The payoff for wearing braces is a beautiful straight smile for the rest of your life. But we at the Brace Place understand that sometimes the waiting can feel like ages and wonder how to get your braces off faster. Some of our patients to know how to get their braces off faster so they are ready for high school graduation — prom, photos, cap, and gown… all those moments would be that much more perfect with a new smile. Other patients just feel impatient with the process and want fast braces while still achieving the straight teeth they’ve always wanted.
So how long do braces last?
In any case, what is life with braces like? One of the first things many of our Tulsa and Claremore patients ask us is, “How long do braces take?”
For braces to work properly and shift teeth gradually (and comfortably) into alignment, they typically take about 18 months. So whether it’s a milestone event you’re aiming for or you just want to be braces-free as soon as possible, here are some tips from Dr. Anand Patel for how to get braces off sooner than later.
Follow Food Guidelines
Diet Do’s and Don’ts With Braces
It goes without saying that wearing braces requires a slight change in what you can and can’t eat. Regardless of whether you have modern metal braces or clear ceramic braces, you want to avoid foods that can damage or even break your braces. Braces that are less than 100% functional can delay your treatment. During the time your braces are out of commission, the pause in treatment might set back your teeth movements and extend your treatment time.
For these reasons, braces-wearers who want to expedite their treatment and have faster braces should stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods that can damage braces such as:
- Bagels and pizza crust
- Hard taco shells
- Chewing gum
- Hard candies
- Anything you have to bite into, like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob
This might seem like a long list, but there’s plenty of foods considered safe for braces, and sticking with braces-friendly foods will ensure you’re taking good care of your oral health and your braces at the same time. You can eat soft foods like yogurt, pasta and rice, eggs, tofu, soup, and soft fruits to name a few.
Food Preparation With Braces
You can also cut up your food into smaller pieces if you’re really missing those raw vegetables and fruits, those hearty, crusty bread, or chewy meat dishes. Try softening vegetables by steaming or roasting them or blending fruit into sippable smoothies.
Keep your mouth healthy
Good oral hygiene is your best bet against tooth decay and gum disease. A healthy mouth can help keep your orthodontic treatment on track, or in some cases, result in faster braces. Clean, healthy gums are more likely to allow teeth to move faster. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day — in the morning and before bed — and after every meal. Don’t forget to floss first before brushing!
Now, we should mention that proper brushing and flossing with braces does take a bit longer, but you’ll most likely agree that a few extra minutes in diligent oral care every day is worth the extra time and effort. When your braces come off, you won’t just have a straight smile but a fresh and healthy one, too!
When you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, say, if you’re eating out and don’t have your toothbrush handy, we suggest at least a few thorough swishes of water to help remove food debris and sugar. Rinsing your mouth with water will also help your mouth go back to a pH level that’s less hospitable to the bad bacteria that can turn into plaque.
Wear your elastics
The elastics that Dr. Patel will give you are a must to get braces off faster. Be sure to follow the instructions you’re given for wearing them — these elastics play a big role in aligning your teeth. Only take them out when eating and make it a habit to check you’ve got them in before you turn in for the night.
So elastics are in… but what’s out? If you’re prone to chewing on the end of pens or pencils, or you’re a nailbiter, now would be the time to quit. Chewing on these could damage your braces. As we mentioned earlier, that’s not something you want when your goal is to get braces off faster.
Go to all your appointments!
Now, you might think your braces treatment is coming along nicely and you can skip a check-up or two to the Brace Place. However, only an orthodontist can properly assess your progress. If Dr. Patel hasn’t seen your teeth at the prescribed times, this might extend your orthodontic treatment. You could be wearing those metal braces or clear braces for a little while longer instead of the faster braces you were hoping for.
We can’t forget to mention that seeing your dentist twice a year is also important. As mentioned previously, your oral health does affect your braces treatment, and who doesn’t want both a healthy and beautiful smile?
Be gentle on your teeth
Your teeth and gums are working really hard during the straightening process. In essence, your braces are stretching ligaments on one side of the teeth roots which results in compressed ligaments on the other side. This stretched ligaments/compressed ligaments scenario signals osteoblasts to create bone tissue in the space created on the stretched side, while osteoclasts go about breaking down tissue on the compressed side. So it’s recommended you take it easy on your mouth and teeth.
Try to break any habits that put extra stress or pressure on your teeth like teeth grinding or clenching your jaw. Use over-the-counter pain relief if you’re feeling discomfort — especially after an adjustment. And if you play sports, be sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces from accidents that could prevent you from your goal to get braces off faster.
It’s safe to say that there’s no shortcut with braces. But following these tips for how to get braces off faster can help towards revealing your brand new smile quicker. If you have more questions about getting braces off faster or are still asking yourself, “How long do braces last?” Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place are happy to help. Contact us at our Tulsa or Claremore offices, or book a virtual appointment.