a braces adjustment, or when you are switching to a new aligner in your case. Over the counter pain medication should be enough to manage the discomfort.

  • Braces could rub against your cheeks and tongue and this could be uncomfortable. With fixed braces, you can use orthodontic wax to cover any exposed wires or brackets to make it more comfortable. Removable aligners can be trimmed by your dentist to make them more comfortable.

Caring for your braces

Caring for your braces

It’s essential to care for your braces properly throughout treatment. Your teeth could be at risk of decay if you fail to care for your braces correctly.

For fixed braces, you will brush twice a day using a special brush that will help you to clean the wires and brackets. An electric toothbrush will also be effective for properly cleaning your teeth.

With removable aligners, you will clean the aligner while you brush your teeth. Orthodontic cleaning tabs are highly effective for killing bacteria and preventing staining. You will also need to brush your teeth twice a day as normal.

Orthodontic patients will typically rinse their teeth after meals to help prevent a buildup of food on their braces.

Map of Benfleet Dental Centre

Visit the practice

Benfleet Dental Centre

8 Benfleet Road, Benfleet. SS7 1QB

Opening times

Monday08:00 - 17:00
Tuesday08:00 - 18:30
Wednesday08:00 - 17:00
Thursday08:00 - 17:00
Friday08:00 - 17:00
Saturday09:00 - 14:00*
*By appointment only