Fixed braces

Fixed braces are often referred to as 'train track' braces. The orthodontist attaches metal or tooth-coloured brackets - small blocks - to the teeth and then runs a special wire over the brackets to pull the teeth into the right position. Because the brackets are stuck to the teeth, you won't be able to take the brace off during your treatment.

When the brace is first fitted, it may feel strange and possibly uncomfortable. Because the brackets are raised, they may rub against the inside of your lips or cheeks. Your orthodontist will give you some special wax to prevent this rubbing which should make it more comfortable. You may also find that, for the first few days, your jaw aches because of the pressure of the brace. If this is the case, you may find a painkiller helps - the sort of thing you might take for a headache will be fine. If the discomfort lasts longer than a few days, though, you may wish to go back to your orthodontist, who can then readjust the brace.

Although you'll still be able to eat most of the foods you were eating before, you will need to take care not to damage your brace. There are some foods that you'll need to cut out altogether though:

  • Toffees
  • Chewy sweets, like marshmallows and Turkish Delight
  • Hard foods, like crusty bread

With other foods, like apples, you might need to cut them up, but you'll still be able to eat them.

Because your brace provides food with more places to hide, you'll need to be extra careful with your hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is essential, and you may also find using a fluoride mouthwash last thing at night is helpful to protect your teeth while you sleep. If you don't look after your teeth while you're wearing your brace, they may become permanently stained.

As well as the brace itself, your orthodontist may attach elastic bands to it to increase the pressure on certain teeth. Some brace wearers customise their braces with coloured elastics.

Once the brace is taken off, you will need to wear a retainer brace, which is removable.

See a 3D Model of how fixed braces work at the BDA's 3D Mouth website

British Dental Association