Caring For My Braces – Braces Do’s And Don’t’s
Eating with Braces
What can you eat? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! If you’ve been wanting to drop a few pounds, the first week wearing braces is just your chance! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces.
Cut your food into small pieces and chew carefully to avoid breaking, bending or loosening the bands/brackets.
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
- Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
- Sticky foods: dodol, caramels, gum
- Hard foods: nuts, candy
- Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
- Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.
Remember to always brush and rinse after a meal/snack!
Please make sure you have a toothbrush with you at all times (travel toothbrush is recommended).
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five
days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!
Loosening of Teeth
This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new – corrected – positions.
Care of Appliances
To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.
It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.
As far as frequency of brushing is concerned, you must brush your teeth after each meal.
The first rule of brushing is to start from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side and all the way through the whole mouth so that you end where you started. This way you won’t miss any area. Also usually a pea size of tooth paste is enough. A good brushing should at lease take 2 minutes and ideally around 4 minutes.
The next thing to consider when cleaning your teeth is that there are three surfaces of each tooth that need to be brushed. These surfaces are:
- The Outside
- The Inside
- The Chewing Side
When brushing the outside of your teeth you should try to make a 45 degree angle toward the gum line between the head of your toothbrush and the tooth itself. Repeat this motion 6 to 10 times and move on to the next area of 2 to 3 teeth.
It is especially important to make sure the area between the brace and the gum stays clean.
Try to focus on a few teeth at a time. Make sure these teeth are completely free of food and plaque before moving to the next few. Once you’re done with the outsides of the top and bottom teeth you
can move to the insides.
When brushing the inside surfaces of your teeth try to maintain the 45 degree angle towards the gum line as you did with the outside surfaces. Again, focus on just a few teeth at a time and make sure that they are clean before moving on.
The Chewing Side:
Cleaning the chewing sides of the teeth should be straight forward. Remember to focus on a few teeth at a time prior to moving on to the next ones.
Flossing with braces takes a few minutes to master, but the effort is well worth it. The best type of floss to use with braces is called Superfloss. The people at Oral-B make it and it can be found in the dental aisle of most supermarkets and drug stores. The nice thing about Superfloss is that one end is stiff so threading it under the braces is easy. The other end is fuzzy and really helps to get around all surfaces of the braces.
The first step to flossing is getting the floss under the wire that connects the braces together.
Once the floss is under the archwire it can be wrapped around the tooth on one side. The floss is then pushed up toward the gum line and then pulled down toward the wire. This should be repeated four to five times to ensure all plaque is removed. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the wire as you pull down. Then wrap the floss around the neighboring tooth. Once both teeth are done, the floss is pulled out and the process repeated for the next two teeth.
Electric Brush Versus Manual Brushes
There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.
Although not all the electric brushes are the same, in conclusion of all these studies it is fair to say that in general electric brushes are more effective in controlling the plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically you could do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush but the movements of an electric brush makes the task easier and more efficient. Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) have sonic vibration that is difficult to mimic with a hand brush! Other electric brushes like Oral-B and Rotadent have small heads that help you reach hard to reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about somebody with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.
If you play sports, it’s important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.
Sports mouth guards are soft rubber or plastic appliances which are worn in the mouth to help prevent injures to the teeth and gums. Just as automotive seat belts can help prevent injuries, Mouth Guards can cushion an accidental blow to the face helping to prevent or minimize injury to the teeth, jaws, and gums. Mouth Guards are not just for Hockey Players.