Patient Resources

Life With Braces

Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.

Don’t worry; you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.

  • Dairy – soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins w/o 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 w/o nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal for patients who have just gotten their braces put on, and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know!

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth in order to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

Game, Set, Match – we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.

  • 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

Emergency Care

True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you schedule an appointment with our office. When working with your appliances, you need to know the names of the parts of your appliances so you are able to identify what part is broken or out of place. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.

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 saltwater mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. Placing Orabase on the affected area may help; this can be found in a pharmacy. 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!

Sometimes headgear discomfort is caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed by your orthodontist. Please refer to the instructions provided by your orthodontist. If the facebow is bent, please call our office for assistance. Surprisingly, the headgear may hurt less as it’s worn more, so be sure you’re getting in the prescribed hours.

If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part of your appliance.

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. If the wire comes out entirely, wrap the bracket with a tissue.

Using a tweezer, try to put your wire back into place. If doing this and using wax 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 your discomfort continues, place wax on it.

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

Retention

Your teeth will move if you don’t wear your retainers

  • If you don’t wear your retainers and your teeth move, correction of significant tooth movement may require the time, effort, and expense of additional treatment.
  • If a retainer is lost, broken, or feels different, promptly call our office during business hours. Never try to adjust a retainer.
  • Vacations and summer camps will change your routine. These are high-risk periods for losing or not wearing retainers.
  • When not wearing or cleaning your retainers, they should be in the retainer case with your name and phone number.
  • Keep retainers beyond the reach of pets and young children. Dogs and cats like to chew on retainers.
  • Retainers can be broken if placed in a pocket or backpack.
  • There is a charge to replace retainers, so please be careful.  $300 per arch.
  • Like contact lenses, eye glasses, and other personal items, retainers can wear out over time. Replacing a worn out retainer is a wise investment in protecting your smile and long-term stability of your teeth.
  • Plastic retainers can be ruined by heat. When cleaning them, never put a retainer in boiling water, a dishwasher, or on the dashboard of a car.
  • Plastic retainers can be damaged by soaking the in mouthwash.
  • If you don’t wear your retainers and your teeth move, correction of significant tooth movement may require the time, effort, and expense of additional treatment.
  • If a retainer is lost, broken, or feels different, promptly call our office during business hours. Never try to adjust a retainer.
  • Vacations and summer camps will change your routine. These are high-risk periods for losing or not wearing retainers.
  • When not wearing or cleaning your retainers, they should be in the retainer case with your name and phone number.
  • Keep retainers beyond the reach of pets and young children. Dogs and cats like to chew on retainers.
  • Retainers can be broken if placed in a pocket or backpack.
  • There is a charge to replace retainers, so please be careful.  $150 per arch.
  • Like contact lenses, eye glasses, and other personal items, retainers can wear out over time. Replacing a worn out retainer is a wise investment in protecting your smile and long-term stability of your teeth.

Retainer Care and Cautions

The orthodontic retainer that has been placed is on the inside of your lower front teeth. It’s referred to as a “bonded lingual retaining wire”. As long as the wire is correctly attached to your teeth, it will hold them reasonably straight.

Care of the Wire

Please be aware that you are responsible for the care of the wire. Proper care includes:

  • Careful, thorough brushing and flossing. This must be done daily. In addition to brushing, its essential that you floss between your teeth and into the gum areas below the wire. In order to do the best cleaning, most patients use a “floss threader” or “Super Floss”. When flossing be careful to not push too hard on the wire. This can bend or dislodge it and will cause your teeth to shift.
  • Leaving FR in a poor oral environment may result in severe damage to your teeth and supporting structures.
  • If you’re not certain how to clean around the wire, just ask and we’ll be happy to show you the correct methods.
  • Do no pick at the wire.
  • Do not bend the wire. Unusually hard, sticky or brittle foods can bend the wire and shift your teeth.
  • Routine dental cleaning by a general dentist or a hygienist could be and should be done on a routine basis. If flossing daily is “not your/your child’s thing” more frequent dental cleaning visits are highly recommended (e.g. every 3 months instead of every 6 months).

If during retention visits it becomes obvious that maintenance of retainer is inadequate – we’ll make a note of it and review hygiene with you/your child. If poor hygiene continues, fixed retainer will be removed and replaced with removable one.

Retainer check appointments are scheduled on a regular basis but it’s up to you to “keep an eye” on the alignment of your teeth and condition of the fixed retainer in between visits. Like with any other appliance, improper care may lead to breakage of the appliance. Please, promptly call our office to schedule an appointment during our regular business hours.If a retainer is loose on one or two teeth, please do NOT pull it out. It may be an easy fix.

If all of a sudden you find that there is a difference in the way retainer feels (even if it doesn’t appear broken) – please, contact the office right away to check the retainer. It is your responsibility to report problems with fixed retainer as soon as possible. Ignoring a problem may lead to a significant tooth movement. Correction of relapse that happened due to patient’s negligence will require the time, effort, and expense of additional treatment. The expense involved would depend on time required to realign your teeth back to where orthodontic treatment was finished.

Discover Your Purest Smile.

Give us a call at 512-215-2520 or fill out our contact form.