Braces Are a Big Step
CONGRATULATIONS on starting your journey to a spectacular smile! Life with braces can be quite a lifestyle change. Fortunately, most patients, regardless of their ages, are quite adaptive to such a change.
We are here to help you make your adjustment as easy as possible.
Discomfort: Do Braces Hurt?
Many patients avoid or postpone orthodontics treatment because they have heard that “braces hurt.” Whether wearing braces or Invisalign aligners, you’ll very likely experience some soreness, and your teeth may feel tender when biting, usually just during the first couple of days right after your orthodontic visit.
It's normal for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces immediately after you have braces put on. The braces need to apply pressure in order to straighten your smile, so your teeth, gums, lips, and tongue all need time to get used to the new sensations.
The good news is after you get used to wearing braces or aligners, there is not much pain or discomfort.
Braces Pain Relief Tips
There are a few remedies and tips for relief from the temporary pain related to braces:
- You can take over-the-counter pain medicines, preferably Tylenol, as it doesn't slow down tooth movement. If you can't take Tylenol, Ibuprofen is ok.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water a couple of time during the first several days. Swish and gargle warm salt water in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).
- You can place some orthodontic wax over the braces or any poking spot to lessen the tenderness. Wax is provided to our newly bonded patients at their bonding appointment. If you need some wax, please let us know.
- Apply Orajel, an oral anesthetic (included in our bonding care kit), directly to the sensitive teeth and gums. Oral anesthetics desensitize your teeth and gums so you don’t feel the discomfort of shifting teeth so acutely.
- Apply an ice pack. Cold temperatures can reduce inflammation and numb the mouth so you don’t feel the pain.
Make sure you brush, floss, and use mouthwash to ensure that you get rid of all the food particles leftover from when you eat. Food will get stuck on the brackets and wires, which can cause more pain due to the fit of the braces.
Is It Normal For Teeth To Feel Loose?
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose after you first get braces, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore.
Braces Care & Maintenance
Most patients will need to wear fixed braces for around 18 to 24 months. Keeping your teeth clean is of paramount importance during your orthodontic treatment. Don’t let bad oral hygiene compromise your ultimate beautiful smile!
Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria can grow.
If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you get to a toothbrush.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
- Braces wear toothbrushes out quickly, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
- Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth.
- Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
- Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.
Eating With Braces
Eating with braces, or having to give up certain foods during orthodontic treatment, is often considered a right of passage for many tweens and teens. With braces, you can still enjoy many of your favorite foods with some special consideration in mind. Avoid hard, sticky or chewy foods. Make friends with softer foods, especially right after your orthodontic visit.
Remember, taking good care of your braces and wires without damaging them will help you stay on track, which means you will finish your treatment on time (or even earlier).
Foods You Can Eat Safely With Braces
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Foods to Avoid During Orthodontic Treatments
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots (need to cut them into small pieces first)
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of to keep your braces functioning perfectly. Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces. Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
What Drinks Should I Avoid When I Get Braces?
Whether you have braces or aligners, water and milk are the best choices for your teeth. Beverages like coffee, and tea (and red wine for our adult patients) can stain teeth.
Avoid sugar-containing and carbonated drinks, such as soda, sport/ energy drinks, flavored bubbly water, juice, etc. These drinks contain acids and/or sugar that dissolve tooth enamel and lead to “white spots” and cavities!
It's best to brush right away after drinking. If brushing is not possible, rinse thoroughly with water.
Emergency Orthodontic Care
True orthodontic emergencies are very rare. Most problems, such as poking wire and loose bracket, can be temporarily remedied at home, so your busy schedules won’t be interrupted.
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
If you notice a loose bracket or band and it is still attached to the wire, just place wax on it for stability. If it is detached from the wire, save it in a ziplock bag. Call us to schedule a repair appointment if your next appointment is more than two weeks away or if it still causes unbearable irritation.
If you notice the wire is loose, try to put the loose wire back into place using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax over the loose wire. Schedule a repair appointment so we can have it fixed.
Misplaced Wires, Brackets, or Tie
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaced wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of only masking the symptoms at home.
Orthodontics Tips for Athletes
Many parents worry about their children playing sports while wearing braces. If a child with braces gets a mouth injury on the field or on the court, the concern is that the braces could make the injury worse, and/or your child’s progress with the braces could be impeded. You can still play active sports with braces. It’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and appliance. We are here to help you find the right mouthguard for the best protection.
In case of a sports emergency, immediately check your mouth and appliances for any damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliances, contact our office right away! You may also use wax to cover discomfort spots while waiting to be seen.
Can You Play An Instrument With Braces?
If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position. The degree of adjustment your child experiences will depend on what instrument they play. In general, brass instruments require more changes because players press their lips directly into the mouthpiece.
Sores can also develop, but liberal use of orthodontic wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think. Life with braces can be challenging, but well worth it. Follow our other patients' journeys on our social media for amazing results.