Braces are a great way to straighten teeth, correct bite problems, improve your appearance, and increase your self-esteem. However, in order to achieve the best possible outcome, there are things you must do to ensure that your braces remain clean and in good condition. Knowing what to expect, and how to care for your braces, will ensure your braces can do their job efficiently.
What to Expect with Braces
Once your braces are attached to your teeth, there is an adjustment period of about 3-7 days. During that time, you may have difficulty speaking around your braces and closing your lips completely. You may also experience soreness in your cheeks, gums and teeth. If you are experiencing discomfort from a specific bracket, you can place a little orthodontic wax over the bracket to help prevent excessive rubbing, which can cause sores, until your mouth adjusts.
Loosening of Teeth
The process of straightening your teeth involves moving them into their desired positions. This can cause your teeth to feel loose in your mouth. Some individuals may even notice that their teeth are slightly loose for the entire duration of treatment. However, this is completely normal, and your teeth will become secure and tight in your jaw after your braces are removed. If you are concerned about an overly loose tooth during your treatment, you can schedule an appointment to ensure your orthodontic treatment is progressing normally.
Broken Brackets and Wires
Even if you are eating the right foods and brushing your teeth regularly, you may still experience a broken bracket or wire. If a bracket comes loose, you can secure it with a bit of orthodontic wax to prevent completely losing the bracket or having the bracket rub against your cheeks, gums or lips. If a wire breaks, press the end back into its desired location and put some orthodontic wax on the broken end of the wire to prevent mouth injuries. Once the bracket and/or wire is secured, schedule an appointment to have your braces repaired.
Losing a Band
The orthodontic bands attached to your braces can become loose as your teeth shift. This is perfectly normal. However, a loose band can cause problems. If you have a loose band, take steps to remove it with a pair of tweezers and place it in a clean plastic bag until your next orthodontic appointment or call and schedule an appointment to have a new band placed. Avoiding hard and chewy foods helps prevent this type of problem from happening.
Handling Soreness After an Adjustment
In order to effectively straighten your teeth in a timely manner, your braces will need to be periodically adjusted, which could be anywhere from every three to eight weeks. After each adjustment, you may experience some soreness. This can usually be relieved by taking an over-the-counter pain medication, like Tylenol or Advil, and eating soft foods for the first 24 to 48 hours after getting your braces adjusted. Using a combination of Tylenol and Advil is actually more effective than either medication alone. All of our patients differ in their pain response and tolerance so some will need pain relievers while others may find this unnecessary.
Eating with Braces
While you are wearing braces, you will need to make changes to your diet and how you eat in order to prevent cavities and avoid breaking a bracket or wire. As a general rule, you should avoid excessively sticky and sweet foods that can become stuck to your brackets, like caramels, certain breads and dried fruits. You’ll also want to avoid hard foods that may break your brackets, including apples, carrots, nuts, corn on the cob, tough meats and hard candies. If you want to eat foods, like pizza, meat and raw vegetables, it is best to cut the foods into small pieces before consuming. Once you are finished eating or drinking, you will need to thoroughly brush your teeth in order to remove all the food particles from your mouth and around your braces.
Proper Brushing and Flossing
Proper brushing and flossing is essential in order to prevent cavities and tooth decay around the brackets of your braces. It is typically recommended that in addition to brushing in the morning and before bed, you should brush after every meal or snack.
Prior to brushing and flossing your teeth, you may need to remove all the removable parts from your braces, which could include headgear and elastics. When you brush, make sure to brush along every surface of the tooth and around each bracket in order to remove all food particles and any plaque that may be present.
When flossing, remember to floss above and below each wire. If you are uncertain as to how to floss with braces, our orthodontist can give you tips and tricks to help you, and recommend flossing products that are compatible with braces. We also have videos on our website about caring for your braces.
Participating in Athletics and Sports with Braces
You can still participate in sports, athletics and outdoor recreational activities with braces. However, you must wear a mouthguard that fits snugly around your teeth and braces in order to prevent injuries from getting hit in the mouth by an object or another person. In order to ensure your mouthguard fits properly, it is best to get a custom mouthguard from your orthodontist. During your mouthguard appointment a custom mold of your teeth using a special dental material. This ensures that your mouthguard is comfortable to wear and provides the best possible protection against damage to your teeth and gums from accidental impacts. Once the mold is made, it will be sent to a laboratory, and your mouthguard will be custom made for you.
If you’re thinking about getting braces for either yourself or your child, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Laster to learn how we make smiles happen!
At Laster Orthodontics, we help families develop healthy, life-changing smiles using customized treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and caring relationships. Our individualized treatment plans help our patients achieve their perfect smile in the quickest, most painless way possible by utilizing a wide range of options from traditional braces to Propel accelerated treatment to Dr. Laster's in-house aligner program, Laster Perfect Smile. With three locations throughout the Triangle Area, we create life-changing smiles every day.