How to Thrive in Braces
Congratulations on getting your braces! You're officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. But, hang on—now that you have these braces, how do you take care of them?
As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few adjustments, but living with braces will 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.
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.
Care & Maintenance
Eating With Braces
While you are wearing braces, please avoid eating hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar. Hard foods can break or damage the wires and brackets, and sticky foods can get caught between the wires and brackets.
Minimize the amount of sugary foods you eat; the sugar can cause tooth decay and other related problems.
Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:
- Gum (sugar-free or regular)
- Sugar Daddies
- Tootsie Rolls
Examples of Hard Foods to Avoid:
- Hard taco shells
- French bread crust/rolls
- Corn on the cob
- Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
- Jolly Ranchers
- Pizza crust
- Uncooked carrots (unless cut)
Minimize Sugary Foods like:
- Ice Cream
Only Once a Day:
- Sweetened tea
- Drinks with sugar
We encourage patients to quit habits like fingernail biting, pencil and pen chewing, and chewing on foreign objects. All of these activities can break or damage your braces.
It's important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. If you have a loose/broken wire or bracket, please call our Monroe or El Dorado office immediately to arrange a repair appointment.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore.
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact Dr. Williams as soon as possible so that he 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.
Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaced wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are 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 you only masking the symptoms at home.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
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.
For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted to.
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. You could also just remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or games.
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 adjust 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 saltwater rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.