Orthodontics LA

Life with Braces

Posted on November 30, 2018

Now that you’ve got new braces, you’ll need to know how to take care of them correctly, so they can correct your smile. Life with braces isn’t as terrible as the media portrays it, but it does require some maintenance. Here’s what braces patients should know about their braces.

How do I clean my teeth with braces?

For the most part, cleaning your teeth with braces shouldn’t change too much. Since food and drinks can easily get stuck in between the brackets and wires now, you will want to be a lot more diligent about brushing and flossing, though. It’s important to keep things clean, so your teeth aren’t stained or decayed once you get your braces off. Patients with poor hygiene are prone to cavities and gingival inflammation.

  • Brushing: Orthodontists recommend brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal (at least 2 – 3 times a day) when you have braces. Food particles can get stuck and cause plaque to damage the enamel. If you have school or work, bring a portable toothbrush and toothpaste. At the very least, patients should thoroughly rinse their mouths with water after meals or snacks.
  • Flossing: One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is by flossing. When you have braces, it can be a little more difficult to get the floss between wires and brackets, but there are tons of options available to make it easy. There’s traditional floss, floss threaders, superfloss, pre-strung floss sticks, and even water flossers. Try flossing at least once a day to get rid of plaque buildup.
  • Fluoride mouthwash: Using fluoride can greatly strengthen and protect the teeth. Though it’s not a substitute for brushing or flossing, patients can use mouthwash to freshen up and build enamel strength.

What can I eat with braces?

There are a few diet changes that patients who get braces will need to take into consideration. It can be difficult to give up some of your favorite foods, but avoiding them will make the orthodontic process much easier. During your first week with braces, we highly recommend taking a look at our suggested foods list. Your mouth may be a little sore from the pressure exerted on your teeth, so eating certain foods could make your mouth hurt.

In general, soft foods low in sugar are great for braces. Here’s a list of suggested foods, especially for when your mouth is feeling a little sensitive from the braces:

  • Dairy products: Soft cheese, yogurt, pudding, and ice cream
  • Bread: Soft muffins, waffles, pancakes, tortillas
  • Grains: Cooked rice, pasta, oatmeal, porridge
  • Meat and seafood: Boneless grilled or steamed meat and poultry, meatloaf
  • Fruits: Bananas, avocados, soft mangos, diced melon, apple sauce
  • Vegetables: Mashed potatoes, soft peas and carrots, beans, tomatoes, steamed veggies
  • Other: Jello, tofu

As for the foods that could damage your teeth, they include but are not limited to:

  • Hard, chewy foods: Bagels, pretzels, nuts, corn, beef jerky,
  • Crunchy, crispy foods: Chips, popcorn, hard fruits, hard shell tacos, carrot sticks, celery, granola
  • Sticky foods: Caramel, gum, taffy, dried fruit

Use your best judgment when it comes to picking meals and snacks when you have braces. Though it might taste great at the moment, you may regret eating something that’s hard or sticky if it gets stuck in your braces or cracks a bracket.

How often should I see the orthodontist?

For braces patients, it’s recommended to see the orthodontist for adjustments every 3 – 5 weeks, depending on your treatment plan. Most patients will start to see results in 18 – 24 months.

Can I still play sports with braces?

Patients who are involved in sports can still engage in them as long as they are well protected. Contact sports like wrestling football, hockey, basketball, etc have a high risk of injury, so most dentists and orthodontists recommend using a mouthguard if you plan on playing these sports. It can be difficult to find a mouthguard that fits your teeth and braces, but the orthodontist can create a custom protective mouthguard.

What if my braces hurt?

After getting your braces adjusted or fitted for the first time, it’s common to feel a little tenderness or pain. These aches are from the pressure being exerted on the teeth to move into the correct place, so don’t be too concerned. If you feel the metal poking into your mouth, use wax to soften the edges and gargle warm salt water to alleviate pain. Your lips and teeth can become agitated as they adapt to the new appliances, but you’ll get used to it in time.

Sometimes, the soreness can be more painful. In this case, check with your doctor and ask your orthodontist if it’s okay to use mild pain relievers. The pain should go away in a week or two. Let your orthodontist know if it continues to be a problem, so he or she can fix it.

Loose teeth are another common concern for orthodontic patients. Before your treatment, the doctor should have examined your teeth and gums for stability, so there’s no risk of losing any teeth. Though the teeth may seem loose because they are moving, they’ll become anchored once they’re in the correct position.

What if my bands are loose?

Wires, brackets, and bands can come loose over time, but it’s nothing to worry about. Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible and they can repair your braces. We encourage patients to keep an open line of communication with their orthodontists if they encounter any problems. Delaying braces repairs can prolong treatment time and make it much more difficult.

What happens if I have an orthodontic emergency?

If you’re involved in an accident and a bracket pops off or wire is broken, call our office immediately! The orthodontist has the appropriate tools and expertise to treat an orthodontic emergency. We recommend getting treatment immediately before serious damage can be inflicted. For patients who are also suffering a concussion or other non-orthodontic-related injury, head to the emergency room.