Braces are super common in America, with some sources estimating that nearly 4 million people have braces at any one time. But cavities are also unfortunately common, with millions of Americans being affected by cavities every year.
If you’re one of the unlucky folks to get one or more cavities because of your diet or because you’re using a manual toothbrush instead of an electric one, can you still get braces? Even more importantly, should you get braces with cavities?
Today, let’s break down both of these questions and more!
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are essentially areas of your teeth where bacteria have chewed through the enamel – the superhard layer of protective calcium and other minerals that protect the dentin of your teeth – and started to multiply. A cavity isn’t a rotten tooth yet, but it is the first step toward a tooth loss and further tooth decay.
If you are not taking care or if you don’t undergo a cavity treatment, they could eventually develop into more serious tooth decay, gum disease and other infections. When this happens, your teeth can become brittle, painful, and you may need other dental procedures like a root canal.
Normally, your dentist will detect any cavities during one of your regular appointments. Then they can perform a basic filling procedure to drill away the infected tooth structure and fill in the gap with a durable resin. For many reasons, most people should be free of cavities prior to putting on their metal braces or ceramic ones. However, things become a little more complicated when you consider getting them.
How Braces Affect Teeth
Braces, of course, pull on your teeth firmly and consistently over months or years. When set up correctly, braces can realign your jaw and/or teeth and give you a more beautiful smile. Plus, braces can provide other dental benefits, such as:
- Removing an underbite or overbite
- Fixing jaw pain or fatigue
- Fixing tooth positions that lead you to cut your tongue regularly
- Making it easier to floss between your teeth
- And more
That said, braces are definitely a little hard on your teeth! For most braces setups, individual metal braces made or ceramic braces are placed on most or all of your teeth. If a brace is set up on a tooth with a cavity, it could cause too much stress or pain to be comfortable.
So, Should You Get Braces if You Have Cavities?
Ultimately, it’s still a good idea to get braces if you have one or more tooth issues you need to be corrected through these procedures. Braces are very common and can be applied by trained dental team in your area.
However, it’s never a good idea to get braces if you currently have cavities (unless your dentist only plans to do braces on unaffected teeth – for example, if you have cavities on a few bottom teeth, but the braces are only needed on the top teeth, you can go ahead with your orthodontic treatment).
Instead, it’s a much better idea to have your cavities treated properly and fill in the gaps before getting braces installed. When you do this, you’ll strengthen individual teeth that may have been weakened by cavities and make your braces much more likely to be successful and comfortable.
Plus, you won’t have to deal with extra discomfort and you won’t run the risk of the cavities spreading to other teeth during your braces cavity treatment.
What if You Have Cavities and Get Braces?
If you currently have cavities and get braces, you could run into a number of harmful side effects. These include:
- Broken teeth. If braces are installed on a tooth with a large cavity, they might cause so much pressure or stress to the tooth that it cracks or breaks over time. In some cases, this might require you to remove the tooth and get a replacement
- Pain and discomfort. Cavities are never comfortable, but many people are able to get by before their filling appointments by avoiding putting pressure on the affected teeth. When you have braces, your teeth are always under pressure, so any teeth with cavities will be doubly uncomfortable
- Possible bad results from the braces. In some cases, cavities could change how the braces affect your smile and may even make the braces and effective overall. Given that braces can be pretty expensive and take a long time no matter what, this is the worst outcome overall; it might mean you need to get braces for even longer to undo the damage that cavities cause
Simply put, you should always get any cavities filled in, and have any other major dental treatments completed, before your braces are installed.
On top of all the above negative side effects, braces take quite a while to remove. So if your dentist needs to complete a cavity filling or root canal, for example, it will take extra time (and likely cost you extra money) for them to remove your braces before completing an orthodontic treatment.metal
What if You Get a Cavity After Getting Braces?
Everyone gets cavities from time to time, and your odds of getting a cavity are much higher if you have braces since it’s harder to floss thoroughly in between your teeth. But if you get a cavity while you have braces, you still need to take orthodontic care of that issue ASAP.
In many cases, your orthodontist can work with your general dentist to remove the braces and fill in the cavity quickly, then get back to your regular braces treatment. In other cases, the cavity in question might be in an accessible enough position that the braces don’t need to be removed whatsoever.
But even with that possibility, keep in mind that most people with braces get regular dental care throughout their orthodontic treatment. So long as you get your braces cleaned properly on a regular basis, you may not have to worry about getting a cavity while your braces are still on at all!
All in all, if you get a cavity while you have braces, don’t worry; your dentist and/or orthodontist can take care of the issue one way or another.
Can You Get Braces if You Have Fillings?
Absolutely! In fact, the majority of people who get braces have at least one filling, as cavities are fairly common with today’s sugar-heavy diets. You can still get braces if you have dental fillings because the dental fillings should restore the integrity of teeth affected by those tooth cavities.
Before you get braces installed, your orthodontist will take x-rays to determine the best placement of the braces and make sure that their braces plan makes sense. So they’ll be able to see what kinds of fillings, if any, you have before placing the first braces and wires on your teeth.
However, you’ll still need to have good oral hygiene after you get braces and after you get fillings. Specifically, your dentist will probably recommend that you use an electric toothbrush like Dr. Brite’s Sonic Toothbrush, which uses a sonic powered motor. It’s a waterproof, 4-mode toothbrush machine that can clear away the majority of food particles, plaque and bacteria even if you have braces.
Will Braces Still Work on Teeth that Have Had Cavities?
Yes, provided the teeth have been treated properly with fillings.
Remember, fillings (which are made of either metal, ceramic, or special resin materials) are designed to fix up your teeth and make them just as strong, if not even stronger, than before. Even better, fillings prevent bacteria from causing a cavity in the same place because the filling material is synthetic rather than organic. There’s nothing for the bacteria to chew through!
As a result, braces absolutely work on teeth that have had cavities so long as the fillings were installed correctly. The excess pressure from the braces shouldn’t be too hard on your teeth, even if those teeth have had one or more cavities.
However, your orthodontist may recommend an alternative orthodontic treatment if your teeth have had multiple cavities in the past. This isn’t because the braces wouldn’t work. They might recommend another orthodontic treatment since they want to avoid more cavities from cropping up in the future.
Bottom line: you can get braces if you have had a decayed tooth before, but your individual orthodontic treatment plan may vary
In the end, getting a cavity is never fun, but it’s even worse if you are unlucky enough to get one or more cavities while you have braces! But even if you draw the short end of the dental health stick, don’t worry too much. The dental office you go to will be able to do an excellent job of tackling any cavities, even if you have braces, and get you back to your orthodontic treatment ASAP.
Of course, you can do your part to lower the likelihood of getting a cavity while you have braces if you practice an excellent oral health routine and use healthy products, like Anti-Plaque Toothpaste from Dr. Brite. Following a good oral hygiene routine and only using high-quality products, like electric toothbrushes and fluoride-infused toothpaste, can go a long way toward ensuring you never need to worry about cavities and braces at all!
Check out our other oral health offerings at our online store today.