Having a good smile is a common goal for most people. A great smile enhances your dental health and overall confidence. However, many patients are unaware of underlying conditions requiring orthodontic treatment because they hardly visit their dentists. Moreover, if you want metal braces fixed, finding a well-experienced orthodontist is challenging.

A competent orthodontist provides a high-quality treatment that guarantees straight teeth by the end of the treatment. Hence, it is crucial to find an orthodontist who guarantees your wellness and a successful outcome, mainly because it is a significant investment in your dental health.

Before choosing an orthodontist, research thoroughly and pick a reputable one. At Washington Dental, we offer efficient dental services to patients seeking orthodontic treatment using metal braces. We provide accurate braces placement that gives you effective teeth alignment. We have acquired a wealth of experience handling teeth alignment problems and offering orthodontics solutions to numerous patients. We have several clinics in California, including Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita branches.

Types of Metal Braces

Metal braces come in several designs and modifications. Moreover, there have been developments in Orthodontics since the onset of teeth alignment treatments, paving the way for improved designs. You now have a range of metal braces to choose from depending on the specialist's recommendations or preferences. Nevertheless, the different methods all work in the same way to align your teeth by applying pressure in specific positions to place them into the required parts. The different types of braces include:

  1. Traditional Metal Braces

Choosing traditional metal braces is standard, as they are the pioneering form of teeth alignment treatment. Many Orthodontic patients decide on these kinds of metal braces based on the track record of recoveries available for reference. Subsequently, you are more likely to be confident in traditional metal braces over other types of Orthodontic treatment like Invisalign.

The braces comprise three different components that work together to align your teeth. The Orthodontic work base is the metal bracket, a small metallic piece made of stainless steel fixed on your tooth’s crown. The alignment is facilitated by an archwire that sits on the metal bracket. Since it is a flexible wire, made of stainless steel, the Orthodontist will adjust it by tightening or changing the entire archwire to place another, depending on the type of treatment plan you are on.

The final component is the elastics that hold the archwire inside the metal bracket. The Orthodontist winds the elastics onto the brackets after fixing the archwire, to ensure that when you are chewing or have other objects in your mouth, the teeth alignment is still progressing. Your Orthodontist will often give you the chance to choose the color of elastics you prefer on your braces to personalize your look for an enjoyable treatment process. Therefore, you can coordinate different colors every time you have an adjustment appointment to your liking.

While the traditional braces offer effective Orthodontic treatment, you will have to consider several factors. Firstly, the elastics fitted in the brackets may apply a lot of pressure on your teeth, especially during the first few days after installation or adjustments. Moreover, the elastics create some friction on the tooth, although you will not experience any adverse conditions. Overall, the traditional metal braces are a good option for you if you prefer standard Orthodontic treatment that delivers satisfactory results.

  1. Self-Ligating Metal Braces

Choosing the self-ligating braces is also a great option, primarily if you prefer smaller sized brackets that do not include elastics to hold the archwire on braces together. Self-ligating braces are an improved version of traditional braces. Their design comprises metal brackets that have clips on the anterior to open and shut. Thanks to these clips attached to the bracket, your Orthodontist only needs to open and snap them back when changing your archwire.

The improvements found in self-ligating braces make your treatment process more comfortable because you will have fewer adjustment appointments with your specialist. The use of metal clips in place of elastics means that you will be less prone to suffer from damages like snapped elastics. In return, you will worry less about scheduling a meeting every two weeks.

Additionally, the self-ligating design allows your Orthodontic to make adjustments that will align your teeth gradually for a more extended period without having to get a new archwire adjustment. The metal bracket designs apply gentle pressure on your teeth, which is also gradual enough to allow you enough time to get used to your braces before getting new adjustments. Subsequently, you can go about your daily life without worrying about missing dentist appointments, especially if your treatment plan is flexible.

Most patients who choose self-ligating braces also like them for their improved aesthetic. As discussed, the brackets are significantly smaller than those used in traditional braces. Using clips instead of elastics also maintains a monochromatic tone on the teeth, as the structure of the entire bracket is made of stainless steel. Thus, if you look for a less colorful look on your teeth, you may consider choosing the self-ligating metal braces.

  1. Lingual Braces

If you prefer less attention on your Orthodontic treatment option, you can also go for lingual braces. They consist of custom made brackets designed in the shape of your teeth that are then fit at the back of your teeth. The inverse placement of braces distinguishes lingual braces from the two other types, as they are not easily detected. However, the methods used in teeth alignment are similar to traditional and self-ligating. With an archwire, your Orthodontist can push the teeth into the desired position for a better alignment.

While lingual metal braces are appealing to many patients, it is essential to remember that they are significantly more costly than regular braces because of the customization that takes place before the brackets are placed on your teeth. The lingual braces are suitable for professionals in the acting field, wind instrument players, and athletes. Moreover, if you would like less attention to your dental treatment, the braces will do.

