Is looking at your crooked and crowded teeth in the mirror every morning damaging your self-esteem? Have you considered wearing braces to achieve a more desirable smile but are overthinking the side effects of braces, like do braces weaken teeth? Then you are in the right place. This article will shed light on all that braces can do for your teeth.
How Do Braces Work?
Before jumping into the adverse effects of braces on teeth, let us understand how braces work. Braces, whether traditional or clear, metallic or ceramic, work by exerting sufficient force on your teeth to move them into the desired position.
Have you ever wondered how braces can move something as hard as a tooth embedded in the bones of your jaw? Tissues surrounding your teeth hold them in place, and weakening these tissues is the only way tooth movement is made possible. So technically, braces do not weaken your teeth; they weaken the soft tissues around them.
Will Wearing Braces Loosen My Teeth?
All orthodontic patients experience weaker teeth while wearing braces. Every patient’s experience will be different. The challenges a patient faces will depend on the treatment plan and other factors like age, genetics, general health, malocclusions, or the nature of the bite. The feeling of loose or weak teeth can last up to two years after the braces come off.
What is happening underneath the surface is the simultaneous destruction and creation of new bone around your roots. It temporarily weakens your teeth, causing them to wiggle.
It is also why your orthodontist suggests wearing retainers at the end of your treatment with braces. Retainers will hold your teeth in position until the new bone stabilizes your loose tooth sufficiently.
Retainers ensure that your teeth don’t relapse into their former positions. Once the bone and the tissues grow strong, your teeth can stay in the desired position. The “retention period” can usually take up to two years.
How Will Wearing Braces Affect My Teeth Roots?
Wearing braces can have some effect on the roots of your teeth. In some patients, Apical root resorption (ARR) occurs. It happens when the body’s cells reabsorb the roots of your teeth or cause the roots to dissolve away gradually. It could lead to shorter roots.
Now, this can be problematic to a potential individual considering braces because damaged roots can mean other dental procedures in the long run, such as root canals, tooth extraction, and tooth replacement.
There is no cause for worry, and an accurate orthodontic treatment plan can prevent it. Orthodontists check for such complications by regularly monitoring your teeth using radiographs.
Early detection of the symptoms can help thwart its onset. Periodic visits to your orthodontist ensure careful monitoring of your teeth’ movement. If necessary, your orthodontist will make the required changes.
Other common side effects
Discomfort and pain caused by wearing braces is the most common side effect, and you may experience it subsequently each time they are tightened. As your teeth are gently coaxed out of their positions, your gum tissues will feel sore and painful. For some people, it can even manifest in the form of headaches.
If the pain is moderate, you should take rest. If it is unbearable, you could take some over-the-counter pain relievers with the consent of your orthodontist. Consult your service providers if you are experiencing persistent pain.
If you experience mild irritation in the form of minor bruises or sore spots on your cheeks and lips, know that it is nothing to be alarmed about. These are the effects of your body adapting to dental appliances, and they are temporary and will go away.
Some products, like orthodontic wax, are designed to reduce the friction caused by braces on your mouth. Visit your orthodontist if you have bleeds due to sharp wires poking at your mouth.
Jaw pain may result in those who have problems with their Temporomandibular (TM) joint. For some, wearing braces can cause jaw muscles to spasm, leading to dull aching pain in the jaws, neck, and head.
For the latter, try massaging your jaws or applying a warm pack to ease the tension. OTC medication can also provide temporary relief. People with TMD might require a thorough and conclusive diagnosis before starting treatment.
Cavities, although more prevalent in brace wearers, can lead to problems in the future like tooth decay, extraction, and delay in treatment. Also, they are counter-productive, and there is no point in having perfectly aligned teeth if they are unhealthy.
It would be best if you took extra care to practice oral hygiene while wearing braces. Brush after a meal or at least rinse with mouthwash. Flossing every day is a must. Avoiding sticky, sugary food will do your teeth a world of good.
Your tooth’s enamel loses calcium when it decalcifies, and pale white, chalky spots appear on them. It is pervasive in patients that wear braces. Poor oral hygiene, not braces, causes it.
Braces offer many benefits.
Good oral hygiene practices can quickly curtail most problems mentioned above. The benefits of wearing braces can far outweigh the side effects caused by them. Not only do braces give you an aesthetically pleasing look, but they can also improve your dental health significantly like:
- Fixing your bite and easing your jaw and neck pain
- Preventing gum problems
- Aligning your teeth and preventing caries
- Making brushing and flossing easier
- Fixing issues like teeth grinding
- Improving your confidence
- Making your smile attractive
An orthodontist offering a range of teeth straightening treatments can be a valuable partner in preventing future dental problems. So do plenty of research and seek a certified orthodontist who is qualified to handle your teeth in the manner best for you. Straight and healthy teeth can work wonders and add value to your personality.
But to achieve phenomenal results, we all need to play our part- yours is to be regular with your appointments, follow instructions, ask questions and seek help when needed.
Dr. Bill Redmond is a native of Southern California, the son of an orthodontist and the husband of a general dentist. That makes family gatherings pretty interesting…if you like teeth!