Braces Are a Big Decision
You've taken a big step by having braces put on. You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. It's an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve.
As you adjust to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few changes to your daily oral care routine, but it'll become second nature before you know it.
Tips for Living With Braces
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 on, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is completely 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) and you should get some relief.
If your pain is severe and doesn't go away after rinsing, you may 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
Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. It's important to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria has a chance to grow.
If you're not able to brush right away, rinse your mouth with water to wash away any food particles until you can get to your toothbrush.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use 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 indicates poor brushing.
- 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, during your treatment, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces.
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
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
There are also a few oral habits you'll want to break in order to keep your braces functioning perfectly.
Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces. Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
If your teeth begin to feel a little loose, don't worry - this is 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 & Brackets
The wires on your braces may occasionally come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any part of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
You can temporarily fix a loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the affected 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 Or Bracket
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to shift. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and causing irritation to 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 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 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 of your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by Dr. Beim.
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 mouth guard, or to 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.