beginning treatment

Is there anything that needs to be done before my child gets braces?

Before orthodontic treatment begins, be sure to take your child to your family dentist for a cleaning and check-up. These visits should continue at least every six months for the duration of treatment, or more often, if recommended.

If your child normally must “pre-medicate” (take an antibiotic) before dental visits, make sure to notify your orthodontist, who will advise you if your child needs to pre-medicate before the appointment to place braces. Also, let your orthodontist know of any allergies, especially any allergies to metals including nickel.

Will my child need spacers to get braces?

About a week before braces are applied, the orthodontist may insert “spacers” between back molars. These create space between the teeth for bands that go around the back molars. Do not be alarmed if the spacers fall out before braces go on. It simply means teeth have moved and there is enough space for the molar bands.

What happens the day my child starts treatment – do we need to do anything special to prepare?

The day your child gets his/her braces, he/she should eat as usual. Teeth must be clean, so have your child brush and floss thoroughly after eating.

Some orthodontists may prescribe a pill to take about an hour before the appointment is scheduled to begin. The pill temporarily curbs production of saliva, which will make the application of braces go faster.

How are braces applied?

A retractor will be placed in the patient’s mouth to keep the mouth open comfortably. This will also help to keep the mouth as dry as possible.

Next, so that brackets bond to the tooth enamel, the tooth surface will be etched with a mild solution to prepare the teeth for attaching braces. After a few seconds, the tooth will be rinsed. Then, a special adhesive will go on each tooth, and the bracket will be added on top of the adhesive. Excess adhesive will be removed, and the rest will be “cured” with a special light.

After all of the brackets have been placed and the adhesive has been cured, the orthodontic wire will be threaded through the slots in the brackets. Depending on the type of braces your child is getting, the wire can be held to the tooth using a clip that is built into the bracket (“self-ligating” braces), or by a series of a tiny rubber bands called “ligatures.” Patients often enjoy choosing the color of their ligatures, and may opt for seasonal colors or the colors of their favorite sports team. Some patients prefer to be more inconspicuous, and may opt for clear or lightly-colored ligatures.

At the end of the appointment, a team member will explain to your child how to brush and floss with braces, review what foods to avoid (hard, sticky and chewy) so braces are not broken, and what to do if your child has any difficulties with his/her braces. This is a great time to ask any questions about the care of your new braces.

For the duration of treatment, make sure your child limits his/her intake of sugary drinks to avoid decalcification (white marks on the teeth).

How long does it take?

Expect the process of getting braces applied to take approximately 90-120 minutes.

Will getting braces hurt?

No. Getting braces applied does not hurt.

Will you use needles?


Will my child be able to eat after braces are applied?

Yes. At first, you may want to offer your child foods that require little or no chewing such as soup, pudding, mashed potatoes, applesauce, ice cream, etc. As your child becomes more accustomed to his/her braces, chewing will become easier.

How will my child’s mouth feel after getting braces?

Expect some discomfort for the first few days. This is temporary and can be relieved by rinsing with warm saltwater (1 tsp. salt to 8 oz. of warm water), or by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.  Cold soft foods such as ice cream and pudding are helpful as well.

Will my child be able to go to school the day braces are applied and/or take part in typical daily activities?

Yes, most children are able to go to school and take part in typical daily activities the day they get their braces. If your child plays organized or recreational sports, talk to your orthodontist for a recommendation on the type of mouth guard your child should wear to protect his/her teeth, braces and mouth.