Life with Braces
Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It's important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.
Keeping a Healthy Smile
Braces create small ledges, nooks and crannies for food deposits, which can lead to cavities and gum problems. This makes brushing and flossing even more important while you are wearing braces. When you brush and floss, handle your appliances carefully so you won't break or loosen them. Following these brushing and eating tips will keep your appliances and your smile healthy.
Be sure to brush your teeth right after every meal and before you go to bed. It's best to use a fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Your orthodontist may prescribe a special fluoride paste that you will brush with at night to help prevent cavities. Try to brush like this:
- Start by brushing the outside of each tooth at least 10 times.
- Then brush where your gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion.
- Brush the inside surface of each tooth at least 10 times.
- Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth last.
Because your toothbrush won't reach between your teeth, brushing alone won't keep your teeth clean and healthy. Flossing can help. A floss threader, available from us or a pharmacy, helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day, like this:
- Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
- Pull the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins.
- Rinse with lots of clean water, and watch your teeth and braces sparkle.
Use a fluoridated toothpaste. Drs. Salmon, Triftshauser and deSa may prescribe a special fluoride paste if necessary.
You should be brushing at least four times a day – once at breakfast, at lunch, after school and before you go to bed. If you are not able to brush after you eat, be sure to rinse thoroughly with water, and NEVER skip brushing at night before you go to bed.
Eating with Braces
Although some patients are able to eat or drink almost anything while in braces and have no ill effects, there are certain dietary habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances, as well as increase the risk of dental disease. Our aim is to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances due to appliance breakage as possible. Remember, teeth move their best in a healthy environment and in individuals with excellent overall health.
Potential Harm to Your Teeth and Gums
Foods and beverages that may cause dental cavities should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. These foods stick to your braces and remain on your teeth for long periods of time. If foods or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterwards. Between meals, snacks should be confined to foods without refined sugar and should be followed by vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is not available.
Potential Harm to Your Braces
Braces have been attached to your teeth with an adhesive that will normally withstand the forces of eating. However, braces can be dislodged and wires bent or broken while eating certain foods. Hard foods, such as nuts, hard candy, corn chips, and even crisp taco shells, can harm your braces and should be avoided. Chewing ice cubes, pens, pencils, etc. can also be very destructive to your appliances. Some foods, such as whole apples, raw carrots or celery, are healthy snacks, but must be cut into thin slices to avoid damaging your braces.Chewy foods, such as gum, caramels, and even thick bread crusts and bagels, can bend and distort wires causing treatment delays and extra visits for repairs. Popcorn can cause harm in multiple ways. The husks from the popcorn can become lodged beneath the braces and cause irritation to the gum tissue. Unpopped kernels can shear or break off brackets as well as bend or dislodge wires. Please inspect your braces when eating foods that may become caught on the braces or beneath the gums.
Soreness caused from braces and appliances
When you first get your braces, you may notice that your 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, 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 salt water).
If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon 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!
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth in order to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.
Loose Wires and Bands
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 with you.
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.
Take Care of your Appliances
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.
Playing Sports with Braces
Game, Set, Match - we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it's recommended that you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.
In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.