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Life with Braces

In order to complete your treatment in the estimated treatment time, your cooperation is crucial with good oral hygiene habits and avoiding certain foods to prevent breakage of the appliances.

Food Instructions

Certain foods can loosen orthodontic bands, brackets, and archwires. Not only can this cause discomfort but can cause the teeth to move in the wrong direction. In many cases, our patients are unaware that a bracket is broken, yet the treatment is “derailed”. This leads to lengthening treatment time and frustration along the way. We ask that you follow the food instructions carefully to avoid such mishaps.

Foods to avoid with braces:

  • Crunchy foods — pretzels, popcorn, chips, ice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum, gummy snacks and even gummy vitamins
  • Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
  • Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots, hard sandwich rolls
  • Chewy foods – bagels, licorice, chewable vitamins

Foods you CAN eat with braces:

  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins w/o 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 w/o nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
  • Nuts — only fine chopped or thin sliced

Management of Discomfort

Don’t expect severe pain when your braces or appliances are installed or adjusted. Most patients notice that their teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal for patients who have just gotten their braces put on, and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, Advil or Tylenol can be used. We also 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).

Also, your lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We will provide you with some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. We will also provide you with numbing gel that you can apply to the irritated areas. If you need more wax, please call us or visit your local pharmacy. Some patients also find relief with Orabase gel from the pharmacy for sores that may develop.

Loose Teeth

As your teeth start to straighten, it is normal for them to feel a little loose as they are moving through the bone. Once they are in their final position, they will tighten up again. If you are concerned about any severe mobility, please contact us.

Loose Brackets, Wires and Bands

If there is breakage, the brackets, wires, or 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 with you.

If you experience a loose bracket, you can secure it to the wire with some orthodontic wax. 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 over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Follow Instructions

To complete your treatment in the estimated time or sooner it is important 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.

Sports Mouthguard

Most of our patients maintain an active sports schedule, even while undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard that is designed for patients with orthodontic appliances in order to protect your teeth and your appliances. We will provide you with the correct type of mouthguard. Avoid boil and bite mouthguards as they will loosen your braces or appliances.

Sports related injuries to the mouth are preventable by using a sports mouthguard. In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth, teeth and your appliances for any damage that may have occurred. If your appliances have been damaged, please contact our office right away. In case you fractured or avulsed a tooth, call your dentist immediately.

Brushing with Braces

Maintaining good oral hygiene is very important during orthodontic treatment. When you have orthodontic appliances, it’s very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment.

It is necessary to brush your teeth for two minutes after every meal with a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. As an alternative, you can use an electric or battery powered toothbrush to increase your brushing effectiveness. Brush the outside and inside surfaces of your teeth using small, gentle, circular motions while positioning the head of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and to the top and bottom edges of the braces. Brush your teeth’s chewing surfaces and the inside surface of your teeth using short, gentle, circular motions. Pay close attention to the areas around your brackets or other appliances. Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove odor causing bacteria.

Flossing with Braces

The best way to clean between your teeth is by flossing. To floss with braces, use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss to thread the floss behind each wire. Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers of both hands, and use your pointer finger and thumb as the guide leaving a few inches of taught floss between both hands. Gently slide the floss between the teeth using an up and down motion. Floss the sides of each tooth beneath the gum line to remove plaque and food particles. Repeat this process until you’ve flossed all of your teeth. If you find that your floss is not removing all of the food particles between your teeth and around your braces, a water flosser may be helpful!