How to Prepare for Getting Braces
Getting Ready for Braces
It's a rite of passage for many American teenagers--getting braces. This means years of metal hooks, rubber bands, and hoping there's not something stuck in your teeth. For most, it also means periods of mild discomfort and self-consciousness. Sounds awful, right? Actually, it's not that bad--and this opinion is coming from a girl who wore braces for four years in high school and is about to get them again.
Often, braces are used not only to improve the physical appearance of a smile, but to maintain the long-term health of your gums, teeth, and jaw. Misaligned teeth and bites can contribute to everything from gingivitis to TMJ. According to the American Association of orthodonists, up to 80 percent of teens are wearing or will be wearing braces--along with over 1 million adults. So no matter your age, you're not alone! Keep reading to find out how to prepare for getting braces.
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How to Physically Prepare for Getting Braces
Braces are inevitably uncomfortable, both when you first have them attached to your teeth and every time the orthodontist "tightens" the wires (for the uninitiated to braces, this means adjusting the wire by clipping it smaller to bring the teeth in, closer together, etc.). This results in soreness of the teeth, and can cause irritation on your lips and tongue before they toughen a little against the rubbing of the foreign metal in your mouth.
With that in mind, how can you physically prepare for getting braces?
- Know going into the process that braces aren't going to be a walk in the park--if you're aware there will be discomfort, you'll be better able to deal with it when it happens.
- Take a painreliever about an hour before your appointment, and then continue for the next day (sticking to the prescribed dose).
- Have a dental cleaning before your braces are attached to your teeth--you'll want to keep your teeth as clean and healthy as possible during this process, so getting all the plaque and build-up removed first is a great idea.
- Stock up on soft or liquid foods--for the first few days after you get braces or after your braces are tightened, you won't be biting into foods or chewing anything that takes more than minimal effort. Consider soups, mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.
- Consider buying a waterpik--this makes cleaning food out of your braces much easier when the discomfort of a tightening makes it too hard to brush your teeth thoroughly. Plus, the water feels soothing on sore gums.
If you're prepared physically for getting braces, the process will be much easier! I'd even recommend eating all your favorite sticky, chewy, or crunchy foods a few days before you first get your braces, because you likely won't get them again until the braces are removed.
How to Prepare Mentally for Getting Braces
One of the biggest obstacles to getting braces, for many, is not the physical discomfort, but the self-consciousness the wearer may feel. Braces are traditionally viewed as geeky and awkward, right? But thinking back to the statistics, up to 80 percent of teens have or will wear them--so that geeky/awkward stereotype no longer holds true. The key to mentally preparing for getting braces is to change your mindset to a more positive one. Here's how:
- Try to see braces not as trauma, but as a temporary state that will benefit the beauty of your smile and your overall mouth health.
- Focus less on the metal in your mouth and more on other features you love--your eyes, your curves, etc. Chances are, people are paying more attention to those parts of you than to the brackets on your teeth anyway.
- For teens, look around and see how many of your classmates have braces--they feel just like you do, and they're not giving a second thought to your metallic smile.
- For adults, realize that co-workers and new acquaintances aren't judging you for that smile--they're probably admiring you for making a decision outside of the box and doing something that benefits you despite the discomfort.
- Every time you see a really perfect, beautiful smile, stop and think to yourself--I bet that person had braces, too.
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