As Abbotsford, Surrey and Langley orthodontists, Dr. Sharma and Dr. Lin answer patients’ questions every day. Usually, they’re related to the cost of Invisalign or braces, the length of treatment or the ideal age for kicking off the teeth-straightening process. However, every so often, we’ll get questions that are a little less common or, occasionally, pretty creative or unexpected. Based on our own experiences and the things people are asking on the Internet, here are some of the more uncommon orthodontics questions we’ve come across and, of course, our answers.
- Can braces cause harm when going for an MRI?
We’ve received questions before about an MRI and braces and it’s a good one. MRI, technically called magnetic resonance imaging, is an imaging exam that utilizes a really powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the anatomy. Because of the magnetic field, it can be dangerous to have metal objects nearby, which is why when you have an MRI, they ask you to remove things like jewelry or coins in your pocket. It makes sense to worry about whether it’s safe to get an MRI with braces. However, studies of MRI and braces have shown that most orthodontic appliances, including braces, fixed retainers and some palatal expanders, are secure enough to be safe and they won’t heat the tissue around them to a worrisome degree.
However, while getting an MRI with braces may be A-Okay as far as safety is concerned, it’s important to note that braces can result in artifacts, which are visual anomalies that interfere with the quality of the image. These artifacts usually occur on images of the facial, orbital or, sometimes, the brain and cervical spine regions. If you’re having a brain scan done or a scan of your sinuses, there’s a small chance that this could be an issue. Thankfully, there are different techniques that can be used to alleviate the artifact and get clearer images. It’s rare that a patient would be asked to remove their braces but it could happen if someone is being screened for a serious issue in the head or neck area, the technician can’t get the necessary images and it can’t wait until orthodontic treatment is finished. If you’re worried about complications from a brain scan and braces, talk to your physician and see what they recommend but you can be rest assured that it’s safe.
- How can I take my braces off at home?
We saw a question on an Internet forum about taking braces off at home. Thankfully, all of the answers strongly cautioned against doing this. The person inquiring had braces on for many years but moved out of state, didn’t have a new orthodontist and could no longer afford to finish treatment. They were interested in a DIY removal process and were wondering about the cons of taking braces off at home. In the best case scenario, a person might be able to remove their brackets themselves. However, a special adhesive is used to bond your brackets to your teeth. Considering braces are a fixed orthodontic appliance and are meant to stay in place for quite some time, the glue is extremely strong. Without the right tools and experience, you’d likely have a good amount of that adhesive residue stuck to your teeth.
The more likely consequence of taking your braces off at home is potentially causing harm. You could be left with cracked teeth, damaged enamel or even a missing tooth if you use force to try to remove your braces. Visiting an orthodontist and letting them know your situation is your best bet if you don’t want to continue treatment. We’re always willing to work with our Langley, Abbotsford and Surrey braces patients and we’d never let it get to the point that they felt they had to remove their hardware on their own. We suspect most doctors would also be willing to work with you in this situation. The cost of having a professional remove your braces pales in comparison to the cost of having damaged teeth restored.
- Do people still get braces with headgear?
Yes. Headgear still exists and, in some cases, it can be a good treatment option. It’s usually reserved for children in phase I orthodontic treatment who are still developing, as it can help with discrepancies in jaw growth or make space for teeth to come in. In adults or teens, braces and headgear isn’t usually the go-to combination. We have a lot of newer options like TADs (temporary anchorage devices), forsus springs and a slew of other orthodontic appliances that offer a great alternative to headgear. There’s still a stigma around headgear and, when possible, most doctors will try to create a treatment plan that involves wearing it at night or just when a patient is at home, so they don’t have to go to school with it.
- What are the effects of not brushing your teeth with braces?
