When you’re in treatment with metal or ceramic braces, you will have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle. You will have to pay more attention to what you eat, how you clean your teeth, and how to protect your mouth when playing sports. You’ll find in the end that these changes are not that big of a deal, and these small sacrifices will be worth the healthy and beautiful smile waiting for you on the other end of your orthodontic treatment.
What to eat
There are two things you have to be careful of when eating in braces.
The first is that you don’t want to stress your jaw because the force can damage the appliances or cause brackets to pop off. That means you should avoid foods that are crunchy or really chewy.
The second is you don’t want foods to sit in your appliances that can’t easily be removed with brushing and flossing. The food can lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues. That means you should avoid sticky, gummy sweets.
More specifically, some foods to avoid include things like popcorn, chips, nuts, hard candy, bagels, licorice, caramel, chewing gum, taffy, corn on the cob, apples, and carrots. Note you can cut up apples and carrots or remove corn kernels off the cob with a knife before eating. As long as you’re not stressing your jaw, you’re OK. And most foods are fine to eat, including cheese, yogurt, meat and chicken (as long as it’s not tough), bananas, pasta, rice, and so on.
When you first get your braces on or after you have the wires tightened, you’re teeth may feel a little sore. This is normal and only temporary. After a few days, the soreness will go away. Until then, you can relieve the soreness by swishing warm salt water around your mouth a few times a day (1 tsp. salt per 8 oz. water). You can also take over-the-counter pain relief like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
As your mouth gets used to the braces, the insides of your mouth may feel irritated at first. We will give you some dental wax to put over the braces. After a week or so, you probably won’t need it anymore.
Your teeth may also feel a little loose when in treatment. This is typical and nothing to worry about.
Cleaning Your Teeth
Cleaning your teeth will take a little more time, and we recommend that you do it after every meal or at least three times a day. You’ll brush your teeth with a toothbrush like normal, and there are all sorts of other dental tools that can help clean hard-to-reach places in your appliances. These include superfloss, floss threaders, proxa brushes, and Water-piks to name a few. Exactly which tools to use will depend on the braces you have and your personal preferences. Ask us for recommendations.
Loose Brackets and Wires
Your brackets are affixed to your teeth with a special type of orthodontic glue, and like any glue, this bond can fail. If you find that a bracket has loosened or fallen off, first be sure not to swallow it. Give us a call, and we’ll fix the issue as soon as we can. Likewise, if a wire comes loose, let us know quickly so we can arrange a time for you to come in to the office.
Protecting Your Braces
If you play sports, we highly recommend you wear a mouthguard. There are mouthguards to avoid if you’re in braces and others that are well suited for people in orthodontics. Ask us for our recommendations.