Your teeth have such an important role in your life. They help you eat, speak, smile and communicate. They also help give your face its shape.

Because of this, choosing to have braces might affect some of your daily routine. While this should not influence your decision to have braces, it’s always good to be aware of the limitations.

How long will I need braces for?

It really depends on how much work needs doing to change the position of your teeth and how far your teeth need to be moved.

Fixed braces

Usually take between 12 and 24 months, but could take longer if the problem is severe.

Functional braces

Usually take between 6 months to a year. These are usually followed by a fixed brace.

Clear aligner braces

The time for these varies and will depend on how severe the problem being treated is. Some simple treatments may take less than six months, but more complicated treatments can take 12 to 24 months.

Removable braces

Usually take less time than a fixed brace. However, you might need to wear a removable brace before and after having treatment with a fixed brace.

Your dental team or orthodontist will be able to give you advice about your brace and teeth. If you don't do what they say, the brace can take longer to work, and the treatment may be unsuccessful. If your brace is damaged or broken this can also delay the treatment.

How often should I see the orthodontist while I am wearing my brace?

You will need to have your brace adjusted regularly to make sure it is working properly. Usually you will have an appointment roughly every six to eight weeks. It is very important that you go to these appointments, or the brace will take a lot longer to work.

Will my mouth be sore in between visits?

Your mouth is very sensitive to change and it will take you a few days to get used to wearing your brace.

At first, your teeth may feel uncomfortable because of the pressure the brace puts on them. The brace may also feel uncomfortable and tight against your teeth after it has been adjusted.

Painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help, but just take a normal dose like you would for a headache. Some parts of the brace may also cause sore spots on your gums and lips. Your dental team or orthodontist can give you a clear wax to put on the part of the brace that is causing the soreness.

If any part of your brace is causing continual soreness after a few days, go back to your orthodontist.

Will it change how I speak?

Sometimes a brace may affect your speech at first and cause you problems in pronouncing certain words. Lisping may also be a problem at first. But most people soon adapt and begin to speak clearly within a few days.

Is there anything I should avoid doing?

Nail biting and chewing your pen or pencil can damage or break your brace. Avoid anything that may break, damage or distort your brace. Problems with your brace will cause your treatment to take longer than planned and the result may not be as good as it could have been.

Can I do sports while wearing my brace?

It depends on the type of brace you’ve got.

Removable brace

Take it out and put it safely into a brace case (you can get one from your orthodontist) during contact sports and swimming.

Wear a mouthguard if you are playing contact sports. Talk to your orthodontist or dentist about which type of mouthguard to wear.

Put your brace back in straight after playing sport.

Fixed brace

You should wear a mouthguard, designed for use during contact sports, over the brace. Your orthodontist will tell you which is best and build one that is custom made for you.

Clear aligner brace

You can wear this during sport, with a mouthguard over the top if you play a contact sport.

Can I still play musical instruments?

A brace may affect your playing wind instruments, but with practice you should get used to it. If your brace is removable then it is best to take it out and store it safely in a brace case. Put it back in straight after you have finished playing.

Can I eat normally?

Eating the wrong foods can damage or even break your brace. For the first few days, it may be better to keep to soft foods because your teeth may feel a little tender.

Whatever type of brace you have, avoid sticky, chewy and sugary foods.

Chewing gum is not recommended as it can stick to your brace. Avoid hard foods such as whole apples, carrots, French bread and crusty rolls. These foods could break the wires and brackets that are part of your brace.

At first it is best to cut your food into small pieces and keep to a soft diet. Food may build up in the brackets and in between your teeth and will need careful cleaning to remove it.

Avoid fizzy drinks, sodas, pops, carbonated drinks and natural fruit juices, as these are often high in sugar and can be acidic. The acid can cause tooth decay and dissolve the surface of your teeth (called ‘dental erosion’). Fizzy drinks can also stain the brackets of your brace. If you do drink these types of drinks, don't sip the drink – use a straw instead. Water and plain milk are the safest drinks.

Why should I look after my mouth when I have a brace?

It is very important that you take the time and effort needed to keep your teeth and braces clean.

This will help you avoid problems such as tooth decay, sore and swollen gums, and 'tooth decalcification'. Decalcification is when you lose the calcium from the surface of your teeth. This may leave white spots on your teeth after the brace is removed.

It is also important to keep having your usual dental check-ups with your regular dental team while you are having orthodontic treatment. This is to make sure that your teeth and mouth stay healthy.

What if I lose or damage my brace?

If you lose or damage your brace tell your dental team or orthodontist as soon as possible.

Do not wait until your next appointment. If you are not wearing your brace, or if it is not in the right position, this affects your treatment and makes it more likely that your teeth will go back to their old position.

Dentists may charge for lost or broken braces before replacing them.


Related pages

  - Learning about braces

  - Videos about braces

  - Top tips