Center for Young Women's Health

Dental Health:



Wisdom Teeth

If you've been told by your dentist that your teeth are not aligned correctly or your teeth are too crowded, you may need braces. Braces are the most common way to fix crooked and/or crowded teeth and help align the jaw (keep it in the right position).Your dentist will likely have you make an appointment with an orthodontist (a dentist who specializes in braces) to find out if braces are right for you.


What are braces?

Braces are bands, wires, and brackets that hold the teeth in place. The good news is that braces and bands can be stylish. They now come in different colors and some are almost invisible. Movement of your teeth can also be done with clear, removable plastic aligners as well. Your dentist or orthodontist can help decide if these are right for you.


How do braces work?

Braces work by slowly moving and straightening your teeth so they have enough space and they are aligned properly. The wires apply pressure to your teeth to cause them to move in the right direction and the rubber bands help line up your teeth to make them straighter. Braces usually need to be adjusted about once a month.


How long will I have braces?

Since everybody’s teeth are different, it may take a few months to years to correct teeth that are not straight.


What do I do when I get my new braces?

Your mouth will likely be sore for 1-2 days after you get your new braces. Chewing hard foods may be uncomfortable, so it's best to stick with soft foods for 24-48 hours. It's also a good idea to eat soft foods on the days that you have your braces adjusted or tightened. For example: macaroni and cheese, soups, oatmeal, mashed potatoes.


Foods to stay away from in general, when you have braces:

Ways to relieve soreness of your mouth:

How often will I need to see my orthodontist?

When you meet with your orthodontist, he/she will tell you how often you should come back for follow-up visits. You will need to have regular check-ups to see how the braces are working and to adjust or tighten them. Tightening your braces keeps your teeth straight and moving in the right direction.


Do I still need to floss my teeth?

Yes! It is extra important for you to take good care of your teeth when you have braces because food and bacteria can get stuck. Brushing and flossing will help prevent cavities, and keep your gums healthy. Your orthodontist or assistant will show you how to brush and floss your teeth.


What is life like after braces?

After you get your braces taken off, you will probably need to wear a retainer. A retainer is a “dental appliance” that helps your teeth stay in place and prevents them from moving. Your orthodontist will let you know how long you will need to wear your retainer because it can be different with each person.


Here are some tips to remember when you are wearing a retainer:

  1. Take the retainer out when you eat.
  2. Use your toothbrush, toothpaste and warm water to clean your retainer once a day. This gets rid of trapped food, bacteria and any odors.
  3. When you are not wearing your retainer, keep it in a retainer case.
  4. Don’t wrap your retainer in tissue or a napkin, as you are apt to throw it away by mistake.
  5. Take your retainer out when you swim.
  6. Keep your retainer away from hot water and hot temperatures- it’s made of a plastic material and could melt.
  7. Wear a mouth guard over your braces, if you play sports.
  8. Bring your retainer to every orthodontist appointment.

How much do braces cost?

Braces can be pricey depending on whether you have dental insurance or not. It’s a good idea to ask your parent(s) or guardian if you have dental insurance. If you do, you can find an orthodontist on your plan. You should also ask your dental insurance provider how much they will pay for braces. Most orthodontists will set up a payment plan to help with expenses.



Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 8/14/2012

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