21 Braces Tips Recommended by Dentists for Adults Over 50 Years Old
It’s never too late to get braces. Having straight teeth will help to
- increase self-confidence,
- reduce gum and bone loss,
- prevent tooth decay, and
- prevent headaches and jaw pains.
If you’re an adult over 50, this is especially important since your teeth would’ve gone through natural wear and tear. Moreover, poor oral health is also associated with other health concerns such as heart disease and stroke.
Here are 21 tips to prep you for this life-changing experience!
Going for Your First Braces Consultation
Tip 1: Consider the different braces options
The type of braces you choose will depend on several factors, such as
- hygiene level
- cost and
- length of treatment.
It’s best to learn about the different options, weigh the pros and cons, and seek advice from your dentist based on your lifestyle habits.
Traditional metal braces
Traditional metal braces are the most popular and affordable type of treatment. It uses metal brackets, colored elastic modules, and wires.
Traditional ceramic braces
Traditional ceramic braces use the same 1st generation technology as metal braces. The only difference is the color of the modules; this is a good option if you prefer something less visible.
However, the downside to this is that they can stain easily if not well taken care of.
Self-ligating metal braces
Self-ligating braces use a 2nd generation technology – the “sliding door” technique. This means that the brackets can be held in place without modules while allowing the wire to slide when required.
This is a more hygienic but pricier version of traditional metal braces. Another upside is that it requires a shorter treatment time.
Self-ligating ceramic braces
Self-ligating ceramic braces combine the advantages of ceramic braces while rectifying the issues of 1st generation technology. The only downside is that it’s more expensive.
Invisalign is a set of almost-invisible plastic aligners that makes a more convenient and comfortable option. However, it’s the most expensive alternative.
Tip 2: Check for installment plans
Braces can get expensive. During your consultation, check if the clinic’s installment plans are flexible and able to work within your budget.
Tip 3: Ask questions to clear your doubts
Some questions you should be asking include
- What is the treatment process like?
- How frequent are the follow-up appointments?
- How long will the treatment period be?
- Do I need to get any teeth extracted?
- Do I need any restorative dental work before getting braces fitted?
This will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Tip 4: Get advice from experienced patients
To gain more insights, you can ask your dentist if there’s any staff who did braces at your age and request to talk to them about their experience. You can also speak to your family and friends.
After Getting Your Braces
Tip 5: Temporary pain relief methods
During the first week, you should expect to feel some discomfort. Some temporary pain relief methods include
- placing a heating pad or warm cloth on your cheeks
- applying dental wax (provided by your dentist) on your braces to reduce friction against your mouth
Tip 6: Adopt a soft food diet
It’s advised to adopt a soft food diet to reduce the pain.
Some nutritious soft food recipes include
Remember to chop your food up into smaller pieces as well!
Tip 7: Avoid certain foods and drinks
- Sticky and chewy foods
These will get stuck in your braces easily.
- Hard foods
Apart from causing more discomfort, they’ll also cause the brackets and wires to loosen.
- Dark coloured drinks
This will stain your braces if you have ceramic ones or Invisalign.
Tip 8: Prepare an on-the-go cleaning kit
Get a travel-size cleaning kit ready – it should include a soft toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, wax, and lip balm.
This will come in handy when you get food stuck in your teeth, and to brush and floss after every meal.
Tip 9: Choosing your braces colours
If you’ve opted for traditional metal braces, you’d be able to pick a new colour every appointment. Avoid choosing colours such as black or brown as it’ll look like you have food stuck in your teeth.
It’s best to opt for grey or silver o-rings. Clear ones will look neutral as well, but there’s a risk of staining them easily, depending on what you eat and drink.
Tightening Your Braces
Braces tightening will be done routinely to ensure that your teeth move to the ideal position.
If you experience the following, you may be due for tightening.
- Loose brackets
- No pain or pressure felt on your teeth or gums from eating harder foods
Power chains may also be used in some cases to move your teeth quickly.
Tips 5 – 7 also apply at this stage for at least a few days while there’s pain.
Tip 10: Avoid taking caffeine and sugary foods and drinks before the appointment
Caffeine and sugar have the tendency of
- making you more panicky
- preventing the dental anaesthetic from working.
Thus, it’s best to hydrate yourself with water.
