Decades ago, children who got braces for straightening their teeth were subject to teasing, with names like “metal mouth” or “brace face” thrown around. Although braces have become normalized over the years and orthodontic technology has come a long way, lingering misinformation about braces still makes some nervous about orthodontic appliances. Here are five common misconceptions about braces that need straightening out before you straighten out your teeth.

Braces Are Metal

While braces have traditionally been made of metal, many other contemporary options available today make braces much less visible.

  • Ceramic braces: clear and less noticeable than traditional braces, ceramic braces blend in with your natural teeth.
  • Lingual braces: completely hidden from view, lingual braces are attached to the back of your teeth instead of the front.
  • Clear braces: great for those who want an invisible straightening technique; the use of clear trays makes it hard to see anything on your teeth.

Braces Are for Kids

When you think about braces, you probably envision them on adolescents or teenagers. While many teens get braces to fix their teeth, orthodontic treatment is not limited to youngsters. With the advent of more subtle correction techniques, adults are increasingly using orthodontics to straighten their smiles. Some adults may not have had the money or opportunity to get braces in their youth. Others may have had braces once, but their teeth shifting over time has led to the need for additional straightening.

Braces Are Painful

The idea of having metal installed in your mouth sounds like it hurts, but the application of braces is a painless procedure. Some people may experience discomfort when braces are first applied and adjusted at follow-up visits. Your teeth may become a bit sore as they begin shifting. In addition, the metal brackets can sometimes feel abrasive on the inside of your mouth, or occasionally a wire can come loose and poke you uncomfortably. However, the braces themselves are not painful despite these examples of minor discomfort.

Braces Limit Your Activities

If you have heard that you must avoid certain activities or foods when you have braces, you were probably misinformed. Here are some myths about limited activities.

  • Myth: you can’t play a wind instrument with braces. You can; it just requires a bit of adjustment and practice. 
  • Myth: you can’t play sports with braces. You can play any sport you choose with braces. Some sports that require close contact, like wrestling, may require a mouthguard for protection.
  • Myth: you have to change your diet when you have braces. This is not true, although some foods are more difficult to eat than others. The one exception is sticky foods, like caramel, which can cause a problem as they can easily attach to braces.
  • Myth: if you have braces and kiss someone else with braces, they will lock up. While this may be remotely possible, it is highly unlikely!

Braces Are Purely Cosmetic

Most people believe that braces only serve to improve the look of your smile. However, braces are used for much more than that. They can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. When your teeth are crowded, it’s often difficult to reach the surface areas of all the teeth in your mouth. When braces have completed the straightening process, you will better be able to brush the hard-to-reach spots. Braces also serve to correct an uneven bite, which can make it easier to eat certain foods and prevent the grinding of your teeth.

Now that you understand the misconceptions surrounding braces, you can look into orthodontics with confidence and better understand the benefits of straightening your teeth.