Braces Are a Big Step
You’ve taken a big step by having braces put on. You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. It’s an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve.
As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few adjustments, but it'll become second nature before you know it.
When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal, and we promise your mouth won't be sore forever. To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water.
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 reduce the tenderness.
Care & Maintenance
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 has a chance to grow.
If you’re not able to brush your teeth right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can 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
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you enjoy some of the treats you love, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your braces.
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
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.
It’s normal for your teeth to feel a bit loose during your treatment. 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 most common thing to occur is that an individual bracket gets knocked off or comes loose. This typically happens when certain types of foods are consumed carelessly or are not prepared in an adequate manner.
That’s why we generally have food recommendations for braces patients. Hard foods can knock brackets off teeth or even dislodge bands (rings) that are glued around teeth.
Occasionally, orthodontic tooth movement itself will guide a tooth into close proximity to another tooth's bracket and this undesired obstruction can cause the bracket in question to get knocked off as the other tooth hits against it.
Regardless of the cause, please keep track of any loose brackets or bands and make sure to bring them with you if they get separated from the wire or the other braces themselves.
We will clean off the old "glue" as well as the old bracket and glue it back on for you.
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, sometimes poking out near the back of your 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.
While this will help ease the discomfort, make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as possible, so we can fix problem instead of masking it.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Damaged appliances can increase your treatment process length, so be sure to take care of all your orthodontic 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, for the Invisalign clear aligner system to work, you need to wear the aligners for 20-22 hours per day. Compliance is the only was to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.
Tips for Athletes & Musicians
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 the liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.
You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouthguard or remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.
If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.