BRACES

Types of Braces

Patients have a few options when it comes to wearing braces these days. Traditional metal braces are the most commonly used braces, however, clear or tooth-colored braces are becoming increasingly popular. Invisible removable aligners (Invisalign®) may also be an option for patients who are more self-conscious about treatment.

Metal Braces

Metal brackets are the most commonly used braces. They are made of stainless steel and/or titanium and are bonded directly to the teeth. Most patients have the option of adding colored elastics over the brackets, which can be changed at each appointment, to add color and style.

Clear Braces

Clear or ceramic brackets offer most of the same benefits of metal brackets, but are made of materials that are less visible. Ceramic brackets are a popular option for adults and teenagers that wish to minimize the appearance of braces.

LIFE WITH BRACES

WHAT TO EXPECT

Once braces are on, patients will find that they do not limit or interfere with their day to day activities.

General Soreness

Patients may feel general soreness initially and their teeth may be tender when biting down for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse the mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take whatever medicine normally taken for headaches 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. Patients can put wax on the braces to lessen this discomfort.

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 become rigidly fixed in their new – corrected – positions once treatment is complete.

Playing Sports and Musical Instruments

Patients can still play sports, but we recommend that they wear a mouthguard. Patients can also continue to play musical instruments. It may take some time to adjust to playing with braces, but after a week or two of practice, it should be fine.

EATING WITH BRACES

The first thing most people want to know is, what can be eaten? For the first couple of days, patients will want to stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, they will be able to bite into an apple again, but it's important for patients to protect their braces when they eat until they are removed.

Foods to Avoid
  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods to bite into like corn on the cob, apples, carro

CARING FOR BRACES

Avoid chewing on hard non-food items such as pens, pencils or fingernails. These activities can break off braces or cause wires to poke out. In the same way, picking at the braces or pulling on the wires should also be avoided. Any damage to appliances, such as broken braces or poking wires, may cause discomfort and set back treatment progress leading to longer treatment time.

HYGIENE TIPS

When wearing braces, it’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly. Getting cavities in the teeth and having sore puffy gums, not only slows down treatment, but may require removal of the braces and the need to stop treatment altogether. When braces are removed, we want patients to have teeth that are not only straight, but healthy and cavity free too!

Brushing with Braces

Using a soft toothbrush, brush above and below the braces using a small circular motion. Food and plaque will especially collect between the braces and gums so make sure to concentrate on this area specifically, tilting the bristles of the brush alternatively toward the gums and toward the braces. The chewing surfaces and insides of the teeth will be easier to clean, but don’t forget them too! Ultrasonic and electric toothbrushes are highly recommended as they can help do a more thorough job. However, whether using specialized or regular toothbrushes, patients should be spending about 2 minutes brushing their teeth and making sure to get every tooth.

Flossing with Braces

To floss, thread some floss through a floss threader and then insert this behind the archwire. Draw the floss between the teeth and with an up-and-down motion extending under the gums, cleaning the teeth on both sides. Other tools such as interproximal brushes may be used in addition to floss, but should not be a substitute for it.

COMMON ISSUES

No need to be worried if a wire, band or bracket comes loose! These things happen sometimes, but please make sure to call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing braces to remain damaged for an extended period of time may disrupt treatment duration. Please refer to the braces diagram below to know the names of the parts and identify what is broken or out of place.

TEMPORARY FIXES

In the meantime, patients may be able to temporarily alleviate discomfort from the problem until their scheduled repair appointment. Here are some suggestions that may help.

Loose Bracket or Band

If a bracket or band becomes loose but is still attached to the wire, please leave it in place and put wax on it. If the bracket or band comes off entirely, patients should put it in a safe container or plastic bag and bring it to their appointment.

Loose Wire

Using a tweezer, try to put the wire back into place, and use wax to reduce any irritation. If doing this doesn’t help, as a last resort, use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If discomfort continues, patients should place wax on it again until their appointment.

Poking Wire

Using a pencil eraser, patients should push the poking wire down or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.

Headgear discomfort

Sometimes headgear can cause some initial discomfort but tends to hurt less, the more it is worn. Discomfort can be caused by not wearing it properly so please re-check instructions to make sure that everything is correct. If the facebow is bent, please call our office for assistance. If discomfort is a consistent problem, then patients should discuss it with us at their next appointment.

Appliances that Compliment Braces

Patients may require additional appliances to compliment their treatment. These appliances may speed up treatment duration and help to achieve proper alignment of the jaw and teeth. Patients will need to follow instructions for wear in order to be successful and meet the anticipated duration timelines.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. In many cases, proper wear of rubber bands as instructed is critical in achieving the desired final alignment in a timely manner.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. In many cases, proper wear of rubber bands as instructed is critical in achieving the desired final alignment in a timely manner.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. In many cases, proper wear of rubber bands as instructed is critical in achieving the desired final alignment in a timely manner.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. In many cases, proper wear of rubber bands as instructed is critical in achieving the desired final alignment in a timely manner.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. In many cases, proper wear of rubber bands as instructed is critical in achieving the desired final alignment in a timely manner.

Retainers after Braces

After treatment with braces, it's important to wear a retainer, so that teeth remain straight and beautiful for a lifetime. Teeth will continue to move and shift over time, unless stopped by something, and retainers prevent that movement, holding teeth in their new, corrected position after they have been straightened. Click here to read more about caring for retainers.