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Believe it or not, more than 4 million Americans wear braces to correct their bites and improve their smiles. And their ages range from young teen to older adult.

And though millions of people wear them, it’s perfectly normal for people waiting for braces to feel nervous about the appointment. After all, you’re changing your smile in a process that can take several years.

But the best way to combat those nerves is to know what to expect when getting braces in the first place.

Here are a few things your orthodontist needs you to know before you take a seat in their chair.   

Getting Them Shouldn’t Hurt

Getting braces put on is not necessarily painful. It’s more uncomfortable. Your lips will get stretched, your mouth will dry out, and your teeth will have to adjust to having something on them.

It’s part of the process, but it should never hurt to the point of tears. And if it does or you experience any sharp pains during the appointment, let your orthodontist know immediately.

After the appointment, your teeth, gums, and lips will be sore for a few days. Take care to follow their instructions, eat soft foods, and be patient. In a week or so, you shouldn’t feel the discomfort anymore.

Use the Wax They Give You

Those brackets are smooth and shouldn’t cut your mouth. But that doesn’t mean the inside of your cheeks and lips won’t feel irritated.

They’re used to sliding against the flat surface of your teeth. And with the brackets in place, they’ll need a bit of time to toughen up. For most patients, this takes about a week or two.

But until then, use the wax your orthodontist gives you. Put a small ball of wax on top of the brackets that cause the most irritation. This helps the skin inside your mouth slide over the brackets without getting inflamed.

In most cases, the wax helps reduce sore spots in your mouth and makes it easier to get used to your new orthodontic device.

And, yes…you can eat with the wax on. Just be sure to put a fresh bit on after you eat as it won’t always stay on the bracket as you chew.

You’ll Need to Avoid Certain Foods

Unfortunately, you may need to change your eating habits, especially when you’re getting used to braces.

Avoid crunchy or hard foods like chips or carrots, especially after getting your braces installed or tightened. Chewing these foods can increase sensitivity and cause you discomfort.

You’ll also want to avoid eating overly sticky foods like gummy candies, chewing gum, and caramels. These can get stuck in between the brackets and increase your risk of cavities.

And try to avoid foods you have to bite into. These include hand fruits like apples, pears, and peaches as well as corn on the cob and chicken on-the-bone. Though they won’t damage your braces, they can make it harder to keep your teeth clean.

Remember, you can always eat these foods if you cut them into bite-sized pieces.

You May Have a Hard Time Talking at First

Take a moment and think about how your lips move when you’re talking while you eat. You probably sound a bit different, right?

Well, the same thing can happen when you first get your braces.

Your lips will move differently. They’re no longer sitting against your teeth and this change in position can cause you to sound different or talk with a slight lisp until you get used to the braces.

Don’t worry—you will get used to them. It just might take a week or two. After wearing them for a bit, you’ll figure out how to move your mouth to produce the sounds you normally do.

There’s No Age Limit

Braces may seem like something best suited for teenagers. And though most people get braces between the ages of 8 and 14, there’s no reason adults can’t benefit from treatment.

In fact, for some people, it can be better. As an adult, you’re more responsible and better prepared to care for your teeth. You understand the financial investment of braces and actively want the treatment to succeed.

This means you’re more likely to follow directions, keep your teeth in good shape, and be diligent about addressing minor discomforts and changes with your bite.

And you’re free to make decisions like the types of brackets you want and can better express your concerns and questions.

Lip Balm is Your Best Friend

When you first get your braces, you can expect the process to take up to two hours. During this time, your lips will dry out and can crack or get uncomfortable.

Bring lip balm with you to your appointment and apply liberally before your orthodontist starts working on your teeth. This will help you keep your lips hydrated and reduces discomfort during and after the appointment.

You’ll also want to keep your favorite lip balm handy during any tightening appointments. The less dried out your lips get, the more pleasant the appointment will be.

Knowing What to Expect When Getting Braces Helps

Getting braces is stressful for everyone, no matter how young or young at heart you are. But when you know what to expect when getting braces, you’re better prepared to take the appointment in stride.

If you’ve struggled with your smile, don’t let it keep you from living life to its fullest. Contact us today to schedule a free orthodontic consultation. We’re here to help you fall in love with your smile.