How to Take Care of Braces

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.

Advice from a Braces Dentist: Eating With Braces

Don’t worry, you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, 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, hard rolls
  • 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

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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 — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Soreness Caused From Braces and Appliances

After your braces are put on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and your teeth may be tender for three to five days. If the tenderness is severe, take ibuprofen or whatever you normally take for a headache or similar pain. Until your mouth becomes accustomed to the appliances, your 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. You may also experience some canker sores or blisters. Wax can help alleviate the discomfort, as can rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously.

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.

Loose Wires and Bands

Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose as this happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, carefully use a blunt instrument (back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) to gently push the irritating wire out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Brushing

It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces! We want to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. When you get your braces, we will review the proper way to brush and floss to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. Some of the risk factors of poor oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment include cavities, decalcification of enamel (“white spots”), and gingivitis/periodontitis (gum disease).

Patients having a difficult time maintaining good oral hygiene may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning, and adults who have a history of gum disease should be monitored by a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Playing Sports With Braces

Playing sports while wearing braces is not a problem at all – as long as you wear a mouthguard! Being hit in the mouth while wearing braces can be a very painful experience, and a mouthguard can help protect your lips and cheeks from trauma. Please ask if you have any questions regarding the mouthguard you are currently using, or if you would like us to provide you with one.

Brushing Instructions

eating with braces

Brushing: Step 1

Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
brushing your teeth with braces

Brushing: Step 2

Brush gently in a circular motion
teeth brushing with braces

Brushing: Step 3

Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
cleaning braces

Brushing: Step 4

Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.

Flossing Instructions

how to brush your teeth with braces

Flossing: Step 1

Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.
how to floss with braces

Flossing: Step 2

Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
flossing your braces

Flossing: Step 3

Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
floss your braces

Flossing: Step 4

Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.

Braces Myths

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) sets the record straight on some of the biggest braces myths and misconceptions about orthodontic treatment. Currently more than 4 million children and 1 million adults in North America wear braces. Below are the answers to some of the most popular, and strange, braces myths and questions AAO members have received from their patients during the past year:

Can braces rust?
No. This braces myth is just not up to date. Today’s braces are made of new stronger materials, like titanium alloy, and will NOT rust.

Can I still play sports?
Yes, but be sure to wear a mouth guard. Not only can mouth guards save teeth, they may also protect against jaw fractures. Mouth guards are advisable for anyone, whether they wear braces or not.

Can I still play a musical instrument?
Yes. That is, if you could play a musical instrument before you got braces.

If two people with braces kiss, can their braces become locked together?
With today’s smaller sleeker braces it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to lock braces while kissing. Also, braces are NOT magnetic.

Will my braces set off the metal detectors in the airport?
One of the more common braces myths! You are cleared for takeoff. The lightweight materials used in braces will not affect metal detectors.

Will my braces interfere with radio signals or electronics devices?
Another common braces myth! No. Radio-loving gadget fanatics can rest easy.

Will braces increase my chance of being struck by lightning?
No. With or without braces, the chances of a lightning strike remain the same which, in the U.S. in any 1 year, according to NationalGeographic.com, is 1 in 700,000. Rest easy, you can put this braces myth to bed.

Will my braces attract unwarranted attention from fish?
Scuba aficionados take heart: there is no need to cancel your next dive. The small brackets used in today’s braces, especially ceramic, will NOT attract attention from unsavory fish or sea life.

 

Caring for Braces & Retainers

Wire Poking & Irritation
If a wire causes irritation, push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-Tip. If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax, a cotton ball, or a piece of sugarless gum until you can see an orthodontist in our Long Beach dentist office for an adjustment.

Loose Wire on Back Teeth
If the main wire has come out of the tube on your back molar tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle-nosed pliers or tweezers. If the wire is not poking you, place a piece of wax over the area. If the wire is poking you and wax does not help, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or toenail clipper close to the back of the last brace. This is a last resort if an orthodontist is unavailable.

Spacer Fell Out
In case a rubber spacer falls out, take two pieces of dental floss and insert them through the spacer. Pull on both pieces of floss to stretch the spacer, then slide the spacer back and forth between the two teeth where it belongs. Once the bottom half of the spacer slips under the tight spot between the teeth, release and remove the floss and the spacer will fit back properly.

Loose Bracket
If a bracket becomes loose, it usually remains connected to the main wire. Eyebrow tweezers can be used to reposition the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Call our orthodontist office and inform us of your situation and we will schedule you for a repair appointment.

Appliance Breaks
If a piece of your braces breaks, save the piece and call our office to schedule a repair visit. Please bring it to your appointment. Your braces have a specific prescription for your teeth and thus, if possible, your own brace should be replaced as soon as possible.

Remain calm if you swallow a piece of your appliance. This will usually go into the stomach, passing out of the body in a bowel movement. However, should difficulty breathing be experienced you should seek immediate medical attention. X-rays will be taken to determine the location of the swallowed piece.

If a retainer cracks, remove the retainer from your mouth and bring all the pieces to our office for professional repair.

Pain or Discomfort
Take aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen (unless allergic) for temporary relief of discomfort caused by adjustments.

If a sore develops in your mouth you may use Orabase for relief.

 

For more information about our dentist office in Long Beach, please contact us today!

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