Life with 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.

Eating with Braces

Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn 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.


Your appliances can be bent or broken by eating hard or sticky foods.  Please protect the braces by avoiding the following foods:  taffy, ice, caramel, hard or chewy candy, and hard snack foods.  Examples:  Now and Laters, Sugar Daddies and Fireballs. 

Be careful eating the following foods.  They should be cut into bite size pieces:  apples, hard bread, carrots, hard rolls, tough meat, and raw vegetables.

Nuts and popcorn should be avoided since pieces can get caught under your gums and possibly cause infection.

  1. Cut down on sugary foods and carbonated soft drinks.  Whenever you do eat something sweet, brush your teeth immediately afterward.  If you can't brush right away, swish your mouth out with water and chew sugarless gum to help reduce the acids in your mouth and reduce the risk of decay.
  2. Hard foods are not the only thing that can break your braces.  Be sure to keep foreign objects out of your mouth.  Pencils, fingernails, toothpicks, and other objects can break your braces.
  3. Make sure you keep every appointment.  Missing appointments slows down your treatment.
  4. Your teeth may be sore for a few days after your visits.  This is to be expected.  In fact, this is a sign your teeth are moving.  Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen and chewing sugarless gum will help relieve some of the soreness.
  5. If you wear headgear or elastics, we need your help by wearing them as instructed.  This part of the treatment is accomplished by your efforts.
  6. Our tooth brushing "System and Technique" has been explained to you.  Please follow instructions so your teeth and appliances will remain clean.  Foods can get trapped in and around the braces, so you might want to carry a toothbrush with you.
  7. As your teeth move, it is normal for them to become loose.  After the braces are removed and retainers are placed, they will tighten up.
  8. If a wire is sticking in your lip or cheek, put some wax on it until you can come to the office to have it checked.  Wax is also good to use on a bracket if it is rubbing your tissue and causing a sore.  Wax is available at the office.  Just let us know when you need some.



Both decay and gum problems are caused by bacterial plaque.  If we could remove all the plaque perfectly each day, we would not have problems and would never have cavities.  You need to make every effort to use the methods you have been shown to remove all the plaque from around your braces and off your teeth.  Since it is impossible to remove all the plaque perfectly, we must have help from other methods of decay prevention, be sure to continue to see your dentist for your regular six-month checkups!


The Problems That Poor Oral Hygiene Can Cause

1. The white marks left on your teeth around your braces are called decalcification and these marks will remain on your teeth for life.  The best way to avoid decalcification is not to let it develop at all.

2. Periodontal (gum) disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in 3 stages.  In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums.  Your gums may be red, puffy or swollen.  They may bleed when you brush or floss.  This infection is called gingivitis.

3.  Over time, infection and inflammation in the gums can spread to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth.  The gums start to pull away, forming gaps or pockets between your teeth allowing more plaque to accumulate.  This disease is called periodontitis.

4. Pockets of bacteria can form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth in place.  This can cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out.  This disease is called advanced periodontitis.



The importance of diet control during orthodontics cannot be overemphasized.  A person who eats sweets on a regular basis between meals will very likely have unsightly spots on their teeth when their braces are removed.  Since most orthodontic patients will eat snacks between meals daily, it is important to know what snacks are acceptable and have them available.  We cannot make a complete list, so as a rule, if you know it contains lots of sugar and especially if it is sticky, it is not a good snack choice. 


Fruits:  apples (cut in pieces), peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries

Veggies:  carrots (cut in pieces), broccoli, celery, cucumbers, green peppers

Snacks:  cheese, bologna, ham, pepperoni, sugar-free yogurt, unsweetened cereals, high fiber breads, rye crackers, peanut butter, sugar-free Jello, sugarless gum

Drinks:  sugar-free soft drinks, juices, milk and water


We get fluoride at our regular dental checkups, in our drinking water, and in our toothpaste.  Fluoride mouth rinses used daily are also very helpful in preventing decay.  These can be pruchased in any drug store.  We will be happy to recommend a brand if you'd like.



Playing Sports with Braces

Game, Set, Match — we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it's recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.


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