4 to 6 weeks, you go to your orthodontist to get your braces
"tightened" or "adjusted." Sounds awful,
doesn't it? Well, cast aside your visions of Medieval torture
devices. Nothing is really "tightened." It's really
is usually what happens during an orthodontic
orthodontic assistant removes your elastic ligatures (the
little rubber bands that hold each bracket to the arch
the arch wire is removed.
this point, you can brush and floss almost sans braces.
orthodontist may come over to examine your teeth's
progress. Depending on the situation, a new arch wire may
be needed. If you need anything new (such as power chains
or elastics), the orthodontist should tell you.
arch wire (new or previous) is put back onto your
brackets. New elastic ligatures are put on. If this is one
of the first times you're getting an adjustment, this may
hurt a little because of the pressure placed on the teeth.
Don't worry, in future months, it won't hurt anywhere near
as much! This is why they call it "tightening;"
the braces feel tighter when the new ligatures are put on
because of the renewed pressure on the teeth.
the arch wire pokes your cheek at all, tell your
orthodontist immediately! The arch wire should not
poke you! If it does, the orthodontist or assistant must
shorten the arch wire with clippers. Sometimes, the arch
wire does not poke you immediately, but suddenly starts
poking after one or two meals. This is good -- it means
your teeth have moved! See your orthodontist ASAP to get
the wire clipped. Otherwise, the arch wire will tear up
the inside of your cheek, which is very uncomfortable.
it! Do your teeth hurt? Take some pain reliever to help you
deal with it. The discomfort will probably last a few days,
then dissipate. You may need to eat only soft foods for a few
days. Protein shakes, such as the Atkins or Slim Fast shakes,
made ideal meal replacements if chewing even soft food is
uncomfortable. Within a week, most people an usually eat
normal food again. After a few months, adjustments won't hurt as
After you have had braces for
more than 6 months, your teeth get used to the extra pressure.
At this point, an adjustment might not hurt at all, but your
teeth usually feel sore for about a week afterwards. For some
people, the teeth don't feel sore again until the next
adjustment. But for others, the pain dissipates for a week or
two, and then a week before the next adjustment, the teeth are
sore again. Why is this?
The cell regeneration process
occurs after an adjustment. Your teeth are under force and
move and causes some cells (bone, tissue) to break down and
new cells to regenerate. After the regeneration happens the
teeth and supporting structures begin giving and moving again
and the cycle continues. This is why most orthodontists see
patients every 4-5 weeks. The cell regeneration process
typically takes about 3 weeks and that gives patients enough
time after an adjustment to be ready for another one.
Because today's wires move
teeth slowly over a long period of time, the whole cell
regeneration doesn't stop/go/stop/go as it used to with older
style wires, now it just moves your teeth continually.
Movement continues until the wire is fully back to the
original size and shape, at which time you are ready for a
stiffer and larger arch wire. (Thanks to ArchWired reader
Mary from Oregon for this last helpful piece of information,
which she got from her orthodontist!)