Braces Are a Big Step

You’ve taken a big step by having braces put on. It’s an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve.

You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile.

Tips for Living With Braces

For most patients, life with braces is no big deal. You may experience some discomfort the first day or two after each appointment, but that’s normal since your teeth are on the move. Think of it as your confirmation that everything is going well!

Some patients say they don’t experience any discomfort, others keep the Advil or Tylenol handy for a couple of days.

At Smith and Heymann Orthodontics, the wires we use are actually activated by the natural body heat in your mouth so having a cool drink or treating yourself to some ice cream is also a great way to send the discomfort packing.

When you first start orthodontic treatment in Chapell Hill, Durham, Mebane, or Roxboro, we’ll set you up with a new patient kit designed to help you have a comfortable experience.

You can also find information about cleaning your teeth while in treatment and making good food choices.

 

More Helpful Tips

  • We recommend you use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head. Electric and sonic toothbrushes are also great choices.
  • Brush your teeth after meals and snacks.
  • If you have eaten while away from home, use your interdental brush to dislodge any food that may get caught around your braces.
  • Rinsing with water is another way to dislodge food from your braces, and to keep sugar from sitting on your teeth.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • We recommend that you have a check-up with your dentist every six months.
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Care & Maintenance

Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure 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, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.

Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Use a 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

You’ve probably heard from friends and family members who have worn braces that you won’t be able to eat some of your favorite foods while you’re in treatment. That’s true - if your favorite food is hard candy:-).

Truth is - you can eat most anything as long as you avoid anything that might cause you to lose a bracket, break a wire, or get tangled up in goo.

Here’s a simple, helpful guide to help you avoid any issues. Feel free to print this list out and put it up on the fridge.

Foods You Can Eat

  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Bread — 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, sliced fruit, most berries (but watch out for seeds)
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, cakes

Foods to Avoid

  • Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
  • Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum (sugar-free gum is okay)
  • Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
  • Foods you have to bite into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Bad Habits

There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of 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.

 

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s 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, Bands, & Brackets

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the 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, Bracket, or Tie

Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating 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 your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Following instructions is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.

 

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 the liberal use of wax and warm saltwater rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.