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 to put over the braces that will lessen the tenderness. Please don't hesitate to let us know.
Care & Maintenance
Brushing with braces can be an adjustment, and 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 can't brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use 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
After getting your braces or an adjustment, you may need to eat soft foods for a few days. You will get used to eating with braces in no time at all! However, you will need to take special care to avoid certain foods that could damage your braces and/or appliances.
Hard Foods You Should Avoid
- Sticky foods: caramel, bubble gum, jolly ranchers
- Chewy foods: gummy bears, licorice
- Hard and Crunchy foods: popcorn, hard chips or pretzels, candy, nuts
- Ice: Don't chew on it!
- Foods you have to bite into with your front teeth: apples, carrots, corn on the cob (you can eat these foods if you cut your apples and carrots into small bites and cut your corn off of the cob)
Soft Foods You Could Eat:
- Dairy - soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Bread - 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
Other Helpful Tips
You'll want to steer clear of a few oral habits 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.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry - it's normal! 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 wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible to 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 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 irritates your lips and cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.
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, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the pencil's eraser end or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaced wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
Some of the wires or brackets may shift and begin causing irritation to your mouth. In that case, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort but get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of masking the symptoms at home.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Damaged appliances can increase your treatment process length, 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.
For example, Invisalign's clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective and helps you achieve the smile you've always wanted.
Tips for Athletes & Musicians
You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic-friendly mouthguard or to 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.
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 liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up quicker than you'd think.