Home Care for Braces
Having braces and being under regular dental care does not mean you can or should slack on your dental care at home. Braces will attract food and plaque which can lead to cavities and stained teeth if proper care is not taken. Taking extra good care of your teeth can also shorten the length of time you have to have your braces on for. Please read the following tips and follow them diligently to make the most of wearing braces and bringing out your most beautiful smile.
- Use a soft round-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
- Brush well following each meal or snack. If you forgot your toothbrush, at least rinse with water.
- Brush all surfaces of your teeth and around your braces using medium pressure.
- Clean the edges of your gums and tongue also.
- Proper brushing should take 3-5 minutes when wearing braces.
- How can you tell you’re doing a good job? Your braces will appear clean and shiny, and you can see the edges of the brackets easily. Metal will appear dull when brushed poorly.
- Braces will wear your toothbrush out more quickly, so be sure to replace it as soon as you notice it wearing down.
Use a floss threader every night. Floss threaders are reusable tools that will help you to get the floss under the wires.
Probably one of the hardest things about having braces is giving up one or two of your favorite snacks, but there are always healthy alternatives to whatever it is you are craving.
Foods to avoid while wearing braces:
- Foods that require hard biting: corn on the cob, carrots, ribs, chicken wings, apples
- Hard foods: hard candies, nuts
- Chewy foods: pizza crust, French bread, bagels, licorice
- Sticky foods: gummy candy, gum, caramel
- Crunchy foods: chips, ice, lollipops, pretzels, popcorn
Here are some soft foods you can enjoy all the time, especially when your mouth is sore:
- Fruits: berries, smoothies, juice, applesauce, bananas
- Meat: meatballs, lunch meat, tender meats
- Dairy: pudding, yogurts, cottage cheese, other soft cheeses, milk-based drinks
- Grains: rice, pasta
- Vegetables: beans, steamed veggies
You may also find it possible to occasionally enjoy your favorites on the “no” list by opting for softer versions of these items. For example, thinner crust pizza and thinner chips such as Pringles are better choices. Cashews, pecans, and walnuts are all softer nuts to consume as well.
Activities to Avoid
- Nail biting
- Chewing on hard items such as pens or ice cubes
For Musicians and
- Wear a mouth guard during sports. One of our orthodontists can recommend the proper type to fit over your dental appliances.
- Liberally using wax and salt water rinses will help musicians to toughen their lips and cheeks, experience less sores, and find proper lip position.
We are always here to help when you need us! In the event of an orthodontic emergency such as a broken appliance or you experience intense oral pain, please call us immediately. We will do our best to get you in that day for an appointment. Do not hesitate even if you have an upcoming appointment on another day in this situation.
Since most orthodontic problems can be treated at home, here are some helpful tips while you await your appointment.
It is common to lose a separator at some point during your treatment. Do not panic, but please give us a call. We will let you know if it needs to be replaced.
Sore Teeth/Discomfort Following Treatment
Soreness is normal after receiving your braces or after an adjustment. To relieve the pain, you may take Tylenol or other non-aspirin pain relievers. You may also make a saltwater gargle by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. If your jaws are sore, try using a heating pad or warm wash cloth.
Unfortunately, mouth sores inside the cheeks, on the lips, or on your tongue is common from the brackets on traditional braces. To relieve this pain, use a topical anesthetic to relieve the pain such as Ora-Gel or Orabase. Try using some wax on the rough spot of your braces to keep it from causing further problems.
Gently move a wire away from the area it is irritating with an eraser or cotton swab. If you cannot get it to move, cover the end of it with a small piece of cotton or wax. You may also cut the end of the wire with nail clips or scissors that are first washed and sterilized by using alcohol.
Give us a call if a bracket is loose; it may need to be re-fitted. You can also use sterilized fingernail clippers to cut the wire or slide the bracket off the wire.
Sterilize a pair of tweezers by washing them and then cleaning them with alcohol. Then, use the tweezers to put the wire in place. If this does not fix the problem, put wax over the wire where it is causing discomfort. If you must, you can cut the wire with fingernail clippers sterilized with alcohol. Cut the wire behind the last bracket where it is secured.
Headgear Does Not Fit
Pain from headgear is usually a result of not wearing it long enough. Make sure you are following our instructions and wear it for the appropriate amount of time each day. Call for an appointment if the facebow is bent. Do not attempt to adjust it yourself.