LIFE WITH BRACES
Now that you have your braces on (or you will shortly), how do you take care of them?
This is important information because damaged braces or appliances are the surest way to increase the length of your treatment process.
Eating with Braces
As soon as you get your braces put on, you will probably want to stick to soft foods. Your teeth are likely to be a little tender, and soft foods will make things feel like normal more quickly. Definitely avoid hard breads and raw vegetables, like carrots. Before long you’ll be able to bite into a cucumber again. But as long as you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to protect them while you eat.
Here is a list of foods to avoid while you’re in braces:
- Chewy foods, or foods that get stuck in your braces – bagels, potato chips (Doritos are the worst offenders!)
- Crunchy foods – popcorn, ice
- Sticky foods – caramels, chewy candy (like Starburst), certain types of gum
- Hard foods – nuts, hard candy (like Jolly Ranchers), hard pizza crusts
- Foods you have to bite into – corn on the cob, apples, carrots*
* If you want to eat foods you would ordinarily bite into, you still can! Just cut these foods into bite-size pieces first, and place pieces into the back of your mouth. So… cut the corn off the cob, and cut carrots and apples into small pieces rather than biting off a mouthful. Biting normally into hard foods like these is a sure way to damage your braces.
Lastly, chewing on hard objects (for example, pens, pencils, soda can tabs) can also damage your braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer. Moreover, many “emergency” appointments to repair damaged braces can be avoided merely by staying away from problem foods and objects.
When you get your braces on, you may feel some general soreness in your mouth. It is very normal for your teeth to be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. To feel better, you may choose to rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Dissolve 1 teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously for a few minutes. If the tenderness continues to be uncomfortable we recommend that you take whatever you would normally for headaches or similar pains. (But never exceed the dosing outlined on the bottle.) We promise, your mouth will not be sore forever!
You should also expect that your lips, cheeks, and tongue might become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to your new braces. The orthodontic wax we give you can be placed on any rough surface until your mouth has gotten used to your new braces. With orthodontic wax, the trick to remember is that less is more.
Loosening of Teeth
This is to be expected throughout treatment. Do not worry! It is completely normal. Teeth must first loosen before they can be moved. In fact, it is not unusual for teeth to be somewhat loose the entire time you are in braces. Once your braces are removed, your teeth will tighten up again, in their new, straightened positions.
Compliance with Treatment
To achieve the best result in the shortest amount of time possible, it is very important that you work with us to successfully accomplish your treatment goals. Coming in for your regularly scheduled adjustments is certainly important, but other factors will also determine your outcome. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if you follow our directions carefully and stay away from foods that will damage your appliances. Additionally, making sure to wear rubber bands (or other “extras”) is key to achieving the sensational smile for which we are all aiming.
Keeping Things Clean
It is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly (including after every meal) when you have braces. This is one of the only ways to ensure that the teeth and gums will be healthy after your orthodontic treatment is complete. We recommend that our patients rinse nightly with Phos-Flur a special Colgate rinse designed to add strength and hardness to the teeth while they are in braces. Phos-flur has been clinically proven to reduce decalcification (white-spot lesions) by 58%!!
Regular and frequent visits to the dentist are also extremely important during orthodontic treatment. Dr. Levin recommends that every patient see his or her pediatric or family dentist at least once every six months, and more frequently under certain circumstances.
If you play sports, Dr. Levin almost always recommends a protective mouthguard for athletic activities. Mouthguards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in an exciting variety of colors and patterns. Please let us know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for you.
Injuries during sports are common. Most of the time, minor bumps and bruises are not a problem. Many injuries, however, can be made worse if braces are involved. In the case of any injury involving the face, be sure to check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances are damaged, please contact us or your family dentist immediately. In the mean time, you may be able to relieve discomfort temporarily with orthodontic wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.
Loose Wires, Brackets, or Bands
Don’t be alarmed if something comes loose. This happens occasionally. Luckily, these problems are usually not an emergency. All we ask is that you contact our office as soon as possible so that we can assess the situation and advise you accordingly. Many repairs can be taken care of simply by adding time to your next scheduled appointment, if it is not too far in the future.