How Would You Like To Get Your Braces Off Sooner?

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Most orthodontic patients remember hearing something like this before starting their treatment; “Be careful not to break any of your braces. If so, you might have your braces on longer than planned!”

We’ve seen a big uptick recently in broken braces, wires and appliances. I wanted to write this week, from an orthodontist’s perspective, about some causes of breakage as well as the potential consequences of these problems.

Several years ago, with the help of my assistants, I treated myself with braces. Yes, I was my own orthodontic patient! I had braces from molar to molar, top and bottom. I was coaching my son’s baseball team one early, cold morning in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I didn’t have time to grab breakfast at the hotel, so I threw a protein bar in my bag. I started to get hungry mid-way through the game, so I pulled out the protein bar, which by now was really hard because of the cold. I bit into it with my back teeth and at once felt two braces break off my molars. What in the world was I thinking? I was my own orthodontist breaking my own rules!

I share this experience so you know that I understand how easy it is to forget the rules and eat hard or sticky food. All excuses aside though, the person who is affected the most from broken “parts” is the patient. Here are the main causes of breakage:

  1. Eating hard or sticky foods
  2. Biting on pens, pencils or other hard objects
  3. Flossing incorrectly

Some might think, “It’s ok if I break my braces. Dr. Coleman will just put them back on.” But not so fast! Let me explain.

Orthodontic treatment is a game of progression. We start with light, gentle forces on the teeth using small, thin wires. As the teeth straighten, we progress to stronger, heavier wires. If a patient breaks a brace or appliance, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get that brace or appliance back on the tooth in the perfect position to allow that strong, heavy wire to go through the braces again. The only choice we have at this point is to step back to that thin, light wire again. Doing this can delay treatment completion by anywhere from one to three months!

We really strive to run on time in the office. We know your time is valuable and we always want to respect that. When we set up a patient’s appointment, it’s not practical to add 15 minutes to that appointment to allow for fixing broken parts. It’s difficult to complete each patient’s planned procedures plus taking time for these repairs. So, in other words, it gets us behind in our daily schedule and people end up waiting.

As I mentioned above, I know that accidents happen. And I’m perfectly aware that sometimes things break and it’s no fault of the patient whatsoever. If we can all just remember to be very careful with what and how we eat, what we bite and chew, and be careful not to get floss caught on any braces, wires or appliances, I believe we can cut breakage in half. This would result in at least half of our patients finishing treatment on or even ahead of schedule.

I want to thank all of you for being a part of our practice. We truly appreciate and value the relationship we have with our patients and their families. We think we have the best job ever! As the school year ends, we wish you a great summer break. Have fun and be careful and we look forward to seeing you in the office again soon! And remember – if you’re looking into braces or clear aligners for yourself or a family member, summers get busy in the office. You’ll want to get your appointment scheduled as soon as you can. Call our office at 801-614-9090 to set up your free consultation.

Keep Smiling,
Dr. Coleman