Tip 11: Take a painkiller before your appointment
Painkillers will help to lessen any discomfort and swelling you may feel. If you’re nervous, check with your dentist if it’s ok to take a painkiller prior to the appointment. This should be taken an hour before for it to take effect.
After the appointment, ensure that you follow the dosage instructions and continue taking the pill. (Avoid chewable tablets!)
Tip 12: After the procedure, check if any wires are poking you
Once the tightening is done, check if any wires are poking you before you leave. Your dentist will be able to do the necessary adjustments or provide dental wax to reduce any scraping.
Tip 13: Apply dental wax on wires or brackets to prevent scraping your mouth
Request for dental wax from your dentist. If you experience any scraping, apply it on your braces after brushing your teeth in the morning, and remove it before brushing at night.
It’s best to keep some dental wax in your on-the-go cleaning kit so you can reapply when needed.
Tip 14: Rinse your mouth with salt water
To reduce the pain, you can rinse your mouth with salt water for 1 minute. You can also do this with any mouthwash that your dentist recommends.
Note! This will cause some stinging, but it’s effective to accelerate healing.
When You Get Rubber Bands for Your Braces
Getting rubber bands is the final stage of your braces journey! These usually connect the top bracket to the bottom and are used to correct your jaw and bite position.
Tip 15: Remove rubber bands only when required
It’s important to be disciplined when it comes to having your rubber bands in place.
Only remove them before eating and before you brush your teeth.
Don’t take them off if your teeth are sore; you’re restarting the adjustment period and delaying the completion of your treatment.
Tip 16: Change rubber bands every day
- you change your rubber bands daily and
- you always change both sides together.
This means that if one snaps, you have to replace both sides so that the tightness is consistent.
Tip 17: How to hook your rubber bands securely on your braces
To do this, you have to look into a mirror. Stretch the rubber band using your thumb and index finger and place it on the corresponding brackets.
Tip 18: Store your rubber bands safely
Rubber bands are usually given in a small bag, so it’s important to store them safely. You can place them in a coloured box in your bathroom cabinet, and have some kept in your cleaning kit.
Removing Your Braces: How to Care for Your Teeth After Braces
Your dentist will schedule an approximate date for the removal of your braces.
During the appointment,
- pliers will be used to squeeze and remove the brackets
- a special tool will be used to remove any residue (i.e., glue, cement) on your teeth
It’s normal to hear cracking noises and feel some pressure and sensitivity.
After this, a mould of your teeth will be taken to construct your retainer.
Tip 19: Give your teeth some time to heal
After the removal, it’s advised to wait at least a month before
- eating harder, crunchy foods and
- doing teeth whitening or any treatment that may cause sensitivity.
Tip 20: Be prepared to wear retainers
A retainer (usually plastic) will be given to you. For the first 4-6 months, you’ll have to wear it for at least 20-22 hours a day, only removing it when you’re eating. Subsequently, you’ll have to wear it continually throughout the night after you brush your teeth.
Do ensure that you clean and store your retainers properly. They are usually replaced every 2 years when there’s discolouration or signs of wear.
Tip 21: Schedule regular dental visits for follow-ups
After removing your braces, you should schedule a follow-up visit a few weeks later. Thereafter, you’ll have to schedule annual appointments so your dentist can check on your teeth and dental health.
Frequently Asked Questions about Getting Braces over 50
Can I do braces if I have a dental crown?
Dental crowns are used to cover teeth that are decayed or broken beyond repair, to restore the look of your smile.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to have braces if you have crowns. The only difference is that a different adhesive will be used to attach the brackets to your crown.
If you need a dental crown but haven’t gotten it done yet, it’s best to get it only after your braces treatment is complete.
Can I do braces if I have dental veneers?
Dental veneers are usually made of porcelain or resin, used to cover imperfections on your teeth.
As long as the veneer is still in good condition, it’s possible to have braces done. Your dentist will likely attach the bracket to the neighbouring teeth instead of the veneer itself.
Alternatively, you can also opt for Invisalign.
Can I do braces if I have dental implants?
The ideal situation is that you get a dental implant after braces since a spacing can be left for it.
Or, if your teeth are overcrowded, braces treatment can be used to shift your remaining teeth to fill up the gap.