FAQs about braces
Steve Preddy, Head of Clinical at Bupa Dental Care, has answered your frequently asked questions about all things braces.
Am I too old to have braces?
No! You can have braces fitted at any age. Braces are commonly associated with teenagers, but lots of adults opt for braces too. If you’re worried about the look of braces, there are different types of invisible options available too.
How long do braces take to straighten your teeth?
The length of time it takes to straighten your teeth completely depends on your individual issues and what kind of brace you opt for. For traditional braces, the average treatment lasts from 18 months to two years, but if you opt for cosmetic straightening, it could be done in as little as six months.
Do braces hurt?
It might take a while to adjust to having braces. You’ll likely experience some discomfort with whatever braces you have fitted, as it’s an unusual feeling when the teeth are being straightened. You’ll get used to this feeling the longer you have them on. If you’re having fixed braces fitted, you might also experience soreness on the inside of the cheeks where the brackets rub on the gums. This should ease within a few days and can be helped with over-the-counter painkillers, orthodontic wax, or rinsing your mouth with salt water.
Can adults have NHS orthodontic treatment?
NHS orthodontics is only provided to under 18s who are eligible after their assessment, however there are plenty of options available for those looking to get adult braces. In rare cases, NHS orthodontics might be provided for those with severe health problems through their local hospital service.
Do your teeth straighten as you age?
No! You don’t ‘grow out’ of having orthodontic problems. If you have common issues such as failure in tooth eruption, an excessively deep overbite or an overjet, you need braces to fix the problem. There’s no age limit on having braces, so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat because you didn’t have them as a teenager.
Is there anything I can’t eat or drink with braces on?
You should avoid eating anything hard, sticky, or crunchy while you have braces. Foods such as toffee, lollipops or caramel should be avoided as this could break the wires. If you want to eat foods which are difficult to chew such as carrots or biscuits, you should break them up into small pieces to avoid any damage being done to the brace. You should avoid fizzy drinks during treatment, as this could cause decay in the teeth. Even fizzy drinks advertised as ‘diet’ or ‘low sugar’ will still contribute to plaque build-up, which can cause decay and stain the brackets of your braces. If you’re looking for a sweet fix, try to go for a yoghurt or some sweet seedless grapes instead.
Can I still play sports with braces on?
Yes. Having braces fitted won’t stop you from playing your favourite sport, however, you’ll need to take extra precautions to make sure your brace doesn’t get damaged. According to the British Orthodontic Society, between 13% and 39% of dental injuries are sports related1. If you’re playing contact sports such as rugby or hockey, it’s essential you wear a mouth guard. Your dentist will be able to provide more information about which mouth guard to purchase, or whether you will need a custom-made one.
When should I take my child to an orthodontist?
Children as young as seven can benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Your regular dentist can spot any potential problems during your general check-ups. This may not mean that they need immediate treatment, but will be something which is closely monitored during follow-up appointments. It’s important to recognise orthodontic problems early, as children’s teeth can often be straightened more easily than adults as the teeth can be guided through the developing jaw bones. NHS orthodontic assessments are free of charge.
1) British Orthodontic Society: https://www.bos.org.uk/Information-for-Schools/Orthodontic-Contact-Sports