Patients have asked us this before and it’s usually more out of curiosity and not out of a genuine desire to really skip brushing with braces. The brackets and wires used with braces create a food trap. If you don’t brush away this food debris, it will interact with the bacteria in your mouth and form plaque. When plaque isn’t removed, it releases acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, eventually causing tooth decay and gum disease. In a video Dr. Sharma made about how to brush and floss with braces, he even showed a few images of what happens when you don’t brush your teeth during treatment and, believe us, it’s not good. If the decay is left untreated, you could be looking at the need for extensive fillings or root canals or end up with missing teeth or issues with your gums.
You’ll have to put in some extra work to keep your teeth clean when you’re in orthodontic treatment. Correctly flossing and brushing with braces requires learning new techniques but if you’re investing in your smile, it’s well worth it to keep it looking bright. Braces work best in a healthy oral environment and getting cavities during treatment can slow the process down. The bottom line: brush those teeth in the morning, after meals and before bed and be sure to floss at least once a day!
- Can braces cause loose teeth?
Patients sometimes panic because their teeth feel loose after getting braces put on and they’re worried they’re going to fall out. It’s actually perfectly normal to feel like your teeth are loose with braces because your pearly whites are on move. The periodontal ligament stretches when faced with continuous pressure from braces or Invisalign aligners and then the bone that holds the teeth begins to break down in what’s known as bone remodeling. When this happens, the teeth loosen slightly to shift into their ideal locations. When treatment is over, new born forms around the teeth in their new places, the ligament tightens back up and the teeth are secured.
If you sustain a blow to the face, however, and you have a loose tooth with braces, it could be another story. Dental trauma, particularly from sports, results in a lot of teeth being knocked out each year. To protect yourself, always wear a mouthguard. If, after getting hit in the face, you have a fractured, chipped, loose, displaced or completely missing tooth, head to your dentist as soon as possible. Teeth can often be re-implanted for a short time after the injury. Once the immediate aftermath has been dealt with, call our office and we’ll get you in to repair your braces and ensure your treatment stays on course.
- Can braces change your personality?
This one is another question we saw on the Internet. While the braces themselves can’t create any personality changes, you’ll probably notice some changes as you go through treatment and, more so, when your braces come off. We’re not talking about the materials interacting with your brain chemistry or anything but about the huge boost in confidence you’ll get from loving your smile. Our society places a lot of emphasis on having perfect teeth and when you feel good about yourself and how others perceive you, it enhances your self-esteem. You’ll be more likely to take on challenges, interact with others, try new things and grow as a person. That certainly equates to a personality change. Before Dr. Lin and Dr. Sharma were Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley orthodontists, they were braces patients themselves. The confidence they gained from straightening their teeth and how it transformed them for the better were part of the reason they both got into the profession. It’s powerful stuff! Be prepared to become a more confident you when you’re finished treatment.
- Do dental braces commonly cause people to develop lisps?
Braces don’t cause a lisp in the long-term and they can actually be a treatment for certain speech problems. Some types of malocclusion (an improper bite) create a lisp and by repositioning the teeth and jaw through orthodontic treatment, it can improve a patient’s speech.
In the short-term, there is a relationship between orthodontic appliances, including dental braces and lisps. When you first start braces, particularly if you have lingual braces, or Invisalign treatment, it may feel as if you’re talking funny while you get acclimated to having an appliance in your mouth. This goes away quickly. To speed up the process and help your speech return to normal, talk as much as you can. Practice makes perfect after all. Chat with friends on the phone, sing along to your favorite songs and read aloud to yourself.
- Is it possible to liproll (beatbox technique) with braces?
We’ve come across this question in forums and there are quite a few YouTube videos and tutorials about beatboxing with braces. It’s not a question many orthodontists probably hear very often. However, based on how awesome we’ve seen people beatbox with braces on, we’d say the answer is yes. As for the liproll, if your braces are causing you discomfort when you attempt to do it, you can try covering the brackets that are irritating your lips with orthodontic wax.
If you have more questions about orthodontic treatment or you’re ready to start working on your dream smile, book a free consultation at Aura Orthodontics. Our Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley orthodontists will help you decide on the treatment option that’s best for your needs and answer all of your questions. Schedule your visit online or by calling us at (604) 593-5225.