What's it like to have braces?

I have been having some bite alignment issues with my teeth and along with some spacing issues, I have consulted with my dentist and with an orthodontist and I am going to be getting braces, top and bottom, to correct these issues. I considered the invisalign treatment, but I figured I would be lazy about putting the tray on every day, so it’s better just to have the treatment glued to my teeth, that way I cannot forget to wear it.

I am scheduled to get the braces applied (installed?) on December 17th for a 9-12 month treatment followed by 1 year in a retainer. I am a little nervous as what to expect. I know they will go over all the do’s and don’ts for food and how to take care of them and so forth, but I want to be “prepared” for it.

How “painful” are braces really going to be?

What foods should I go out and eat now that I won’t be able to later? I know gum, caramel and nuts are out, but what about toast, taco chips or steak?

Should I thoroughly enjoy regular flossing while I can?

Anything else I might not have thought of? Any advice?

You’ll probably get the braces adjusted once a month or so.

For a few days after every adjustment, your teeth will be quite sore, especially when chewing. Plan to eat a lot of yogurt and soup after the adjustments.

This was pretty much the worst part of braces. It’s not horrible, but it is unpleasant. The only other real pain I had was when the metal bits would rub against the inside of my cheek.

I didn’t really pay much heed to “forbidden” foods - after all, you don’t chew with the braces, you chew with the teeth. I would avoid gum just because it would be a pain if it got tangled up in the metalwork.

One time, the dentist pulled so hard when “adjusting” the braces that she pulled them off my teeth! That was fun.

Braces aren’t really that bad, all things considering. I had them for almost four years (“rearranged” my teeth on my own when I was four and smacked my face into a metal bar). But it wasn’t terrible.

A few weeks ago, JustThinkin made caramel apples. They were huge, wonderful, and a whole lot tougher to eat than normal.

The next day, I woke up to a familiar sensation - I could have sworn that the braces I had 30 some years ago had just been tightened.

The worst part was every few weeks when the braces were adjusted, when every tooth and your whole face just plain HURTS. It lasted for a couple of days, and then it started getting better. Just in time to do it again.

I missed biting into apples and carrots (you’ll need to cut them) and chewy candy. Stock up on squishy things. I remember a WaterPik being my good friend - brushing hurt.

I’ve had braces twice in my life, for different problems. The good news is that cemented-on, clear-bracket braces are a lot better than the old ones. You will still go through a bunch of pain on a semi-regular basis, but it is manageable with copious applications of ethanol. Toast, taco chips and steak are all edible with braces. What you will have to avoid are sticky, gummy and very hard items. No more crunching the ice in your drink, young lady! They will give you a starter kit of useful items like wax, which you can use to cushion the brackets while your cheeks get used to them. You will have to learn a completely different way of brushing, but that’s easy, because your old way will be impossible.

Otherwise, it’s completely worth it. Value your new smile, and be thankful you don’t get called “Tin Grin” anymore.

MilliCal is a new brace-wearer.

1.) They don’t hurt.

2.) When they put them in, your mouth has to stay open a long time, and you dry out, Drink a lot of water.

3.) Other foods you can’t eat:

Nacho Chips (for a few days afterwards).

And the feel of food is different.

You can eat toast and steak. And Peanut Butter.

4.) You can floss, but you have to use a floss threader.

You get to choose the color of your rubber bands, which is pretty cool.
Sometimes they have to put in Spacers between the teeth, and that can hurt for a couple of days.

I’ve had mine on since February. My husband had his put on a couple of months later.

My experiences so far -

I had a really bad head cold when I had mine applied, so I was pretty miserable during that session and after. It definitely would not have been as terrible if I wasn’t already feeling so shitty and achy. That appointment was probably about an hour and a half long, but I think the actual gluing of the brackets was about half an hour or so.

Once they were on, my mouth and teeth didn’t really hurt that day. They just obviously felt bound, constricted, tight. I felt a little claustrophobic.

The next 2 days they hurt. Really, really achy. Like someone had somehow kicked me in the teeth in my sleep without my knowing it until I woke up and felt like…someone had kicked me in the teeth.

But I got used to them, and so did my husband, and so will you.

We go in for adjustments every 5 weeks or so (I have one tomorrow, he has one Friday.) My teeth will ache the day of and after an adjustment, but Advil helps, and I just eat soft foods for a couple of days.
Advil helps me A LOT. I keep some handy at all times now.

Tough and chewy foods are the ones I really need to stay away from - no beef jerky, no tootsie rolls or anything like that. Cold helps with the pain after an adjustment. I didn’t even want to THINK about eating an apple or corn on the cob or a carrot or anything crunchy or even remotely hard after getting them on put on, and the same holds true for after adjustments.

Both my husband and I each have one of these WaterPiks and I don’t know if I’d be able to stand flossing without it. Buy one now.

