As fun and exciting as Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics is, I know most patients want to breeze through treatment because they’re excited to see their brand new smile. Thankfully, with cutting-edge treatment planning and the advanced teeth-straightening options available today, the time patients spend in braces or Invisalign is a lot shorter. If you’re wondering how to get braces off faster or finish Invisalign sooner, here are four ways you can do just that:
Protect Your Appliance – If you wear braces, this tip is especially important for you. Damaging your hardware can set back your orthodontic treatment time. Stay away from hard, sticky or really chewy foods like caramel, toffee, nuts and anything that could break your brackets or wires. Don’t bite directly into food with your front teeth and cut things like raw apples, carrots (pre-cut waffle style instead of baby carrots are easier) and tough breads/pizza into small, bite-sized pieces.
Another important step is to always wear a mouthguard when you’re playing sports or doing an activity where you could get hit in the mouth. This will protect your braces, as well as your teeth, cheeks, lips and tongue. Losing a tooth during treatment due to a sports injury will likely change your treatment plan (they’re all custom and tailored to your diagnosis) and potentially draw it out regardless of if you’re in braces, Invisalign or Invisalign Teen. While warding off damaged appliances isn’t necessarily going to make braces treatment go faster, it will prevent it from veering off course and help you finish on time.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene – No list of tips for how to get braces off faster or cut down your Invisalign treatment time would be complete without a mention of practicing good oral hygiene. How amazing your smile looks after your braces or invisalign is done depends on how straight your teeth are, how we’ve designed your smile for you, and how clean you’ve kept your teeth throughout the entire treatment. Teeth move more quickly, predictably and effectively in a healthy mouth. Additionally, issues like cavities can mean more appointments and, in severe cases, it could be necessary for you to get your braces removed for dental work, which will really tack on time to your treatment plan.
Braces patients should floss at least once daily using a floss threader or orthodontic flosser and brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the morning, before bed and after meals and snacks. We’ve also found that waterpiks and oral irrigators do wonders under the wire. A fluoride mouthwash can be beneficial too. If you’re wearing Invisalign, floss once a day and brush in the morning and at night. Take your aligners out before eating or drinking anything aside from water and brush your teeth before putting them back in. Whichever treatment option you choose, it’s so important to continue to see your general dentist for check-ups and cleanings according to his or her recommendations – usually, it’s twice a year, but it could be more if you’re prone to cavities or if home care is a concern. Tip: The day-to-day care of your teeth and braces accounts for over 90% of your dental care.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions – Participation is the key to finishing your braces or Invisalign treatment on time. Invisalign aligners aren’t bonded to your teeth like braces are, which means, it’s entirely up to you to wear them for the recommended number of hours each day (22 hours a day will keep the braces away!) and change them according to schedule. Remember, the goal with your aligners is to have them fit your teeth like spandex or a baby Gap shirt. Your daily bite squeeze and hold exercises are important to make that happen and will massage your aligners over your teeth and attachments. Another great tip is to massage and roll the aligner over the attachment like you’re trying to snap a lid on a Starbucks cup every time you put your aligners on. The aim is to help the clear aligner fit as close to the teeth as possible. If you do that, things will run smoothly. However, if you don’t, you can really prolong your treatment time in aligners.
Just because you’re wearing braces doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to sticking to the plan either. It’s important to come in for all of your appointments and wear any extra appliances like rubber bands as directed. If you don’t get your adjustments or put in your rubber bands, your teeth won’t be receiving the right amount of force to shift into place efficiently. There’s a common myth that the wires and rubber bands do the same thing…they don’t. While wires can help to work on crowding and rotations, the rubber bands help to improve your bite so that your teeth end up in a more stable place. Inconsistent appliance and rubber band wear is the number one reason treatment goes over time.
In my experience, if you’re having trouble with your rubber bands there are two reasons: 1) you “don’t wear them because they hurt”, or 2) it could be because you don’t have a system or routine for yourself that works. Trust that your body will figure out the discomfort, just like it did for your wires. Tooth movement can be sore, and it will get better as long as the forces on your teeth are consistent. Rubber bands will feel like the first day you got your braces on, and the discomfort can be controlled with Tylenol or Ibuprofen. The key is to get over the first few days with consistent wear and the discomfort will go away.
Here are a few things that can help with remembering your rubber bands:
- Use your technology to set reminders or alarms for yourself. You know your schedule the best; set the reminders for after your meals, and particularly the times you know you forget the most.
- Use visual reminders often and keep them visible at the times you often forget. This can be as simple as putting a bag of rubber bands in your lunch bag, pencil bag/case or hole punching it and clipping into your first period or post-lunch period binder.
- Go old school! When you take your rubber bands off, place one around your pinky and when you’re done your meal, place new rubber bands in and throw away the old ones. Will your pinky turn blue? Probably. Will you remember to put your rubber bands back in? Most likely.
- It’s not always easy to go it alone. If you have a friend who you spend a lot of time with, ask them to help remind you. It’s like that Beatles’ song, “we get by with a little help from our friends.”
Consider Accelerated Treatment like AcceleDent® – Some practices offer accelerated treatment options, such as AcceleDent or VPro5. In fact, at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, I’m an El Dorado Hills AcceleDent and VPro5 provider. The portable, lightweight device can be used with Invisalign to reduce treatment time by 38% to 50%.
So, what is AcceleDent Aura or Vpro5? They are both FDA-approved, hands-free appliances that rely on low frequency and high-frequency vibration, respectively, to speed up tooth movement. How does it work? Well, we talked above about the bite squeeze and hold chewie exercises above, and they act like a turbo chewie. Think of it as an aligner seater that will help your aligners sit tighter on your teeth. They’re completely painless and actually doesn’t just lead to fast braces or Invisalign, but have also been clinically proven to make treatment more comfortable. The device consists of an activator and a mouthpiece. You simply bite down on the mouthpiece while it generates gentle vibrations. Since you hold it in place by chomping down and don’t need to use your hands, you can surf the Internet or do your homework during a session. Use it for just 20 minutes per day and see results in less time.
How to get braces off faster or finish Invisalign sooner boils down to committing to your treatment and keeping your smile healthy during the process. If you really want to speed things up, you can also add an accelerated option like AcceleDent or VPro5 to the mix if you’re a good candidate for it. To learn more about braces and Invisalign in El Dorado Hills, CA, book a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today!