Life with Braces
Taking care of your braces
Once you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s vitally important to know how to take care of your braces all through your orthodontic treatment. Eating some foods, for instance, might loosen the braces, although you might not know that you have a problem until hours or even days later. This will inevitably lead to treatment time being extended.
Eating when you wear braces
Don’t worry; you’ll be eating the things you love and snacking on your favourites again in no time! For the first day or so, after braces are fitted it is advised to stick to soft foods. Avoiding tough meats, raw vegetables and hard breads are also good rules. Protect your orthodontic appliances when eating while you’re wearing your braces.
Foods you should avoid with braces
- Chewy foods toffee and crunchy foods like popcorn
- Sticky foods caramel, chewing gum
- Hard foods, nuts, hard sweets
- Foods that require biting into corn on the cob, carrots, sandwiches, apples
Eating these foods can loosen braces, although you might not immediately be aware of it.
Never bite your nails or chew pens
Habitually chewing on hard things like, pens, pencils or your fingernails will risk damage to the braces. Damaged braces cause treatment to be longer.
If you get the feeling that your teeth are a bit loose, this is normal so don’t worry! Braces must first loosen teeth to move them to the right position. Once teeth are repositioned, they won’t be loose.
Loosened wires, bands and brackets
The wires, brackets and bands that are on your braces might loosen. You may have a wire cut or a bracket hat has slid off a wire at night or over the weekend. You can temporarily fix this. If a wire protrudes or irritates, use the back of spoon or the soft eraser end of a pencil to carefully push the irritating wire back into place. Use fingernail clippers that have been washed to cut the wire.
Sometimes an uncomfortable wire on your braces can be moved away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or with an eraser. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues to annoy, place wax or some wet cotton on the broken wire to relieve the irritation. Call us as soon as possible to get an appointment to check and repair the appliance. If any piece comes off completely, save it and bring it to the surgery for us to see.
Soreness that is caused by braces and appliances
When you first wear braces, you may feel soreness or tenderness in your teeth and mouth. This is normal and we promise that your mouth will not be sore for very long! To relieve the pain, swish and gargle with lukewarm salt water for a couple of minutes and then spit out.
If the pain is more severe and is not relieved by rinsing take a painkiller like Paracetamol. It is also not uncommon for lips, cheeks, and tongue to be irritated for a couple of weeks as they adjust to the braces. We can give you some wax to put over the braces make them less tender.
Taking care of your appliances
Complete the treatment plan by working together with the orthodontist. Damaged appliances will increase the length of the treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Teeth and jaws will only move into the correct position if the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed, are worn consistently.
Brushing and caring for your teeth when you are wearing braces
It’s more important than ever that you brush and floss religiously when you wear braces, so teeth and gums are left healthy after your treatment ends. Patients who do not clean well might need more frequent visits to the dentist for professional cleaning. Adults with a history of gum disease should see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment as well. If you need advice on the right toothbrush, toothpaste or dental floss, ask us and we will help you choose the right products for your teeth and for your appliance.
Wearing a brace will make the process to clean your teeth and gums longer. You need not only to brush your teeth morning and evening but you need also to carry a toothbrush so that when you eat away from home you can remove any food that sticks to your brace. Poor brushing can lead, at worst, to decalcification of the teeth that will create permanent white patches on the front of the teeth where the enamel has been weakened. This can also lead to cavities. Decalcification is less common with the use of lingual braces and if it were to occur it would not be visible.
Apart from brushing, using fluoride mouthwashes and tooth mouse are encouraged every evening to help keep teeth and gums healthy. Use disclosing tablets to highlight any areas that you may be having difficulty reaching during your tooth brushing. They will stain areas where plaque is present and alert you to areas you have missed.
Brushing and flossing properly when you’re wearing braces is vital. Use either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush - one with shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles around the edges. Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can also work well. But when you use an electric brush make sure it is set to moderate power and don’t let the vibrations allow the back of the brush to hit braces or brackets! Brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day especially after meals for at least five minutes each time. Don’t forget to brush all tooth surfaces: outside, inside, and the chewing surfaces too. Pay special attention to the areas between the wires and teeth and the areas between brackets and gums - where food particles can easily become trapped.
Beginning with outside surfaces, place bristle tips flat against your teeth then use small circular motions to gently clean them. For areas between the braces and the gums, tilt the brush towards the gum line - down for the bottom teeth and up for the top teeth in circular motions then move on to the chewing surfaces of lower and upper teeth, using a back-and-forth movement. Finish up by carefully brushing the surfaces inside the teeth as you did the outside surfaces.
To clean near the brackets and under the wires, gently use an interdental toothbrush, or a proxabrush that has small tufts of bristles sticking up all around. Another specialised cleaning tool is an oral irrigator or “water pick.” This device will shoot a small stream of pressurized water at the teeth to help dislodge bits of food trapped in nooks and crannies. It’s easy to use, but an oral irrigator is not a substitute for a toothbrush or for dental floss — but when used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it will be very effective.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean, floss at least once every day. Use a floss threader which is something like threading a needle - pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader with the free end of the floss — under the archwire. Hold each end of the floss and slide it up and down the sides of the teeth, all the way under the gums until you hear a squeak. Pull it out and use a new section of floss to move on to the next area.
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is an investment in your future enabling you to get the very best results from the orthodontic treatment, and getting you a brighter smile that will last a lifetime.
Cleaning your appliance
Good oral hygiene is vital when you are wearing an orthodontic appliance. Poor plaque control around the brackets may lead to decay and to permanent damage to the surfaces of the teeth. Daily use of interdental brushes used in and around the appliance will remove plaque from areas that are hard to reach with regular tooth brushing.