Life With Braces
Living with braces requires some important adjustments to your oral care and daily eating habits. You will need to take special care when cleaning your teeth during braces treatment, and there are a number of foods you will need to avoid to protect your braces and teeth from damage during the course of treatment. Here are some helpful tips for making the most of your new life with braces.
Making a point to take special care of your teeth while you have braces is extremely important to prevent cavities and damage to the braces appliance. Braces, wires, bands, and retainers can all trap food particles and make brushing and flossing more difficult. Careful brushing and flossing after every meal and snack is the best way to prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay, and gum diseases.
Good brushing is the foundation of everyday oral care. Brush your teeth in slow, circular, vibrating motions, holding the brush at a straight angle. Brush each bracket carefully to dislodge as many food particles as possible. You also need to floss at least once a day. With braces, flossing can be challenging. We recommend using a floss threader to help pull the floss under the arch-wire.
An inter-dental toothbrush, or Proxabrush, is also a handy tool for cleaning hard to brush places between the wires. These brushes have small, cone shaped tips to easily fit between wires, and can better clean underneath and around wires and braces. This brush can help maintain healthy teeth and gums during treatment. Remember to brush gently to avoid damaging the wires.
After brushing and flossing, rinse with water and/or an antiseptic dental rinse to clear out debris and kill bacteria on teeth and gums. You can also apply a topical fluoride before bedtime to help kill bacteria and replace minerals in tooth enamel. Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay. This must remain on your teeth for 30 minutes and can be applied at night before bed.
Foods to Avoid
The most notorious part of the braces treatment is the list of foods that you need to avoid. While there are a number of foods to avoid eating, you can still eat a lot of foods you love–you just have to take extra care in preparation and when cleaning your teeth. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can damage wires and brackets; sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires; and sugary foods cause tooth decay and other problems.
Make sure to also avoid chewing on fingernails, pens, pencils, and other foreign objects. Also, regularly inspect your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. If you notice any damage to your braces, call our office immediately for an appointment for repair.
Hard Foods to Avoid:
- Hard bread crust
- Corn on the cob
- Carrots & apples (unless cut into small pieces)
- Hard candy
- Hard taco shells
Sticky Foods to Avoid:
- Tootsie rolls
Minimize Eating Foods Like:
- Ice cream
- Any candy
Consume Only Once a Day:
- Any other sugary drink
Orthodontic emergencies are rare, and most problems can be corrected either at home or during a scheduled appointment. If a situation occurs that you cannot resolve, call our office so we can schedule a repair appointment as soon as possible. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to schedule a repair. Here are some common problems you may encounter.
If a wire on your braces is causing irritation, try to reposition the wire with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try to cover the end with a small piece of wax or cotton. If the wire is causing pain by protruding into your gums, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors. Just make sure to sterilize these in rubbing alcohol.
If the main wire or a bracket has come loose, call our office immediately to determine if the bracket needs to be refitted. We can make an appointment as soon as possible to inspect and correct the problem. If you must cut the wire and slide the bracket off, make sure to sterilize scissors or nail clippers before cutting the wire. Make an appointment with us for the next business day for a repair.
This is fairly common during treatment and not a serious problem. If you lose a separator, call our office to find out if it needs to be replaced.
Some soreness or discomfort is common after an initial braces fitting and routine adjustments. If you experience any pain, you can take acetaminophen or non-aspirin pain relievers. This should help reduce discomfort. You can also drink ice water to help relax the wire a bit. If your jaw is sore, warm wash cloth application and warm salt water rinses can help alleviate discomfort.