Braces require a certain level of care and maintenance, are you wondering exactly what that looks like? Keep reading to learn more about the care that your braces need and what to do in emergencies.
Should you have an urgent orthodontic issue, please contact our office as soon as possible.
What to expect when your braces are placed and how to handle it
When your braces are placed, it is normal for your teeth and soft structures in the mouth to experience soreness and tenderness. This is both normal and completely temporary, it is only while your mouth gets used to the new appliance. To get some relief from the soreness, you can break down a teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm temperature water. Once you have your saltwater, swish, and gargle it in your mouth for a few minutes, be careful not to swallow any of the water.
If you experience a level of pain that cannot be relived with rinsing, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to soothe the tenderness. Some patients also experience irritation of the lips, cheeks, and tongue for up to 14 days. This irritation is caused by the friction of the metal braces rubbing up against the soft tissue. To lessen the friction, we recommend applying orthodontic wax. You can ask us for wax at your next appointment or purchase it at your neighborhood pharmacy.
Even if you follow all of the care instructions, the wires and bands on your braces can become loose. If you notice looseness in your wires or bands, call us as soon as possible to schedule a checkup and repair appointment. If one or more pieces of your appliance fall completely off, collect it in an envelope or Ziploc bag and bring it to your repair appointment. While you are waiting for your repair appointment, you can use the concave part of the spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to reposition the loose wire by applying gentle pressure. The loose wire may irritate your lips or cheeks, if this happens, place orthodontic wax or even a wet cotton ball on the broken wire to provide a barrier between it and your soft tissue.
Playing Sports with Braces
When you decide to undergo orthodontic treatment with braces, you have to sacrifice some of your favorite foods and change some of your habits. One thing you do not have to change is your love for sports! You can continue to play all of the sports that you enjoy competing in, just ask your doctor to recommend the correct mouthguard to protect your smile and appliance to the maximum. If you do experience a sports emergency, stop, recover your breath and check your mouth and appliance for damage. If during your inspection, you detect any loose teeth, bleeding, or damage to your appliance, call us right away. You can gain temporary pain relief by applying wax to any poking wires and gargling a warm saltwater rinse.
Brushing Your Teeth with Braces
As we mentioned from the beginning, having braces requires a certain level of care and maintenance. For best results, brush and floss your teeth following each meal to encourage your teeth and gums to be their healthiest during treatment. Remember, healthy teeth move faster and more accurately. If you are unsure about your brushing technique, your choice of a toothbrush, toothpaste, or dental floss, we can advise you during any of your appointments, just ask!
What can you eat with braces?
During your orthodontic treatment with braces, there are certain foods that you will need to avoid. But there is no need to worry, this will be a small price to pay to get the amazing results that you have always wanted. And once your braces are removed, you can go back to enjoying all the gum and popcorn that your heart desires.
Foods that can damage braces
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
Foods that are safe to eat with braces
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
The Retention Phase
- Once you have your braces removed, the hard work continues to keep your beautiful new smile.
- The first thing to remember is to always wear your retainer until your doctor tells you not to.
- Store your retainer in its case while eating, the most popular places to lose your retainer is a restaurant or lunchroom.
- Keep your retainer clean by brushing it with care at least once per day using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Be sure to use warm water but not hot water. Brushing your retainer will allow you to remove plaque and do away with unwanted odors. For an extra clean feeling, you can soak your appliance in Efferdent or other specialized cleaners but remember that this soaking does not replace brushing.
- The golden rule to remember is that if your retainer is not in your mouth, it should always be in its case. Pets are known to mistake retainers for chew toys.
- When you first begin wearing your retainer, you may notice some difficulty speaking naturally. This is temporary while you become accustomed to your appliance. To speed up the process, try practicing in private by singing or reading out loud.
- Keep in mind that retainers are delicate appliances that can break if mistreated and will require an additional expense to replace. If you break or lose your retainer, call us immediately.
- If there are still some unresolved questions or concerns regarding your retainer or it feels “off”, call us. We never recommend trying to adjust a retainer on your own.
- Be sure to bring your retainer to your appointments. Remember to remove your retainer if you go swimming and keep it away from any hot surfaces.
Fortunately, true orthodontic emergencies do not occur often. But if you do find yourself experiencing an orthodontic emergency, we are here for you. We recommend you call us any time you suffer any severe pain or your appliance is too uncomfortable despite following our recommendations. In these cases, we will schedule a time for you to come into the office for us to evaluate and fix the problem. Many times, we will also be able to provide instructions for a temporary solution over the phone. If any pieces come off of your appliance, save them in an envelope or plastic bag and bring them to your appointment. To relieve any irritation, place orthodontic wax on any part that is rubbing or poking.
If you treat your emergency at home, remember that it is a temporary fix and you should still call our office to schedule a checkup and repair appointment. Failing to repair a damaged appliance will likely lead to delays in your treatment.