Braces are an orthodontic treatment used to correct abnormal bites, crowded or crooked teeth, or jaw and tooth alignment problems. While they are quite a common and popular treatment, a lot of misconceptions surround the use of braces. It can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction, so here we’ve debunked some of the most common myths about braces for you.
I’m too old to have braces
While braces are often prescribed for children aged between 8 and 14, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get braces at other times. Abnormal bites often become noticeable in the growing phase between the ages of 6 and 12, which is why children start orthodontic treatment soon after.
However, healthy teeth can be orthodontically treated at any age. More and more adults are electing to have braces to clear up their alignment issues. It just may take a little longer when you’re older, as the treatment tends to be complicated by gum disease or prior dental work.
But it’s perfectly doable. Just make sure you see an accredited orthodontist for your treatment.
Braces permanently straighten my teeth
While braces are one of the most effective ways to straighten your teeth, the effect is not entirely permanent. You’ll also need to wear a retainer after your orthodontic treatment is finished. If you fail to do this, your teeth will gradually start to drift back to their original positions. Wearing a retainer in the long term is just as important as the orthodontic treatment itself. This will ensure your smile stays looking good into the future.
Braces can be used on everyone
Actually, not everyone is a good candidate for braces. Braces are not recommended for people with severely damaged teeth, extensive gum disease, severe jaw problems or medical conditions, or difficulty keeping teeth clean.
Braces will hurt
While braces will be a little painful initially, they shouldn’t hurt all the time. They might be a little bit uncomfortable, but not so much that you notice them excessively.
While wearing braces was a painful process in the past, today’s modern advancements in dentistry mean that there is significantly less discomfort than there used to be. Braces nowadays work more effectively than ever by applying a gentle but constant force to move the teeth. This minimised the amount of discomfort you’ll feel – this light pressure won’t even be noticeable most of the time.
Braces have to be tight to work properly
Contrary to this popular belief, braces don’t have to be uncomfortably tight to be effective. In fact, braces that are too tight are bad for your teeth, and won’t fix your alignment issues any faster.
Braces start working as soon as I have them
While the treatment does begin to work as soon as the braces go on, you won’t notice any changes for awhile. Initial change can be imperceptible. However, you can rest assured that your alignment issues will be fully resolved by the time the braces come off. It’s just a matter of time and patience – don’t expect to see instant changes.
If you need braces, you need them on all your teeth
This is far from the truth. For more localised problems, such as one or two misaligned teeth, you won’t need a whole mouthful of braces. It’s entirely possible to have braces only on your lower or upper teeth, or even only on your front teeth.
If my wisdom teeth come in, they will mess up my newly aligned teeth
It’s quite common to worry about wisdom teeth coming in when you have braces. However, a good orthodontist will be able to tell you whether you have room for these extra teeth or not. Properly executed orthodontic treatment, together with a custom-made retainer, will not be affected when your wisdom teeth come through.
Braces take years to work
Many people have the impression that they’ll be wearing braces over the course of a few years. While this is true for some people, it’s not the case for everyone. Orthodontic treatment can range from a few months to three years – the actual time will depend on each individual’s situation. Simple cases may be resolved within the space of a few months, while more complex cases could take years.
Braces are a cosmetic treatment only
Far from it. While braces certainly have a cosmetic effect in creating a more attractive smile, they also result in a healthier mouth. If you don’t correct an abnormal bite or alignment problems, it can lead to future oral health problems such as:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Jaw problems
- Tooth loss
- Excessive wear to tooth enamel
- Affected speech
- Chewing problems
Straightening your teeth will give you more efficient use of them. There’s more to orthodontic treatment than meets the eye.
I won’t be able to eat a lot of foods once I have braces
Sure, you’ll have to be careful with some foods, but you can still enjoy most of your favourite foods with braces. A little extra preparation will be required for certain foods, such as apples or meat on the bone.
Avoid foods like popcorn, chewing gum, corn on the cob or very sticky foods. And keep in mind that too much sugar can lead to plaque build-up around your brackets that could stain or damage your teeth. Just be sensible and eat a healthy diet and you should be fine.
I won’t be able to play sport with braces
While it may seem risky to play sport – especially contact sports – with braces, it’s actually fine. As long as you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your braces, you should have no problems. Just don’t wear your retainer while playing sport, as removable appliances can be knocked out.
I won’t be able to play a musical instrument with braces
This is not true either. While mouth instruments might seem difficult to play while wearing braces, you should still be able to do it. There will be an adjustment period however, and you might have to spend a bit of time training your mouth.
You’ll have to be prepared to use more breath when you have braces. With a few extra hours of practice however, you should be playing your instrument with no trouble.
Braces will set off metal detectors
It’s extremely unlikely that your braces will set off any metal detector, so you don’t have to worry about this one. Modern-day braces are small and made from very light metals that won’t set off any alarms.