The Process of Metal Braces Placement

Every treatment procedure begins with a referral, whereby a medical professional identifies a problem in your dental alignment and refers you to a specialist. In this case, you may receive a referral from your dentist to an orthodontist who will conduct further checks to give a proper diagnosis. Commonly, you receive a referral after visiting your dentist for regular check-ups on your teeth.

However, there are some cases whereby a patient can identify a problem by himself or herself and decide to book an appointment directly with the Orthodontist to seek further clarification. Either way, the referral process leads you to a certified orthodontist who takes over your treatment.

After choosing a specialist to initiate the Orthodontic procedure, you will schedule a consultation session, whereby the Orthodontist will have a chance to make assessments on your oral structure. During the consultation, the doctor determines whether you are a suitable candidate to undergo teeth alignment using metal braces by analyzing your jaws and teeth' physical appearance.

Among the important sources of valuable information on your teeth alignment is X-Ray images. Not only do they show the internal jaw and dental structure, but they also reveal any teeth that are yet to break through the gums. Identifying such teeth is necessary to avoid aligning teeth and extending treatment because of the newly growing tooth. Typically, the Orthodontist will ask for an OPG image and a Lateral Cephalogram to study your teeth placement's front and side view. Thanks to such X-ray images, it becomes easier to identify the type of dental structure problem you face.

For example, suppose the OPG image shows that your upper jaw is significantly further from your lower one. In that case, the Orthodontist can diagnose the problem as an overbite and formulate specialized treatment to remedy it. Conversely, the images will also indicate whether there is sufficient room to push specific teeth into new positions before beginning with the process.

The specialist will also conduct a physical examination of your mouth shape and structure. Here, they will use regular observation skills to look at different tooth placements and identify possible problems. It is also common for the Orthodontist to measure the gap between your upper and lower jaw to determine whether you have an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. The doctor may also ask you to open and close your mouth as he/she checks for the teeth placement when you undertake each action. After making several observations, the obtained information will be added to the report used in creating a treatment plan.

On top of this, you will need to have teeth impressions taken using a specific mold used in dental procedures. The process begins with the mixing of powder with water to create the mold. Afterward, the Orthodontist or an assistant will place the mold on a mouthpiece inserted into your upper and lower jaw at a time. When your teeth leave their marks on the mold, the Orthodontist will let it dry, replicating your dental structure. The study models taken from the mold are beneficial for your doctor's use, as he/she relies on them to create the best placement option for the metal braces.

It also helps to take 3D images of your mouth, as the specialist handling your treatment will have an easier time establishing the proper positioning of your braces. Using technological developments, your Orthodontist can use the 3D images to create realistic models of your mouth to accurately predict and track treatment. For example, it is possible to manipulate the images to create a picture of the expected final result after undertaking Orthodontic treatment.

Once your Orthodontist obtains all the required information from the various tests and images you take during the consultation process, you are set to receive a treatment plan specially designed for you. It is necessary to go through the consultation procedure instead of getting information from friends or family who have had metal braces before, as each patient's case is different. Therefore, without a proper analysis, you may receive an ineffective strategy that prolongs your treatment period and may not bring about the best results you expected.

Once the Orthodontist completed the plan, you will be set to undergo several procedures. For example, if you have a problem with teeth crowding, there will be a need for teeth extraction to create adequate space for aligning teeth in new positions. The extraction process is not long, especially if you only need to have one or two teeth pulled out. It will take about one session to complete the extractions under local anesthesia for such necessary pre-treatment procedures. You can also have your braces fit on the same day if you are ready for the complete treatment.

Conversely, some patients need to undergo minor dental surgery to extract teeth if they have not yet emerged from the gum. Therefore, you may not have your metal braces fixed on the same day, as you will need some time to recover from the invasive teeth extraction. You will also need adequate recovery time after having up to six teeth extracted.

Additional pre-treatment procedures may involve jawbone surgery to remove conditions like a dental abscess that could cause your treatment complications if not adequately managed. While such methods are necessary, you will not have to face them if the Orthodontist clears you for direct placement of the metal braces.

The Placement Procedure

Once you are ready to have your metal braces set, you will come in for an appointment that lasts between thirty minutes to an hour. We understand how nerve-wracking having braces fitted may be for you, especially if you do not know what to expect. However, it is a painless process that only involves adhering to your teeth' metal brackets and fixing the archwire to begin the alignment process.

Once you arrive at the clinic, you will have your teeth cleaned up to remove any plaque and microbes that may inhibit the effective placement of metal brackets. The cleaning procedure should not take long, as the dental assistants will use a few tools to remove any stubborn plaque and other particles from your teeth.

