The length of time that you might wear braces varies depending on the severity of your dental problems, but most people wear them for one to three years. Sometimes your orthodontist may recommend additional orthodontic treatments, such as elastic bands and orthodontic headgear, but these items are not always used for the full length of time that you wear the braces.
Braces consist of a strategic array of brackets and wires designed to place gentle but steady pressure on the teeth and shift their positions gradually. Some additional orthodontic treatments involves placing small springs between brackets to help adjust spaces between teeth, and small elastic bands are sometimes worn between the top and bottom teeth.
Headgear, also known as facebow headgear, is another device that your dentist may recommend to help correct a misaligned bite. Your dentist may prescribe headgear for a short time (often only for nighttime wear) to create more space for crowded teeth by moving the molars further back in the mouth.
Headgear consists of two parts—a horseshoe-shaped metal piece that fits inside the mouth, and an outer bow-shaped piece that goes around the outside of the face and attaches to a strap. The piece inside the mouth attaches to bands (called buccal bands) on the brackets of the farthest molars on the upper teeth.
Knowing how to brush your teeth with braces is especially important if your orthodontia includes springs, rubber bands, or headgear, because there are more devices in your mouth to trap food particles and transfer bacteria. To clean around orthodontic appliances, brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush and floss using a floss threader or a specialized floss with a stiff end, such as Oral-B’s Super Floss.