Fixed braces are the most popular type of brace. They are worn to correct badly aligned teeth, over/underbite and malocclusion (bad bite) and a whole host of orthodontic problems. This brace is fixed securely in place and may be worn with headgear although this may only occur at certain times of the day, e.g. night time.
A typical fixed brace consists of small brackets and a wire which are attached to your teeth. Small elastic bands may be used to help secure the brace into position. This brace is available in metal, plastic or ceramic and can be fixed to both the upper and lower teeth.
Modern versions such as Damon braces are made from a clear material which is considered an improvement on the traditional ‘train track’ braces. This is particularly the case in teenagers who are self-conscious about their appearance and prefer a discrete type of brace.
Note: if you are having NHS treatment then you will be offered the metal variety of brace. The ceramic or transparent brace is only available if you have private treatment.
Wearing a fixed brace
The brace is fitted in a similar way to removable and functional braces. The orthodontist will use a special filling material which acts as glue and enables the brackets to be attached to your teeth.
He/she may also insert a mini-screw into your jaw which is then attached to your brace. This acts as a further corrective device and can help with pulling your teeth into position. This mini screw is inserted via a local anaesthetic.
You can expect soreness and aching – especially if you have had a mini screw inserted – for 2 to 5 days afterwards. This soreness will occur each time the brace is adjusted but it will disappear after a short period of time. You can take over the counter painkillers, similar to those for a headache which will ease any discomfort. But ask your orthodontist for advice.
Do NOT remove this brace. It is designed to remain in place throughout the treatment process in order for it to be effective. If you attempt to remove the brace during this time then you may damage it and/or your teeth.
You may have to wear a device called headgear which helps to secure the brace in its new position. This is discussed in more detail in a separate section.
If you play contact sports then wear a gumshield over the brace. It is important that the brace is protected as it is fragile and can be easily broken.
Visit your dentist for your twice annual check up as well as regular appointments with the orthodontist. The orthodontist will check the brace and make small adjustments if needed.
What to expect with a fixed brace
A brace often feels strange at first but you will soon adjust to it. This usually applies to eating and speaking although this will soon pass. But you can help things along (which includes treatment) by avoiding sweets and sugary foods and fizzy drinks. Avoid hard foods such as apples or carrots as well as these may damage the brace.
It is a good idea to avoid these types of foods in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
How long do I need to wear a fixed brace?
It takes around a year to 3 years for the brace to re-align your teeth. But this depends upon the extent of the problem. If your brace is damaged or you miss a few appointments then the process will take much longer.
Caring for a fixed brace
Looking after your brace will preserve it and ensure that your treatment progresses as smoothly as possible. So you need to look after your brace in the same way you would with your teeth and gums.
Brush your teeth (and brace) with a fluoride toothbrush and do this 3 times a day. Use a mouthwash last thing at night.
Do you need a retainer? A retainer is a device which looks very similar to a brace and is worn after the brace has done its work in order to maintain the new position of the teeth. This device is worn all day to start with but this gradually reduces to night times only.
A retainer is worn for a set period of time, typically 6 months.