A dentist usually recommends braces to improve a patient's "orofacial" appearance. Through orthodontic treatment, problems like crooked or crowded teeth, overbites or underbites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints are corrected. If left untreated, these problems can result in tooth decay, gum disease, headaches and earaches, as well as speaking, biting or chewing problems.
The different types of things we place in your mouth are called "Appliances". "Braces" is a general name for specific Appliances such as bands, brackets, archwires, and ligatures (that hold the archwires to the bands and brackets). We will teach you the specific appliance's name after it is placed in your mouth.
Separators (sometimes called spacers) are round, elastic-like modules that are placed between the back teeth in order to create some space. This space will make it possible to fit the braces (i.e. bands) on the back teeth at the next appointment. The only thing that holds the separators in the mouth is the tightness between the teeth. Many times the separators will appear to be very loose and on the verge of falling out, but they fall out only infrequently.
Separators will probably make the teeth somewhat tender for a couple of days. This is normal and should be only temporary and only slightly uncomfortable. Everyone reacts a little differently, however, and each person will have a slightly different experience with his/her separators.
Separators can be dislodged with hard or sticky foods, so diet should be restricted somewhat to avoid problems. Also, they will catch food near the gum line, and oral hygiene should be improved in this area to avoid any gingival swelling. Dental floss will dislodge the separators but a toothbrush should be sufficient to maintain a clean area around the separators.
Attached to your braces, elastics (rubber bands) exert the proper force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth and fix your bite. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn all the time and changed at least 3 times/day (or more frequently if they tend to break). Any time missed in wearing your elastics will only make your treatment take longer, so remember these things:
- You are responsible for placing the elastics on your braces between appointments. Make sure to wear them as instructed. Remove them only when eating main meals and when brushing your teeth, gums and braces after meals. Then put fresh elastics back on immediately.
- Always carry a few elastics with you, so if one breaks you can replace it right away. If your supply is low, call the office and we will mail you an additional supply of elastics. If you forget to insert your elastics one day, don't double up the next day, just follow your regular instructions.
- Elastics become worn out when they lose their elasticity, they don't provide the proper pressure on your teeth and jaws. It is very important to change them as directed, even when they are not broken.
If your elastics break frequently, a wire or band loosens, or a hook breaks off - call our office immediately - don't wait until your next appointment. These problems need to be corrected as soon as possible.
Keep your appliance away from dogs or cats as they love to chew on them. Avoid storing them near any source of heat and do not boil your retainer to sterilize it. If needed, bring it to the office and we will be happy to disinfect it for you.
An additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken appliances.