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.
FIRST DAYS IN BRACES
The adhesive used to attach the braces to your teeth cures rapidly, but takes 24 hours to completely cure. You can eat any time after leaving our office, however, we ask that you remember the list of foods that may be harmful to your braces. While eating with your new braces, it is beneficial to follow a diet consisting of softer foods.
Initially, the braces feel like they "stick out." This is normal. As you become accustomed to your braces and tooth alignment improves, this sensation will cease to be a concern. Until the cheek tissue has "toughened," you may find it helpful to use a small piece of orthodontic wax around any brackets that are causing irritation.
You will probably notice some discomfort beginning a few hours after your braces are placed. Some teeth, usually the front teeth, may feel tender and be sensitive to pressure. Occasionally, patients report that they experience no discomfort, but most patients have some soreness that begins during the first eight hours and dissipates within one week. Non-prescription pain remedies are recommended for discomfort. For maximum effectiveness, it may be best to take such medications before the discomfort begins. You may use Orabase or Zilactin B for the temporary relief of minor soft tissue irritations.
Before Leaving the Office
After each visit, there are routine steps that we ask you to take prior to leaving the office. These steps will minimize discomfort related to irritation from the braces and ensure an optimal response to treatment.
- Using your finger and tongue, check that wire ends do not extend into areas that might poke or abrade the tongue and cheek.
- Make sure that you understand what you are to do until your next appointment. This could include wearing elastics bands, activating a palatal expander or following specific hygiene or diet instructions.
- Make sure you have an adequate supply of orthodontic wax, elastic bands or other items you may need between appointments.
- Make sure that your questions about treatment are answered. Treatment goes better when everyone understands the process. We encourage parents to accompany their children to their appointments, allowing us the opportunity to update them, as needed, on treatment progress before or after the patient’s visit.
- Always schedule your next appointment before leaving the office. Waiting one or two weeks after an appointment to schedule your next office visit complicates the scheduling process, since appointments are scheduled numerous weeks in advance. Postponing appointments is a common contributor to extended treatment and appliance breakage.
Eating with Braces
Don't worry; you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.
Foods to avoid with braces:
- 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
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
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.
Click here to read more about the proper care of your appliances.
Brushing Your Teeth with Braces
When you have braces it's very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your treatment. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us and we can help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.
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.