CONGRATULATIONS! Your orthodontic treatment has begun. With proper care, together we will create a beautiful, healthy smile. Below is some information to help you maintain your orthodontic appliances and make your experience with us more enjoyable.
It is essential to brush your teeth more carefully than you have in the past, so all plaque and food is removed from your teeth and braces. Of particular concern are areas between the braces and gums and under the wire. Plaque accumulation can cause decalcification of the enamel (white spots and cavities) and swelling of the gums. Swollen gums make plaque removal even more difficult. Brushing your teeth well will take a little longer, but the benefits of good brushing are worth the effort.
You have been shown how to use flossing aids (floss threaders and/or Super-floss, by Oral-B) to clean between the teeth and under the gums with the wires in place. Flossing is very important, because your tooth brush cannot reach these arease while you have braces. If you find yourself getting frustrated, please tell us! We will be happy to help you get the hang of it.
Occasionally, the braces or wires may cause an irritated area on the lip, cheeks, or tongue. This is more common when you are first getting used to your braces. To use the wax, locate the part of the braces causing the discomfort, dry it with a paper towel, and press a marble-sized ball of wax on the braces over the offending area. Using plenty and pinching it around the braces will help it stay securely. This will create a smooth surface, so the irritated area can heal. If the irritation is caused by a poking wire or damaged braces, please call us to fix the problem. There is almost always something we can do to make you more comfortable, so if the wax is not providing relief, please let us help you.
Topical anesthetics can help make an irritated lip, cheek, or tongue feel better temporarily. Just blot the area dry and dab some of the gel on the painful area and repeat as often as necessary. By using this and the wax together, most sore spots can be easily managed.
Since patients with braces are at higher risk for plaque accumulation, most patients can benefit from exposing the teeth to additional fluoride in the form of a prescription gel or toothpaste. The concentration of fluoride in these products is higher than over-the-counter toothpastes and makes the enamel stronger and better able to resist the effects of plaque. At bedtime, after your teeth are clean, apply a small amount of fluoride gel with your toothbrush around all of your braces. Don't rinse or drink afterward, so the paste can remain in contact with your teeth for the duration of the night.
Eating with Braces
Remember that braces and wires can be broken or damaged by foods that are hard or very sticky. It is not practical for us to list all foods that can cause problems, but if you have to bite hard to eat something, it's probably not a good idea. Cutting food into small pieces can often allow you to continue to enjoy your favorites. Chewing gum is fine, as long as it is soft and preferably sugar free.
Plaque thrives in the presence of sugars, so reducing the number of sweets you eat will help reduce the problems associated with plaque (white spots and cavities).
Braces place light pressure on teeth which often creates discomfort. Soreness can be significantly reduced by taking Tylenol or Advil during the first two or three days after the braces are placed or after adjustments. Eating softer foods during these periods is usually very helpful. It is also normal for the teeth to feel somewhat loose, as this is necessary for them to move.
Braces can cause nasty cuts inside the cheeks and lips if you are hit in the face. Please protect yourself and your braces by wearing a mouthguard when participating in sports or activities where this is a possibility. Let us know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.
If a part of your braces becomes damaged or broken and/or you are experiencing pain, please let us know, so we can help you. If a band or bracket becomes loose from a tooth, it will probably still remain attached to the wire. This is not always an urgent problem, unless it is causing discomfort. Since we may recommend repair earlier than your next scheduled appointment, please call as soon as possible. Loose brackets are often first discovered by us during regular appointments, so it is helpful to check your braces regularly for any unnoticed problems. Advance notice will also allow us to be better prepared for your next appointment. After hours, please listen to the voicemail message for instructions on how to reach the doctor.