Braces Are a Big Step
By having your braces put on, you’re taking a big step. You’re officially on the path to 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.
Please let us know if you’d like some wax to put over your braces to lessen the tenderness. We’ll be happy to provide it.
Care & Maintenance
Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. 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 can grow.
If you’re not able to 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 a 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 means you haven’t brushed well enough.
- 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
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you enjoy some of the treats you love, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces.
Foods You Can Eat
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — 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
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
You’ll also need to work on breaking a few oral bad habits. You’ll need to stop chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nail, and smoking to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your braces.
Work on finding another way to keep yourself busy during your treatment.
It’s normal for teeth to feel slightly loose at various points in your treatment. Don’t worry, it just means they’re moving! Sometimes, this movement will cause tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted.
For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and rinse for 30 seconds.
A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is — but don’t connect any elastics to it!
You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it’s irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it. In either case, call our office to let us know what happened, and we will schedule a visit. Be sure to bring any loose parts with you to the appointment!
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by 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 is causing irritation to your lips or 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 connecting them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
Usually, you can move the wire into a better position using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab to adjust it. You can also manipulate any misplaces wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and are irritating your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of only masking the symptoms at home.
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 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 more quickly than you’d think.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Your treatment may take longer if your appliance is damaged during the process. Take care of all of 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 the 20-22 hours per day. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted to.