Wax helps when something is rubbing the wrong way against your cheeks.

I’m glad I’m having this done, and I’ll be even more glad once they are off, and I am so thankful my husband decided to do this with me so I can whine a little and at least get some sympathy, but I have to say, if I’d known what a pain in the ass they’d be, I would have shelled out the extra cash for Invisalign. I’ve got several co-workers with braces, or who have had braces recently, and one of them went the Invisalign route. She’s almost done, and with almost none of the stuff I hate about having them on.

The only other thing I can think of is, if you’re getting brackets that will require colored bands over them (I have them, my husband does not, and his brackets are slightly smaller than mine), avoid the clear bands, or white or yellow. They’ll stain and end up looking terrible. I didn’t have to find this out the hard way, thankfully. The techs at the office warned me away from them.

Getting the brackets put on will cut into your cheeks and tongue pretty badly for a week or two at first, but as someone else mentioned they’ll give you wax to put over the sharp bits. For me, the first adjustment was extremely painful for a few days (it probably won’t hurt as they’re being adjusted, but you’ll feel it a few hours later) and the pain got less and less as my teeth loosened with each adjustment. Eventually there was basically no pain at all after an adjustment, and what pain there was was pretty well managed with Tylenol or Advil.

I was both extremely stupid and extremely lucky, as I ate everything I wasn’t supposed to (whole carrots and apples, chewy candy, etc.) and never had anything break, although I had one band loosen a few times and have to be re-cemented. I do know people whose brackets snapped off after one bite of something crunchy, so don’t follow my example. Brush your teeth after every meal (something I also didn’t do, but it’s really a good idea) and make sure you get in behind the back brackets since a lot of crap can get stuck in there. Floss threaders are definitely essential, but it’s not really hard to floss with braces.

I wore my retainer for maybe 6 or 8 months at all times (except meals) then graduated to wearing it only at night, then only on weekend nights. I eventually stopped wearing it at all after 2 years, maybe a bit less. The first time I wore my retainer, it hurt as bad as the first braces adjustment but that pain gets less too as your teeth tighten back up. Some people have to keep wearing their retainer for several years after getting their braces off, but I was lucky in that my teeth pretty much stopped moving and I don’t need to have them held in place anymore.

Anyway, good luck and enjoy your new mouth!

ETA: Oh, and I agree with psycat90, white and yellow bands are definitely not the way to go. Yellow looks like your teeth are really yellow from far away, and white just highlights how non-white your teeth are. I liked coordinating with whatever holiday was near, but IIRC there are clear bands if you don’t want to call attention to your braces.

I had braces for three years and then a retainer for another three years before they put the permanent hardware in. Why, yes, I do have supremely awful teeth–genetically.

The appointment to put on my braces took three hours, for most of which my mouth had to be open, and packed with cotton so that my lips didn’t touch my teeth. Let’s see…I remember it as being very painful, especially after adjustments. The brackets cut into my cheeks a lot, especially in the back. The wax helps some, but the insides of my cheeks were torn up and are still scared. I think the worst part of it was when I had to have rubber bands attached to my top and bottom teeth. I was absolutely forbidden from flossing and had to brush my teeth after everything I ate. I was told to brush my teeth if I only ate a cracker. I did chew gum, even though I wasn’t supposed to. As long as it was sugar free, it wasn’t a problem. (I learned that really fast.)

Good luck!

I’ve had braces twice as an adult and my experience was pretty much the same as psycat90’s.

Make sure you ask for a couple of things of wax from the dentist, and also get yourself some Anbesol for when you get a sore on the inside of your mouth. That stuff is priceless.

Use an anti-inflamatory like ibuprofen or Aleve to alleviate (ha!) some of the pain on those tough days, especially the first day.

If you have to have rubberbands (the kind that connect the braces not the kind that stay on there permanently) it might take a while to learn how to get the damn things in. You might end up with tiny rubberbands all over your house. It will be a pain in the butt for a while to work with them because you have to remove them when you eat and then, ideally, you want to be able to pop fresh ones in right afterwards without having to stand in front of a mirror for 20 minutes. I liken working with rubberbands to working with contacts for the first time. Frustrating and then eventually it’s second nature.

The food I stayed away from the most was whole apples. Everything else, after the initial pain, seemed fine.

I’ve had 'em for the past 11 months. As everyone else has said it hurts at first, but you get used to it. Dental wax is definitely your friend. I use a GUM brand small brush for flossing and it works wonders. It’s much easier to fit the small brush head in places that a regular toothbrush or floss can’t reach.

What I wish someone had told me: be sure to brush your gums really well, so they don’t recede.

The braces I’m getting are the Inovation clear bracket braces. No bands!! They don’t look like they will be all that pokey.

I was actually chewing an ice cube when I read this. It will be a hard habit to break. Or maybe if I break my braces doing it, it will teach me a lesson.

