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Life with Braces

Care of Braces

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! If you’ve been wanting to drop a few pounds, the first week wearing braces is just your chance! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing 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
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils, or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Soreness

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.  If the tenderness is severe, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain.

The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces.  This can be relieved by placing wax on the bracket or wire or rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash.  Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously.

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new corrected positions.

Brushing

It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Loose Wire or Bracket

Don’t be alarmed if a wire or bracket comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the brace/bracket. Simply get it out of the way.

If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance and call our office to see if an appointment is needed to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Emergency Care

As a general rule, an emergency appointment may be made when there is severe pain, a loose bracket, a broken wire, or something sticking out that you can’t take care of. It’s important to know the names of the parts of your appliances. It will help, when you phone the office, to be able to identify what part is broken or out of place.

Wear and Care of Orthodontic Elastics

  • Orthodontic elastics are worn to correct your bite and to make your teeth fit better.
  • Wear the elastics all the time, day and night, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Start each morning with a new set of elastics. Remove the elastics only to eat and to brush your teeth.
  • If you lose your elastics or run out of them, call our office and we will mail you a new package.
  • Wearing your elastics consistently will make your treatment progress better and you will see results sooner!

Mouthguards

If you play sports, it’s important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. We do not recommend boil-and-bite mouthguards. Boil-and-bite guards can break off the braces if they are adapted too tightly. We recommend non-boil-and-bite mouthguards that are made for braces. Shock Doctor and Under Armor make an excellent mouthguard for braces. Custom mouthguards are not appropriate while wearing braces because the teeth are always moving. A custom mouthguard will no longer fit when teeth move. A custom mouthguard is recommended for contact sport activities once the braces have been removed.

In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.

Care of Appliances

To complete the treatment plan successfully, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.

Functional Appliance

  • Functional appliances are used to direct the growth of your jaws.
  • They must be worn all the time in order to correct your bite prior to wearing braces. That means all day and while sleeping.
  • Remove the functional appliances only to brush your teeth and to eat. Brush your appliance at least twice per day with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Habit-breaking Appliances

  • Stopping habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting at an early age will prevent future complications.
  • The habit-breaking appliance is specifically designed to break a habit that would otherwise alter the shape of the jaws or the alignment and angulation of the teeth.
  • The appliance is cemented to the teeth and is not removed until the habit has stopped. It is intentionally bulky to prevent the tongue from thrusting forward or the thumb from sitting in the roof of the mouth.
  • You can help by concentrating on keeping your tongue up on the roof of your mouth when you swallow, or by keeping your thumb out of your mouth.
  • Brush and rinse around the appliance carefully. If the gums are irritated or swollen, rinse with warm salty water three times per day.
  • Please call our office if the habit-breaking appliance becomes loose.
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