CARING FOR BRACES
Your orthodontic treatment has started. With proper care, together we will create a beautiful and healthy smile. We would like to provide you with information to help you maintain your orthodontic appliances and make your experience with us more enjoyable.
Know The Parts Of Your Braces
The brackets attach to the teeth. The metal bands are around the molars (you may not have these). The wire connects everything together and produces tooth movement. The ties (colored rings) hold the wire in place.
If Something Should Break
The glue that holds the braces in place gains full strength in the first 24-48 hours, so chew carefully for the first day or two. Occasionally, something may become loose or broken. Call the office right away and arrange to have it repaired. Do not wait for your next appointment. Save any broken parts and bring them in with you. Sometimes your wire can begin to poke the inside of your mouth. Call and come in, so we can clip it. You don’t have to suffer until your next appointment. The best way to manage these problems is to avoid them, so be careful with your braces and your orthodontic treatment will go smoothly.
Brushing With Braces
Brush your teeth every time you eat anything. Use your travel toothbrush at school or work. You don’t need to use toothpaste while at school or work; just use your brush and some water to rinse well. Angle the toothbrush to get the bristles underneath the wire. Don’t forget to brush the corners and along the gumline.
Use a proxy brush if needed to get behind the wire. Look at your teeth after brushing. If you can see “fuzzy” (plaque) around the brackets or the gumline, brush some more. Plaque accumulation can cause decalcification of the enamel (white spot scars and cavities) and swelling of the gums. Swollen gums make plaque removal even more difficult.
Floss your teeth thoroughly at least once a day using floss threaders or preloaded orthodontic flossers and use a fluoride rinse. A water flosser is an effective alternative to the dental floss. It helps flush out the food debris and bacteria around the teeth and along the gum line. Use disclosing tablets that, when dissolved, stain the plaque on the teeth and braces pink/purple. Adequate cleaning is achieved when all of the stain has been removed. Using these will help develop good brushing/flossing techniques.
What Not To Eat
Do not chew on ice, pens, pencils, bones, or hard nuts. Avoid chewy/gooey foods such as Snickers or Starburst. Try a 3 Musketeer Bar or KitKat instead. Do not chomp into hard foods with your front teeth. Thinly slice apples and carrots into slivers and chew with your back teeth. Corn should be eaten cut off the cob. Limit the number of sweets in your day. Eat sweets with a meal and brush afterwards. Sugarless gum is OK except when you have spacers. Since plaque thrives in the presence of sugars, reducing the amount of sweets you eat will help reduce the problems (white spot scars and cavities) associated with plaque. Remember that the braces and wires can be damaged by foods that are hard or very sticky. Please review the list of foods to avoid.
The first week you have braces will be the most challenging. There is so much for your mouth to get used to. Expect to have sore teeth for the first few days and for a day or two after an adjustment. Eating soft foods will help. For discomfort, take Tylenol or Advil for relief before the soreness sets in to get the maximum pain relief benefit.
It is also normal for the teeth to feel somewhat loose - this is necessary for them to move. Bite pillows are sometimes bonded to the biting surface so the teeth can move into ideal position without interference.
Although braces are smooth, your lips and cheeks still have to get used to having something new in side of your mouth. Use wax if the braces irritate the inside of your mouth. Locate the part of the braces causing the discomfort, dry the area with a tissue, wet your fingers on the inside of your cheek (to keep the wax from sticking to your fingers), pinch off a baby pea-sized ball of wax, and press on the braces. This will create a smooth surface so the irritated area can heal. When your mouth gets used to the braces, you will probably not need the wax again.
To soothe the irritated area, use warm saltwater rinses or apply an oral analgesic like Orabase or Brace Relief. Your mouth will think the braces are food and produce more saliva. This should only last a couple of days. When your mouth waters, your lips may get chapped. Use Chapstick.
If you play contact sports such as football, soccer, basketball, etc. make sure to wear a mouth guard, which we can provide for you.
Continue to see your general dentist every 6 months for cleanings and checkups throughout orthodontic treatment. Since orthodontic patients are at higher risk for plaque accumulation, most patients can benefit from exposing the teeth to additional fluoride in the form of a rinse or gel. The concentration of fluoride in these products is higher than that of toothpaste and makes the enamel stronger and better able to resist the effects of plaque. Fluoride use is recommended for all of our child/adolescent patients and on an as-needed basis for adults.