Your braces may feel strange at first, but most patients become accustomed to life with braces very quickly. You can still enjoy most if not all activities the same way you used to, but there will be some adjustments to your oral hygiene routine and diet. Though your braces will do most of the work straightening your teeth on their own, they do need to be properly cared for in order to be effective. Here are the basics you should know about living with braces.
Braces are a sturdy orthodontic appliance that are meant to withstand the pressures of eating, but they are still susceptible to damage if you’re not careful. Patients should refrain from eating hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods that could harm their braces. Mishandling your braces could result in extended treatment time and less than ideal results.
Here are a few foods that you should avoid throughout the orthodontic process. Your orthodontist can give you a more comprehensive list, but a little common sense should be enough to tell you whether or not to eat a certain food. Remember, better safe than sorry!
- Beef Jerky
- Dried Fruit
- Granola bars
- Hard taco shells
- Nuts and seeds
Many patients report that their teeth are sore from the pressure of the braces moving them the first few days after an adjustment. If your mouth is sensitive, here are a few foods we suggest eating in the meantime:
- Soft cheese
- Soft tortillas
- Lunch meats
- Crab cakes
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed vegetables
- Ice cream
Food and sugar particles can easily get stuck in the nooks and crannies or the wires or brackets, so it’s important to thoroughly clean them after every meal unless you want cavities and tooth decay. When the teeth aren’t cleaned properly, they can become calcified or stained, leaving unsightly marks after the braces are removed.
Brush thoroughly after every meal to avoid this and make sure to floss daily. If you are having travel maneuvering around the brackets and wires, consider trading your string floss for a waterpik or floss pick. Patients also still need to see the dentist at least twice a year for a checkup even if they see their orthodontist regularly.
Soreness or Pain
As we mentioned above, your teeth and mouth may feel a little tender or sore when you first get your braces or have them adjusted. Not to worry, this is completely normal! As your teeth shift into the position they are supposed to, your mouth will become less sore. For the moment, however, you can swish and gargle salt water to alleviate the pain. If that doesn’t help, you can also take a mild, over-the-counter pain relief medication with the approval of your orthodontist.
Usually, the orthodontist will try to trip wires and make the braces as comfortable as possible, but some patients still experience discomfort if their brackets or wires push into the mouth. Your lips, cheeks, and tongue should become accustomed to the braces after one or two weeks. In the meantime, the orthodontist will provide you with wax to soften any rough edges from your braces.
Loose or Wiggly Teeth
Your teeth may not feel as stable as they usually do, even wiggle or loose. Don’t be alarmed! Braces place pressure on the teeth to move into the correct position by loosening them a little first. Once your teeth are repositioned, they will be fixed in that spot.
Caring For Your Appliances
For our athletic patients, don’t forget to wear mouthguards when you play high contact sports! Your braces, jaws, and teeth are all at risk when you play sports that could potentially involve trauma to the face or head. Always use a mouthguard in addition to all the protective gear provided by your team to stay safe during practice and games. Our orthodontist can design a custom orthodontic mouthguard that fits comfortably on your braces to protect your teeth.
Below are common contact sports that you should consider getting a mouthguard for if you play them:
Should you be involved in a dental injury, head to the emergency room or give us a call. If the bands and wires on your wires do become loose or damaged, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with the orthodontist to get them fixed as soon as possible. They can be dangerous or painful!
Broken appliances can lead to extended treatment time. If you damage your braces or don’t wear the orthodontic accessories as instructed, your results may not be ideal. Make sure to use the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, expanders, etc. as it is advised by your orthodontist!