What are fixed appliances?
- Fixed appliances are wires that are held in place by brackets bonded to your teeth. They are the most commonly used appliances and are able to produce very precise tooth movement to achieve ideal results.
- Treatment with fixed appliances usually starts once all the adult teeth have erupted and usually lasts for 18-24 months. All fixed appliance treatment is followed by retention.
- Many different brands and types of fixed appliance are available, which can be very confusing for patients, but they all essentially perform the same function.
- The two main types of fixed appliances are metal fixed appliances and tooth-coloured fixed appliances.
Tooth Coloured / Clear fixed appliances
- Rather than using stainless steel, the attachments may be made from a hard ceramic material to blend in with the tooth colour. The orthodontic wires can also be tooth coloured to help improve the appearance further.
- These appliances offer a more aesthetic appearance as they are made of clear materials and you can almost hide the fact that you are wearing a brace, therefore they are visually less prominent and blend in with the natural colour of the teeth.
- Ceramic fixed appliances can be as effective as conventional fixed appliances at achieving tooth movement. Sometimes they are not recommended for the lower teeth, if the bite is deep.
Self-ligating fixed appliances
- All the main orthodontic manufacturers produce their own brand of self-ligating appliances, that maybe metal or ceramic (tooth-coloured).
- Rather than using elastics to hold the wire into position, self-ligating appliances have an integral clip mechanism that holds the wire which allows the wire to slide more freely.
- Whilst there is no evidence that this mechanism produces a more superior result than a conventional fixed appliance, there is evidence that the time taken to change the wire is reduced and there is less likelihood of the appliance discolouring in-between visits as no elastics are used to tie the wires.
FAQs about fixed braces
It is likely to be sore for about 3 – 5 days each time the brace is adjusted. If necessary, simple painkillers such as the ones you would normally take for a headache should help – please read the instructions on the packet. If the brace rubs your lips or cheeks, you can use some wax to help with this. Your orthodontist can give you further advice.
The brace you are now wearing is fixed to the teeth for the whole of your treatment. You should not try to remove it, as you may damage your teeth and the treatment will not work.
Yes, you should be able to eat normally. However, for your orthodontic treatment to work well and in the shortest possible time, it is important that you take care of your teeth and brace. In order to prevent damage to both, you should:
- Avoid sugary snacks/drinks between meals and at bedtime.
- Avoid sticky, chewy or hard sweets, mints and sugared chewing gum.
- Avoid fizzy drinks (including diet drinks) and large amounts of fruit juice.
- Hard or chewy foods – such as apples, carrots and crusty bread – can damage your brace. Avoid them or cut them up first!
It is important that you brush your teeth well for at least 3 minutes, twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste. If possible, carry a brush with you for use after lunch. Brushing may take a little longer when you have a fixed brace so take your time. Pay particular attention to brush where the gums meet the teeth. Inter-dental brushes may help you to clean around the brace and in between the teeth. An alcohol-free fluoride mouthrinse should also be used daily. Use it at a different time of the day to when you brush your teeth. This helps maintain the fluoride protection to your teeth. Avoid eating or rinsing for 20 minutes after use. Sugary snacks/drinks and poor cleaning of your teeth and brace will lead to permanent damage to your teeth.
Usually about 12 – 30 months but this will vary according to how severe your tooth problem is. Missed appointments or repeated breakages of the brace will add to your overall treatment time.
You will need regular appointments (usually every 5-8 weeks) during treatment for the brace to be adjusted.
It may be necessary for you to wear elastics and/or headgear at some stage during your treatment. Headgear is usually worn in the evenings and at night. Elastics are worn inside the mouth during the day and night, including at mealtimes.
Once the active phase of your treatment has finished, it will be necessary to wear a retaining brace. This may be removable or it may be fixed behind your front teeth. The length of time this has to be worn can vary. Your orthodontist will advise you.
- You will need to wear retainers for some time after your treatment finishes to keep your great new smile in place!
Yes. It will be important you still have check-ups with your regular dentist throughout orthodontic treatment so that your teeth can be checked for decay.
It is recommended that you wear a gumshield. This will also be the case if you take part in activities requiring a protective helmet e.g. roller-blading, skateboarding and horse riding. Ask your orthodontist about this.
A fixed brace may make it more difficult for you to play your wind or brass instrument. You will need to discuss this with your music teacher and orthodontist.
Ring up for an appointment as soon as is reasonably possible. Do not wait for your next routine appointment as the breakage may slow your treatment, or may result in damage to your teeth. If you repeatedly break your brace, your treatment may be stopped early.
Top tips for looking after your fixed braces
- Brush your teeth for 3 minutes at least twice each day.
- Avoid fizzy drinks.
- Use an alcohol-free fluoride mouth rinse once every day.
- Avoid hard, sticky and chewy sweets and foods.
- Avoid sugary snacks & drinks between meals and at bedtime.
- Continue to visit your dentist regularly.