Braces Are a Big Step

Congratulations on starting your journey to a spectacular smile! Orthodontic treatment can be quite a lifestyle change.

Fortunately, most patients, regardless of their age, are quite adaptive to such a change. We are here to help you make your adjustment as easy as possible.

Soreness

Whether wearing braces or Invisalign, you’ll very likely experience soreness, and your teeth may feel tender when biting, especially during the first couple of days right after your orthodontic visit or once you switch to a new set of aligners.

Your cheeks and gums may also be irritated. To help ease the discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain medicines, and rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.

Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

If your pain is severe and doesn't go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. 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.

We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.

metal braces being brushed

Care & Maintenance

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

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

  • 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

  • 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 (We recommend cutting these first)

With aligners, you can eat pretty much anything. Just be sure to take your aligners out before you eat and clean your teeth thoroughly before putting your aligner back in.

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 About Drinks?

Whether you have braces or aligners, water and milk are the best choices for your teeth. Beverages like coffee, 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!

While you can drink cool water with your aligner in, remove your aligners when drinking everything else.

Both for braces and aligners, be sure to brush right away after drinking. If brushing is not possible, rinse thoroughly with water.

Bad Habits

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.

 

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, 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.

 

Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

 

Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, 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 misplaces 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.

 

Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.

 

Tips for Athletes & Musicians

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 appliance, contact our office right away! You may also use wax to cover discomfort spots while waiting to be seen.

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.

Sores can also develop, but liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.