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What You Need to Know About Braces Tightening

What You Need to Know About Braces Tightening

Adjusting Your Braces for a Straighter Smile

February 7, 2023
7 min read

Part of the process of having braces is having your braces periodically adjusted or “tightened.” Braces tightening is necessary in order for your braces to work properly and to help achieve the perfect smile. Learn more about this procedure and find out how often your braces need to be tightened.

What is Braces Tightening?

Braces tightening is a process that involves making small changes to the brackets attached to your teeth. During the procedure, your orthodontist will use elastics or other tools to increase the tension on the brackets and move them into position. They’ll often use specific instruments to open or close certain areas of the braces. In some cases, a small wire might need to be replaced in order for it to fit properly. After each correction, your orthodontist will evaluate your progress in achieving a straighter smile!

Why are braces tightening necessary?

Braces tightening is an essential step in the process of wearing braces due to the nature of how braces mechanically work. Braces are applied in a single appointment. When the wire is first applied, it exerts a lot of pressure on the teeth, but as time passes by, that pressure gradually decreases which means regular brace tightening is necessary to ensure the same force stays on them. Orthodontists follow a step-by-step process to make sure braces are properly tightened to help you achieve better results.

How Often Does Braces Tightening Need to Be Done?

The frequency of tightening depends on the movement needed within the next treatment interval. This interval is determined on an appointment-by-appointment basis. Generally, braces need to be monitored once every four to six weeks. When placing or removing braces, or adding adjunct appliances, the interval could be a couple days or a week, depending on what is required. This will be part of the plan your orthodontist, Dr. Skarin, will discuss with you, but you need to be flexible as no treatment can be planned accurately as tooth movement and patient compliance will differ and are not entirely predictable.

Generally, braces need to be tightened once every four to six weeks. During each appointment, the patient’s braces are adjusted to gradually move the teeth toward the desired position. it is important to Dr. Skarin to monitor the ongoing movement and re-evaluate the progress every four to six weeks as the maximum length between appointments as damage to the braces can occur without the patient’s knowledge and change the positions of some teeth inadvertently. Lengthening treatment time beyond six weeks is discouraged as this can create problems more difficult to correct.

Your orthodontist, Dr. Skarin, will discuss with you a plan for when adjustments should take place based on individual needs. He may customize a schedule or make suggestions as to how often get your braces adjusted if you aren't seeing them regularly enough.

Braces Tightening Frequency For Skarin System

The frequency of tightening also depends on the type of braces and how much movement is needed. For some of our fixed appliances, such as Skarin System technology, the interval between braces tightening appointments can be greater as our appliance can continue to place light continuous pressure on the teeth for longer than any other appliances.

What Does the Braces Tightening Process Involve?

When you arrive for your braces tightening appointment, Dr. Skarin will evaluate the patient’s level of hygiene and address any problems he sees. He will next look for any breakage or inadvertently bent wires, and then evaluate the occlusion or bite for progress expected to have been made from the last appointment.

The next step is to determine if the corse of action needs to continue and how it will be done. Each appointment is a true re-assessment, not just a step in a pre-determined regimen of archwires that assistants can follow. Once the determination is made on the next step, Dr. Skarin will adjust the arch wires to create more appropriate light, continuous force levels for the required tooth movement.

The appointment typically takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on what adjustments to the appliance are needed to create the desired movement. Afterwards, you will asked if there is anything that might be bothering you, so appropriate adjustments can be made to avoid the inconvenience to the patient and family of returning at a later time.

Are there any precautions I should take for getting my braces tightened?

No additional precautions are needed than what you would normally do when progressing through your braces treatment. All of the dos and don’ts and precautions regarding how to eat will have been discussed at your consultation and reminded at the initial starting appointment, and your oral hygiene regimen was reviewed in detail. It is also not only appreciated by Dr. Skarin, but should be important to the patient as well, that the teeth have been brushed well before the appointment, although, there can be unavoidable exceptions and a session at the toothbrushing area of the office will be made available.

Some reminders of precautions that should be taken at all times with braces include the avoidance of hard or sticky foods and orthodontic mouthguards when engaging in any contact sports, as this will help protect your teeth and braces from damage. Dr. Skarin provides appropriate mouthguards at no cost, although you might prefer other orthodontic mouthguards if your teammates desire to coordinate. Lastly, be sure to wear a mouthguard when engaging in any contact sports, as this will help protect your teeth and braces from damage.

Is there pain post braces tightening?

Is there pain when you tighten your braces? There can be, but that depends largely on the appliance you choose. Skarin System applies forces in a completely different way than normal braces, so most of our patients claim they do not feel any pain whatsoever. This is due to the fact that we can apply a light, continuous force on the teeth, so even when we have to make adjustments, the pressure is still not enough for patients to report pain.

With regular braces, the level of discomfort and pain experienced after having your braces tightened can differ from person to person and depending on the philosophy each orthodontist has. For Dr. Skarin comfort is at a premium, which means he may suggest using less forces applied to the teeth at the beginning stages of braces in order to reduce initial discomfort. Generally, most people experience minimal levels of pain that goes away within a few days while some people report no pain at all.

What Should I Avoid Doing While my Braces Are Being Tightened?

While it is normal to experience some discomfort when your braces are being tightened, there are a few things you can do to make the process more comfortable. Avoid eating hard or sticky foods on the day of or just before your appointment. It is also important to keep your mouth as clean as possible by brushing and flossing throughout the day. Finally, try to avoid activities like contact sports, grinding teeth and biting nails which could put extra pressure on your braces and cause further discomfort.

Who should I contact if I have any questions about braces tightening appointments?

If you have any concerns or questions about your braces tightening appointment, always feel free to contact us at our Naperville (630-369-0045) or Yorkville (630-553-5227) office. We would be more than happy to discuss any and all of your worries and help answer any questions that you may have.

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