orthodontic treatment

What you need to know about braces

Written by Luke Whitaker

The right smile can change your life, and sometimes you have to get orthodontic treatment to achieve that. There is perhaps however a stigma surrounding braces and this kind of dental procedure, but the team at Exeter Advanced Dentistry are on hand to help you understand the process and share with you exactly what you need to know about braces. 

When should you get braces?

There really is no bad time to get braces. Orthodontic treatments are not limited to young people, with more and more adults getting procedures done to straighten their smile. Are you looking to get braces yourself, or are you looking for someone under your care? Information varies regarding when is the best time to get braces, but generally it is good to get an assessment done by your local dentist when a young person is around seven years of age. Then, typically, the best time to have braces fitted is between the ages of 12 and 13, when the mouth and jaw is still growing. 


As an adult your likelihood of improvement is limited much more so than with a young person, but that is certainly not to say that you can make some significant changes. Such is the way with modern medicine that dentistry has changed a great deal over the decades, meaning that many adults did not receive the same level of dental care offered to young people these days. This means that over recent years adult braces have become increasingly common, which is no surprise given that they can reinvigorate your life and give you a fresh sense of confidence that you were perhaps missing. 


Do I need braces? 


Quite often you can tell if you need braces or not, but sometimes there are subtle things you may miss out on. Perhaps you have a generally straight smile, but you might have one or two teeth out of line, or you have noticed some changes recently. If you are still not sure if you need braces or not, head to a mirror and take a look to see if you have any of the following issues.



Overbites can be quite noticeable, particularly if you are self conscious about your mouth and teeth. However, as with anything, some people are able to rock their individuality and embrace it. You can identify an overbite by seeing that your upper front teeth ‘excessively’ overlap your bottom set teeth.




Naturally, an underbite is the opposite of an overbite. As you have probably already guessed, underbites occur when your upper front teeth sit behind your lower front teeth. You may be making do with your underbite and accepting it as a part of you, which is great, but they can lead to further health problems. Typically caused by disproportionate jaw sizes, people with an underbite likely experience issues chewing or biting, and can also cause imbalance to your facial appearance. 


Gapping or Spacing 


Gaps between teeth did become something of a fashion statement a few years ago, but not everyone is so open and confident about theirs. If you suffer from large gaps between your teeth you may have a larger than normal jaw, or, could be missing a tooth. 



Considered the most common condition in the field of orthodontics, crowding as expected is the opposite of gapping or spacing. Your mouth simply does not have enough space for your teeth to grow straight. As mentioned, this is a common issue and a leading reason why children get braces. However, as time goes on crowding tends to get worse, meaning it may become a recurring issue for young people, or, as an adult, you may be experiencing some serious overcrowding issues.  




One issue which really cannot be ignored is a crossbite. These can be distinguished by noticing an upper tooth crossing behind a lower opposing tooth, and without care and attention can lead to issues like asymmetric jaw growth. 


Open Bite


A cause of some speech and biting issues, you can tell if you have an open bite by seeing whether your teeth touch or not when you bite down. 


So, if you experience any of the conditions mentioned above, you should look at having some orthodontic treatment done as soon as possible. There are more ways to notice whether you need braces or not, and they include: 


  • Difficulty flossing between teeth
  • Difficulty brushing certain teeth adequately 
  • Frequently biting your tongue
  • It is a challenge pronouncing words
  • Clicking or noticeably loud jaw noises
  • Jaw stress or fatigue when eating, chewing, or talking


What types of braces are there?

At Exeter Advanced Dentistry, we are fortunate to have our orthodontic specialist on hand to offer a variety of orthodontic treatments. Let us run you through the different types of braces you could get. 


Clear Fixed Braces


One main concern people have when being faced with the prospect of getting braces is how they will look. Clear fixed braces however, are a more modern alternative to traditional metal braces which people are more commonly used to. Made with translucent brackets as opposed to the older metal ones, the brackets are bonded to the front of your teeth in a much more subtle and ‘barely there’ appearance. This version of braces is able to predictably correct the more complex crowding issues, often in the shortest amount of time. 


Lingual Braces


Smile with confidence with some lingual braces. Fitted to the back of your teeth, you no longer have to feel shy or self conscious about your smile, knowing that you are getting the best treatment without the impact on your appearance. If you are looking at getting adult braces, we have found that the lingual option is often the most popular choice. 




Perhaps a step further than lingual braces, Invisalign is a great way to straighten your teeth to produce the perfect smile, without the need for any wiring. Considered to be more comfortable and discreet than fixed braces, teeth are straightened with a series of removable ‘aligners’, which are clear and custom made trays to be worn throughout the day. Invisalign must be worn for 22 hours a day, but can be removed whilst you eat.

Rapid Orthodontic Treatments


Sometimes you may only be struggling with a smaller orthodontic issue. This is where Exeter Advanced Dentistry’s rapid orthodontic treatments come in. If you were for example experiencing a minor crowding issue, it may be possible to to provide shorter courses of orthodontic treatment to help realign your teeth thanks to cosmetic fixed braces or invisible/lingual braces. 

Do braces hurt?


Asking whether braces hurt is perhaps one of the most common questions posed to orthodontists. As with everything, different people will have different experiences when getting braces. Most will experience some form of mild discomfort or pain especially when they first get braces, or when they have been tightened. This pain will go away in a few days, but there are a number of ways in which you can ease the pain: 


  • Maintain thorough cleaning of your teeth in between your braces 
  • Using over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen where appropriate
  • Rinse with warm saltwater
  • Having topical anesthetics applied to your gums
  • The possibility of soft wax being applied to your braces to prevent any cuts

What can you not eat or drink when you have braces


Of course, braces have improved significantly in recent years, allowing you much more freedom than you may have previously been given. That being said, there are still a number of foods and drinks which should be avoided when you have braces. As a general rule, try to avoid any food which is particularly tough or hard, sticky, and chewy. Here is a general list of things you can not eat or drink when you have braces:


  • Gum
  • Raw vegetables
  • Tough bread
  • Tough meat
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chocolate
  • Hard (or sticky) sweets
  • Nuts



  • Fizzy, or carbonated drinks
  • Drinks with high sugar content
  • Tea and coffee, in moderation
  • Natural fruit juice
  • Energy drinks


So, if you are considering orthodontic treatment, contact Exeter Advanced Dentistry to have a discussion with our specialist orthodontist, Ben Buffham, today. Ben has limited his practice to orthodontics since 2001, and has been recognised as a registered specialist by the General Dental Council since 2003. Speak to us today about scheduling your free consultation to help you understand what procedure is best for you.


Image Credit: Atikah Akhtar

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