Will my braces be removed once the extraction gaps have closed?
I'm currently on braces for around 7 months. My orthodontist doesn't do much adjustments at my recent appointments, unlike in the past appointments where my wires will be changed. I am just curious, will my braces be removed once the extraction gaps close? Or is there more to it?
Typically, braces treatment come in 4 phases. In the first phase, we align crooked teeth and make them straight. In this phase, there are usually frequent changes of wires as what you have noticed. Following that (second phase), we will start to close spaces in the desired manner to achieve a good bite and teeth position.
We often stay on the same wire during this phase of treatment which is what you are experiencing now. After all the spaces are closed, normally, we will assess and fine tune the position and angulation of teeth (third phase). Often, this phase can be done concurrently with space closure.
Therefore, after all the spaces are closed, orthodontists usually will take x-rays to assess the position of the roots of the teeth and adjusted tilted teeth accordingly. We will also check for this clinically and achieve the best possible bite and teeth position for the patient.
If the position of teeth is ideal, braces could then be removed and patient be placed on retainers to maintain the position of teeth (final retention phase). Retention phase is as important as the braces treatment itself as our oral environment is dynamic. Talking, eating, swallowing and even mouth breathing can cause pressure on teeth resulting in tooth movement. We often advice our patients to wear retainers full time in the first 6 months after braces treatment before changing to night time wear of retainers.
I hope this give you a clearer understanding of your treatment.
Dr Enrica Sham
Usually, braces will not be removed immediately after the gaps are closed.
Your orthodontist will check that the upper and lower teeth are fitting well and biting evenly, and also take an X-ray to check the position of the roots of your teeth, before making the necessary adjustments.
Hope this answers your question!
To add to Dr Enrica’s excellent and detailed answer, it’s also important to understand that just because the gaps are closed and the teeth look straight, it doesn’t mean your braces are complete!
It’s important to stay the course and let your orthodontist finish your case, to ensure that your teeth bite together (interdigitate) evenly and in a balanced manner.
This helps to ensure that you’ll have a healthy, stable smile in long term. So do be patient (pun not intended), it’ll take awhile but a good result, with proper retention, will last your whole life!
All the best,