Life With Braces
Getting braces should not impact your lifestyle significantly. The following sections will give you basic information on how to adjust to your new orthodontic appliances and properly care for them. Always feel free to call our office at any time if you have questions.
Care in Eating
In general, common sense will tell you what to stay away from. Hard, sticky, high-sugary foods must be avoided. Hard foods can break, damage, or loosen wires and brackets. Sticky foods may get caught, or pull off brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on other objects should be avoided.
Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid: Gum (sugar-free is OK), licorice, toffee, tootsie rolls, caramels, starburst, skittles, sour keys, corn on the cob
Examples of hard foods that must be cut first: Ice, nuts, French bread crust/rolls, apples and carrots, pizza crust
It is important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. In the event of a loose/broken wire or bracket, call our office immediately to arrange an appointment for repair.
Brushing and Flossing
The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. During orthodontic treatment, taking special care of your braces, teeth and gums will ensure the best possible result.
Brush your teeth three times daily (morning, after lunch or right after school, and at bedtime) especially during orthodontic treatment to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces.
While brushing your teeth, use a soft bristled toothbrush and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. Move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the brush at an angle, brushing slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surfaces of each tooth. Take several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush upwards on the lower teeth, downwards on the upper teeth and along the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse. Make sure to brush above the upper braces and below the lower braces, contacting your gums as you do so.
Use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily.
Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You know your teeth are clean when you hear and feel the squeak of the floss against your teeth. Gently floss around your archwire without using force or pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.
What to do in case of emergency
Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.
Loose brackets or bands
Call our office for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.
Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.
Discomfort with orthodontic treatment
During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take Tylenol or Advil while you adjust to your new braces.