Psycat, my husband had braces his freshman through senior year of high school, so I know I will get some sympathy there. Some sympathy, but probably not that much. His braces were absolutely necessary. Mine are about 50/50 necessary/cosmetic.

I already buy Advil in the giant COSTCO size bottles, so I’m good on that. Anbesol, I can pick up the next time I’m at Target. I have never seen dental wax- so if I need it, hopefully they will give it to me at the orthodontist. But what in the world is a floss pick?? I buy these little babies to help with flossing. Are floss picks the same sort of thing?

dangermom, thanks for the tip on making sure I brush the gums well too. I am already slightly neurotic about brushing my teeth, but it’s good to be reminded. (I have a sonicare toothbrush and they gave me one today at the orthodontist. Now I have one I can keep at my office too.)

It’s good to know I won’t have to spend a year craving taco chips or steak while eating pudding and soup. The chewy candy I can take or leave, but I think the gum chewing is going to be the hardest “food” to give up. Maybe I’ll have to find some sugar free hard candies to suck on in place of gum.

A floss threader is a loop of stiff cord that you stick the piece of floss through to guide it. Because it’s stiffer than a piece of floss, you can more easily get it behind the wires and floss up into your gums. Here’s a picture. Your orthodontist will probably give you some, along with some wax too.

I see… that makes sense now. I was trying to google “floss pick” not “floss threader”.

I had braces for several of my pre-teen and teenage years.

You actually can eat all those chewy foods if you really want to, you just have to be careful and pay attention, and eat small pieces. You can’t casually chew gum anymore, but once you get used to where things are in your mouth, you can eat caramel (slowly). What you can’t do is take a big bite out of a caramel apple, or even a non-caramel apple.

Randomly getting hit in the face by a basketball, for example, will hurt a lot more.

The thing I remember most about braces is how strange my teeth felt the day I got them off. They were so smooth. But, then, I wore them for several years. In 9-12 months, you might not get used to the braces as much as I did.

I wore braces for three years as a teen. By the time I got the braces off I had taken enough asprin to build up a tolerance to it so it no longer worked for me.

They hurt. Food gets stuck in them. You can no longer eat lovely things like carmel and popcorn. They look weird. But then they come off and you have pretty teeth for the first time in your life and it’s all worth it.

Reconsider the option of plates. They feel odd the first few days but after that you forget they’re there. And in an emergency you can remove them.

With wired braces you need to be very particular about brushing your teeth. You’ll find it helps to swill with a carbonated drink like Coke - afterwards swill with water to wash the sugar off.

My orthodontist told my mother not to baby me and give me soft foods when I got mine put on. He said I should just eat regularly. My orthodontist was an idiot, but fortunately my mom was not. She cooked mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs for a couple of days. I ate soft food for a day or so after the first few adjustments, but otherwise ate whatever I wanted. There is absolutely no way I could have eaten normally when I first got the braces, though. It hurt a lot.

My orthodontist also yelled at me regularly for failing to get my teeth clean, but never bothered to tell me about threaders. In fact, I didn’t even know they existed until about 10 years later when I went to a new dentist and the hygenist used one to get around the horizontal bar I still have on my lower teeth.

That’s something else they didn’t warn me about–metal in my mouth that isn’t intended to ever come out. My orthodontist called it a retainer, and I assumed it would come off when the orthodontist told me to stop wearing my upper retainer, but it’s still here 15 years later. It’s behind my teeth, so no one sees it, but it’s a pain to clean around.

One last thing that no one else has mentioned–the way you eat may change. Biting into food isn’t very fun with braces. It’s not that it hurts, but food, especially bread, gets caught in them. Whenever I see someone tearing their sandwich or eating a hamburger with a knife and fork, I assume they’ve had some dental work.

My advice is to start carrying your toothbrush with you. Your mouth will feel gross after you eat.

Chicken is a pain to eat with braces. The strings of the meat get caught up in the dental work. And corn on the cob is right out.

The braces will be painfull for a day or so - it feels kinda like a combination of having a bruise and a toothache, if you can imagine that. It’s not very painful, more like a constant irritant - you should be able to function normally, maybe sublement with mild painkiller if you have any (this is not the time to be manly for the heck of it).

Bear in mind, I wore braces (and other, more invasive stuff) from age 6 to age 14 - my threshold for what is “very painful” when it comes to dental correction may have shiftet somewhat.

The process of getting them (and adjusting them) can be icky, and may involve a bit of pain as well. Grin (pun intended) an bear it, I guess.

The bottom line is, you get used to them. A week or two in, you won’t think about it anymore.

Oh, one more bit of advice: get a dentist you are absolutely comfortable with and 100% trust - don’t settle for less.

And those beatifull, finished, straight teeth? SO worth it. Even if they cost you 8 years instead of the single year you’ll be doing it.

How old are you, BTW?