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. For helpful tips on successful treatment, read about Orthodontic Success: PDF
Eating with Braces
How long your orthodontic treatment takes depends a lot on how often you break your orthodontic appliances (braces and wires). No broken appliances equals speedy treatment, so 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 — bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cut up apples, peaches, nectarines, mangos
- Treats — ice cream without nuts or gummies, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
- Smoothies (click here for some delicious recipes: PDF)
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 half 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). Do this 3 to 4 times a day.
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 will be sure to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need more wax, please let us know.
If some of your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal ! Although most people do not notice this, braces must first loosen your teeth slightly to move them into the right position. Be careful not to dwell on the feeling of looseness and clench on those teeth too hard. They firm up again really quickly, as long as you take care to brush and floss to keep them clean.
Loose Wires and Brackets
The individual brackets are bonded to your teeth with a type of orthodontic glue that is designed to last years and will only come loose if you forget to be careful and put too much biting force on them. The wires we use are designed to last at least from one appointment to the next scheduled one. Unfortunate things can happen though. If something does come apart or becomes loose please call us to schedule a repair appointment. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it with you when you come to the office. Although such problems are not usually painful emergencies, please do not wait several weeks until your next scheduled appointment as doing so can significantly delay the progress of your treatment.
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil (something firm and blunt) 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 until you come in for the repair appointment you schedule with us over the phone.
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. If the orthodontic forces are interrupted by broken things, teeth have this annoying tendency to move back towards where they were, meaning that we have to redo some steps, significantly lengthening your treatment time.
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.
In case of a sports injury, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. It might be best to contact your dentist first if dental injuries seem serious, as your orthodontist does not repair the more serious things like broken teeth or major cuts to soft tissues. Your dentist will then refer you to our office if all that is left to do is to repair broken or damaged parts of your orthodontic appliance system. You can temporarily relieve discomfort of broken parts that may be sticking out by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.