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.
Eating with Braces
Care must be taken during eating to avoid damaging brackets and wires. Excessive breakage results in longer treatment time. By following a few simple guidelines you can protect your teeth and appliances and help ensure that you get your braces off as soon as possible!
Foods to avoid with braces:
- Hard candy, suckers, Jolly Ranchers, mints, etc.
- Bubblegum (sugar-free gum is a safe alternative)
- Ice (ok in drinks, but never ok to chew!)
- Nuts and nut brittles
- Chewy caramels, taffy, Starbursts, Skittles, etc.
- Crunchy croutons or bacon bits, hard pizza crusts, beef jerkey strips
- Pens, pencils, bottle caps or other objects
Foods to be eaten with caution:
- Raw vegetables - cut up into small pieces, best to cook until soft
- Corn on the cob - best to cut off the cob
- Popcorn is ok, just avoid the partially popped or unpopped kernals
- Tortilla chips, Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos - break into smaller pieces
- Soda pop, sports/energy drinks, juices, lemonade - while not entirely off limits, all contain high amounts of sugar and acid which is very damaging to the teeth
You'll soon find there are many foods you CAN eat! As long as you are careful, you can still enjoy most of your favorite foods and may even find some new treats.
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 and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking soda in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes and spit out (do not swallow the saltwater). For more information about mouth ulcerations, click here.
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 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.
Proper oral hygiene (keeping your teeth clean) is VERY important to the health of your teeth and gums and the success of your orthodontic treatment. It is imperative that you brush your teeth several times a day, ideally every time you eat. Not keeping your teeth clean will result in permanent white stains on the teeth and possbily cavities that must be filled by the dentist. Poor brushing also extends treatment time.
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 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 appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth, appliance damage, or your bite feels different, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.
It is imperative that orthodontic patients not use tobacco (in any form) during their treatment or risk significant, irreversible damage to the teeth, gums and bones.
Regular Dental Visits
It is very important to visit your generall dentist every 6 months during treatment for check ups and cleanings. Your orthodontist and general dentist work together to assure you maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout your treatment.