Life with braces
You’ve got braces! Now what? We’re here to make sure you have the best possible experience during your orthodontic treatment. Here is a brief summary of things you can expect, and of how to take care of your braces. Taking great care of your braces will help us to do the best job we can. Feel free to contact us if you ever have any questions!
Keeping your braces clean – The very most important thing for you with your braces is to do a great job of keeping them clean. Clean braces not only work better and help us to achieve a better result for you, but also allow your teeth to stay healthy, beautiful, and strong for the long run.
The key to keeping your braces clean is to have great brushing habits. Brush after every time you eat, and take care to really brush all around the brackets and up to the gums, and get the brush into all of the spots where food can hide. Electric toothbrushes can be very helpful, but remember that they’re only as good as your brushing habits! Brushing should also be supplemented with regular flossing or water pick use.
Eating the right foods – Taking care to maintain a braces friendly diet is also of great importance during your treatment. Hard, tough, and crunchy foods should be avoided, as they can break or deform your braces. Sticky sugary foods should also be avoided because they are hard to clean and can easily lead to cavities and (sometimes permanent) staining of your teeth. There are still plenty of great foods you can enjoy with your braces!
Foods to enjoy:
- Cooked (softer) veggies
- Baked or mashed potatoes
- Bananas and softer fruits
- Soft meats
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Mac and cheese
- Pizza (just avoid the crust)
- Soups and stews
- Sandwiches with softer breads and meats
- Cereal in milk
- Soft cookies
What to avoid:
Hard/crunchy foods: Apples and hard raw veggies (cut into small pieces before eating), nuts, pretzels, popcorn, hard chips, corn on the cob
- Tough/ chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, tough meats
- Candy and sticky sugary foods: caramels, gum, candy
- Other things: ice, pens, pencils, fingernails, etc.
Discomfort – Braces don’t hurt like they used to, but you are still likely to experience some soreness in your teeth the first few days of having your braces on, and from time to time during your treatment. Over the counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are the best way to reduce this discomfort. If needed, they should be taken according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
As your cheeks and lips adjust to having braces next to them, you may feel like the braces are scratching or poking you. This usually will resolve on its own after a week or two, and the wax we provide you can help you feel more comfortable as your lips and cheeks adjust. Just place a pea-sized amount of wax over whatever part of the braces are poking, and it will block it from scratching you. Rinsing with salt water can also help during the adjustment period.
Loose teeth – As your teeth begin moving, you may notice that they feel like they’re getting loose. The teeth first loosen a little bit in order to be able to move, so this is a normal part of the orthodontic process.
Sports – Always wear a mouthguard when playing sports, we want to keep your mouth healthy and safe! Most athletics stores will have mouthguards that will fit over your braces.
Congratulations!! Your braces are off! Now you’re free to enjoy all the nuts, popcorn, and other foods you’ve been avoiding throughout your treatment… But you’re not done yet! Your retainers are just as important as the braces themselves, since they are the key to maintaining your new smile. It’s very important to use your retainers as instructed in order to prevent the teeth from moving back to where they started.
Initially, you will wear your retainers all the time (except for eating). The period of full time wear will usually last a few months, and then you’ll be able to wear them just at night while sleeping.
Clean your retainers well, and brush your teeth before putting them back in your mouth.
Use a toothbrush and cool water to clean your retainers. You can also use a retainer or denture cleaner periodically in addition to brushing them.
Keep them away from hot water and excessive heat, as this can deform the plastic.
When not in your mouth, always keep your retainers in their case to keep them safe. Don’t wrap them in a napkin while eating – they can be thrown away by mistake!
Retainers are for life! Your teeth will become more stable over time with good retainer use, but they will never be entirely resistant to movement.