When you first get your braces, you will usually start with a very light and flexible wire. In your hands, this wire feels incredibly delicate and thin but once attached to some brackets, produces some amazing results really quickly. This first phase of your treatment usually involves some leveling of the teeth and the gentle forces produced by this initial wire lines up the brackets pretty quickly.
When first fitted, the wire can be quite distorted as it goes up and down and in and out to line up with the slot in each bracket and many patients report that they only got to appreciate just how bad their teeth were once they started treatment. This is, of course, an illusion accentuated by the brackets and wires but can also provide patients with the motivation that they are doing the right thing and starting orthodontic treatment.
This initial wire very quickly starts to line up the teeth and before very long the wire starts to straighten and the teeth start to line up. Thereafter, successively thicker and stiffer wires are used to further straighten the teeth but by this point, the wire is relatively straight and with it, you get the impression your teeth are straight too.
The motivation to keep taking selfies showcasing the huge progress you are making starts to diminish and you end up looking in the mirror staring at a straight wire wondering whether you have achieved a miracle in just a few months and your orthodontist is just keeping you in braces to keep you coming back to justify the cost! Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the initial leveling has been accomplished, further wires and elastics are slowly working to produce more complex tooth movements and space closures, many of which are really difficult to see unless you know what you are looking for.
In my experience, it was at this stage that I started to feel the progress rather than seeing it. When biting into a piece of cheese, for example, I was seeing my bite improving each month and where my back teeth were meeting, chewing was becoming easier validating the huge progress that was being made.
It’s easy to lose sight of the end objective when each time you look in the mirror you see what appears to be no progress and this is where excellent communication between the patient and the orthodontic team comes into play. At each appointment, ask what is happening and what movement you expect to have over the coming months, you might be surprised at just how complex your case is and just how much is going on to give you that perfect smile.