Life with Braces
Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It's important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.
Eating with Braces
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.
Foods to avoid with braces:
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
Foods you CAN eat with braces:
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
Soreness Caused from Braces and Appliances
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 will not 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 the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.
Loose Wires and Bands
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
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.
Take Care of your Appliances
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all 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.
Playing Sports with Braces
Game, Set, Match — we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it's recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.
In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.
We are a Certified Invisalign Provider
Consider Invisalign treatment to get the beautiful straight teeth you've always wanted — without braces. A consultation with our doctor can determine if Invisalign clear aligners are right for you.
What is it?
Invisalign treatment uses a series of virtually invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners that allow you to smile more during treatment as well as after. Invisalign clear aligners are made with 3D computer imaging technology and have been proven effective. More than 70% of orthodontists in the US and Canada are certified to administer Invisalign treatment.
Why would I want it?
Not only are the aligners virtually invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment. Plus, brushing and flossing are no problem. They are also more comfortable than traditional braces, with no metal or wires, which also usually means you spend less time in your doctor's office getting adjustments. Invisalign treatment also allows you to view your own virtual treatment plan when you start so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.
How does it work?
You wear each set of aligners for about two weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move — little by little, week by week — until they have straightened to their final positions. You'll visit us about once every six weeks to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned. Total treatment time averages nine to 15 months and the average number of aligners worn during treatment is between 18 and 30, but both will vary from case to case.
Metal braces are the most common type of braces for orthodontic patients. Today's metal braces are much smaller, flatter, and more comfortable than in the past. Patients of all ages choose metal braces to help them achieve straight, beautiful smiles.
What Braces are Made Of
Traditional metal braces are made of high quality stainless steel or titanium. The three main parts of your braces are:
Brackets — Brackets are attached to the teeth using special glue that bonds them to the tooth surface and holds them in place.
Archwire — The archwire is the thin metal wire that connects each bracket and puts pressure on the teeth to help guide them into place.
Ligature Elastic (also known as the “rubber bands”) — Elastics, or rubber bands, are the colored ties that hold the archwires to the brackets. Your orthodontist will change the elastics at each appointment. Elastics may come in a variety of colors.
How Braces Work
Once placed on your teeth, braces place constant pressure on your teeth, and the force of the pressure helps move teeth into proper position. At each appointment, your orthodontist may tighten the archwires. In addition to braces, some patients may need to wear rubber bands. Patients wearing braces may notice their teeth feeling a little loose. This is normal and temporary; once the teeth are done moving this feeling will go away.
Metal Braces for All Ages
Traditional metal braces are still the most popular, quickest, and most cost effective, orthodontic treatment available. Your orthodontist can help you determine what treatment is best for your individual case. Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment and learn more about how braces can enhance your smile.
Having braces doesn't necessarily require highly noticeable metal brackets and wires. In fact, many of today's braces are made from either clear or natural tooth colored materials to provide patients with an attractive, less noticeable alternative to traditional braces.
What is the difference between clear braces and clear aligners?
Clear braces are the same as traditional metal braces except that they are clear! Clear braces are a less noticeable alternative to traditional metal braces and provide patients with an equally effective treatment.
Clear aligners are different from clear braces. Clear aligners are pieces of hard plastic that are designed to fit into your mouth like a mouthguard. Clear aligners are great for patients requiring minor orthodontic treatment.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to clear braces?
As with any orthodontic treatment, it is important to choose the right option for your needs and lifestyle. Clear braces are a great alternative to traditional metal braces and your orthodontist will help you determine whether they are the right treatment for you.
Advantages to clear braces:
Appearance: Ceramic braces and clear braces are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Clear and ceramic braces offer an aesthetic alternative for patients seeking options other than traditional metal braces.
Confidence: Many patients who choose ceramic or clear braces feel more confident about their orthodontic treatment, especially knowing that people are focusing on their smiles rather than their braces.
Disadvantages to clear braces:
Cost: Ceramic and clear braces may cost more than traditional metal braces. Your orthodontist may offer convenient payment plans to help control the costs of your treatment. Be sure to talk to your orthodontist about all of your financial options.
Discoloration: The clear elastic ties used with clear and ceramic braces may become slightly discolored when you drink tea, coffee, or wine, and eat certain foods or smoke. Ask your orthodontist about how you can keep your braces looking their best.
Are clear or ceramic braces the right choice for my smile and me?
By talking to your orthodontist, you can decide if clear or ceramic braces are the right treatment for you. Your orthodontist can provide answers to your questions and extra information explaining the benefits of each treatment. If you would like to learn more about clear braces, ceramic braces, and all of the options available to you, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment today.
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing Your Teeth with Braces
When you have braces, it's very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your treatment. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us and we can help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.
- Brushing Instructions
Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
- Flossing Instructions
Flossing: Step 1
Using a piece of floss about 18 inches long, carefully thread the end between braces and wire. You may find a floss threader helpful.
Flossing: Step 2
Carefully floss around the braces.
Flossing: Step 3
Carefully floss around the gum areas.
Flossing: Step 4
Carefully floss around each tooth.
- Wear your retainer at all times, until the doctor instructs otherwise.
- Take your retainer out when eating, and always put it back in its case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
- Clean the retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors. Efferdent® or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.
- When your retainer is not in your mouth, it should ALWAYS be in its case. Pets love to chew on them!
- Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to it faster.
- Retainers are breakable, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, call us immediately.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or you believe it needs adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust it yourself.
- Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
- Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!
- Remove your retainer when you go swimming.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
The palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. The animation below will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.
True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can't take care of yourself. We'll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.
You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. If there is a loose piece that you can remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment. If your braces are poking you, put soft wax on the piece that's sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you can pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.
After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chewing. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. An alternative (better tasting) mouthwash is the Healthy Gums Rinse by The Natural Dentist. Placing Orabase on the affected area may also help relieve discomfort; Orabase can be found in a pharmacy. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.
The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!
If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part.
If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment.
Using a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers, try to put your wire back into place. It is ok to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place: tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing colored o-ring. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn't help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.
Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it so that it is no longer poking.