The cleaning of your teeth then paves the way for smothering of the tooth surface to ensure that the bracket holds in a firm position. The Orthodontist uses a small spinning device that shaves the tooth slightly for smooth surface creation. While the machine may be noisy in the dental room, there is nothing to worry about, as the smoothing process is painless. The only sensation you will have is vibration and little pressure as the machine smooths out your tooth crown.

After a rinse, the tooth is then dried and ready for the application of a cement adhesive. The cement mixture will be on the back of the bracket that is then placed accurately on your tooth. Since the combination is semi-viscous, it is necessary to let it dry out for firm support. The Orthodontist will use a particular UV light emitter to dry the cement holding the bracket quicker.

When the specialist confirms that the bracket is firmly in place, he/ she can then repeat the placement procedure on each tooth. On average, it may take between thirty to forty minutes to have all your brackets fixed. Despite this, you do not need to worry about your Orthodontist taking a longer or shorter time, as he/she may have to include additional precautions.

If all the brackets stick to your teeth as required, the archwire can then pass through them to secure the braces in place. The placement of an archwire is also relatively short, as the Orthodontist only needs to ensure that each bracket holds the archwire in the correct position. Since the wire comes in a larger measurement than required, your Orthodontist will bend it to create two equal lengths for the upper and lower jaw.

Then, after placing the necessary size inside each bracket, he/she will cut off the remainder using modified pliers. Cutting the extra pieces of stainless steel archwire should be done carefully to prevent you from swallowing the small pieces. Hence, the Orthodontist will apply extreme caution and skill to make sure that he/she does not hurt your mouth's inner parts. Moreover, the pliers used to cut the extra archwire off has a small compartment to hold the cut pieces. As a result, it is difficult for you to swallow small wire pieces accidentally.

The final process in installing your metal braces involves securing the elastics or self-ligating clips, depending on the type of metal braces you choose. If you have traditional braces installed, the Orthodontist will use elastics to wind around the bracket structures to secure the archwire's positioning. Alternatively, if you used self-ligating braces, the Orthodontist will shut the clips which hold the wire in place for effective teeth alignment. If all components are placed correctly, there will be no need to come in for readjustment or replacement of broken brackets and wires, unless several external factors cause such effects.

Scheduling Adjustment Appointments

The Orthodontist in charge of creating your treatment plan should give you comprehensive information on the expected goals at each period before an adjustment to help you understand why you need to come in for the appointments promptly. A failure to keep up with set adjustment appointments will prolong the treatment time, as your teeth do not receive the rightful pressure for alignment. In some cases, putting off an adjustment session may cause your teeth to revert into previous positions, which may lead to incurring additional costs for readjustment of metal brackets and the archwire.

Therefore, we recommend following through with appointment schedules set by your doctor, as he/she works with specific goals in mind for effective teeth alignment. On average, you can expect to see your Orthodontist every two weeks, especially if you have traditional metal braces on. For patients with self-ligating and lingual braces, you can go for up to a month before making another adjustment. It is important to remember that the timeframes are different for each patient, and are therefore adjustable to promote proper treatment.

Aftercare Tips For Your Metal Braces

When you finally get your braces fixed, you may experience different challenges during the first few days after installation. Most patients report a feeling of extreme pressure on the teeth that makes them sensitive to any contact, including biting. Consequently, you will need to stick to an aftercare routine that helps you adjust and maintain proper care for your braces. Some tips include:

Avoid Hard Foods

The pressure applied to your teeth during alignment will increase tooth sensitivity, meaning that you may be susceptible to pain and irritation after biting hard foods. Moreover, crunchy and sticky foods are problematic to your brackets because they cause them to break off easily or stain from sticky gum. Thus, it is essential to avoid such foods for a better lifestyle with braces on.

Brush Your Teeth Thoroughly

Before braces placement, you may be used to brushing your teeth as a routine, without paying attention to getting all food particles out of your mouth. However, you need to apply extra precaution when brushing your teeth to avoid creating a conducive environment for disease-causing microbes. We recommend brushing your teeth after every meal to avoid leaving small particles in your brackets. You can also use interdental brushes to scrub around the brackets for enhanced dental hygiene.

On top of this, you may use these special brushes as a substitute for dental floss that may give you a hard time. Alternatively, you can water floss your teeth to avoid the challenging use of regular dental floss between the archwire and brackets.

Find an Orthodontist Near Me

Fixing your teeth when looking to enhance your smile and resolve an ongoing dental problem is a worthy investment. Orthodontic treatment should be handled with accuracy and care, as it should last for the rest of your life. Therefore, it is crucial to find a reliable professional to install metal braces for teeth alignment. At Washington Dental, we have the best orthodontists serving the Los Angeles, Carson, Lomita, and Torrance area. Contact us today for more information on metal braces and their installation.