Getting braces is an important decision. Proper care and maintenance of your orthodontic appliances can promote your oral health while on your way to a more beautiful smile. We know that when you first get your braces, you will have lots of questions about the process and what you can expect. The following can help give you an overview of your new life with braces. If you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
After you get your braces, it’s normal for your teeth to feel sore for a few days. To make chewing easier, try to choose softer foods, and cut your foods into smaller pieces before eating rather than trying to bite through them. Soft foods will help your mouth feel back to normal faster. Try to avoid hard bread and tough, raw vegetables, like carrots.
- Chewy foods — jerky, bagels, rice crispy treats, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, hard taco shells
- Sticky foods — chewing gum, caramel candies,
- Hard foods — ice, hard candies, nuts
- Foods that require biting into — apples, corn on the cob, carrots
- Objects that you may chew or bite on – pencils, pens, water bottles, and mouthpiece
- Continue to schedule regular dental cleanings throughout your orthodontic treatment.
- Keep a travel toothbrush with you at all times and be sure to brush after every meal.
- Use a proxy brush, in addition to your toothbrush, to clean those hard-to-reach areas.
- Floss using a super-flosser to remove food that gets trapped between your teeth and brackets.
- Try a WaterPik or AirFlosser to help loosen food and plaque around your braces.
- Rinse with fluoride for one minute every evening after brushing.
During orthodontic treatment, the doctor may use elastics to assist your braces in making adjustments to your teeth and bite. Also known as rubber bands, elastics are typically attached to brackets on the upper and lower teeth and use tension to create changes in the teeth and bite.
You should always wear your elastics as directed. You may remove your elastics when eating and brushing, and you should always replace your elastics with new ones after eating or brushing. Only wearing your elastics occasionally will prolong treatment and also cause any tenderness to persist.
You may experience some tenderness when first wearing elastics, but the tenderness should subside after a few days. Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen should help, but if the soreness continues for more than a week, please give us a call.
If an elastic breaks, please replace both the broken one and the adjacent elastic to ensure the same amount of force is applied on each side. You should always carry extra elastics with you in case one should break. If you think you might run out before your next appointment, please stop by our office for more elastics, or give our office a call, and we can mail extras to you.
Keep these materials on hand to help with the most common orthodontic maintenance and minor emergencies:
- Interdental or Proxabrushes fit between teeth and help patients to clean around wires without damaging them.
- Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax can be placed over brackets or wires that may be irritating gum tissues. This can be especially helpful at night when sleeping when your mouth may get drier than during the day time when you can regularly hydrate.
- Antibacterial Mouthwash can be used to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. For minor sores in the mouth, Peroxyl, an antiseptic rinse containing hydrogen peroxide may be used up to 4 times per day after brushing. Refer to the product label for specific instructions.
- Dental floss, an interproximal brush or a toothpick can be used for removing food that gets caught between teeth or wires.
- Sterile tweezers can be used to replace orthodontic rubber bands that have come off.
- A Q-tip or pencil eraser can be used to push a wire up against a tooth if it has come loose and is irritating the cheeks or gums. If it is not possible to reposition the wire so it is more comfortable, place wax over the end of the wire and call our office so that we can set a time to have the wire adjusted and put back into place.
- Salt is used for warm salt-water rinses, which help heal sore gums and tissues in the mouth.
- Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with the temporary discomfort that sometimes occurs for the first day or two after an orthodontic adjustment.
- Topical Anesthetic Treatments, such as Orabase or Ora-Gel, can be applied with with a Q-tip to any abrasions or sores in the mouth should they occur.
- Use your fingers to put your aligners in place. First, place the aligners over your front teeth, and then use your fingers to push the aligner down gently over your molars. When aligners are correctly inserted, they will fit all the way down on the teeth, with no space between the top of the aligners and the top of the teeth. Aligners will fit tightly at first but should fit well at the end of the two week period.
- Keep aligners in except when flossing, brushing, eating. It’s also best to remove the aligners when drinking warm beverages such as coffee or tea.
- Remove the aligner by pulling it off both sides of your back teeth simultaneously then lifting it off of your front teeth. Place your aligners in the case we provided any time they are not being worn.
- Clean aligners with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Wear each set of aligners for two weeks unless our office directs you to vary from this schedule.
- Wear aligners in the correct numerical order. (Each aligner is labeled by number and with a U or an L to designate upper or lower.)
- Keep all of your old aligners and bring them to your orthodontic appointments.
- Don’t place your aligners in or on a napkin or tissue. Many aligners have accidentally been thrown out this way!
- Don’t use your teeth to “bite” your aligners into place.
- If you have pets, don’t place your aligners anywhere that your pets can reach them. Pets are attracted to saliva and would enjoy chewing on your aligner trays!
- Do not use Denture cleaner, alcohol, or bleach to clean your aligners.
- Do not use boiling water or warm water on your aligners.
- Don’t chew gum while wearing your aligners.
- It would be best not to smoke while wearing aligners. The smoke can stain the aligners as well as your teeth.
Just in Case
- If you lose the tab attached to your tooth that helps the aligner snap on, please call our office right away so that we can determine if you need to come in before your next scheduled appointment.
- If you lose one of your aligner trays, please wear the next tray if you have it. If you do not have the next tray, please wear the previous tray. It is extremely important to use a tray to keep teeth from shifting. Call our office to let us know which tray was lost so that we can determine if a replacement tray is needed. There will be a fee if replacement trays are required.
- Please wear your appliance at all times, even while sleeping, or as instructed by our office. Doing so will help reduce treatment time and will also ensure the best possible results from your orthodontic treatment.
- Please be sure to bring your appliance to every orthodontic appointment.
- Please clean your removable device both morning and night to remove dental plaque. You can clean the appliance with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Please place your removable device in the provided case any time it is not being worn.
- If you have pets, please do not place your removable device anywhere that your pets can reach them. Pets are attracted to saliva and would enjoy chewing on your appliance!
- Please do not place your appliance in or on a napkin or tissue. Many appliances have accidentally been thrown out this way!
- You may remove your appliance while participating in physical activities, but be sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth, gums, and lips.
- Mouthguards are an easy way to prevent most sport-related injuries. For certain sports, we recommend that you wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards cushion the impact if you were to get hit and significantly reduce the risk of broken brackets or wires. Mouthguards should cover the upper teeth and can also help to prevent broken teeth. It’s really important that kids in high-contact sportswear their mouthguards during games, competitions, and even during practice.
- It is recommended that your child remove their Invisalign aligners when playing high-impact sports – mostly because wearing their mouthguard takes priority when injuries are possible. However, it is generally safe to wear aligner trays when less intense or low-impact sports. If your child needs to take out their aligners to play sports, it’s important they put them back in their mouth as soon as they’re finished with physical activity for the day.
- If you play a wind instrument, several companies make mouthguards and lip protectors, although you might not need them.
- Ask us about recommendations based on your specific needs when you come in for your next appointment.
On the day we remove your braces, we will provide you with a set of upper and lower retainers for you to wear. These appliances are included in the cost of your treatment. Some patients may need to wear theirs 24 hours a day, while others can get away with only wearing theirs at night. No matter how long we prescribe, be sure to follow our instructions closely.
How To Wear Retainers
- To keep your teeth from moving back to their original positions, you must wear your retainer every day.
- Only remove your retainer if you are eating at home, chewing gum, brushing, playing any contact sport, or swimming.
- When you remove your appliances, keep them in a case to prevent accidentally throwing them away.
- Brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste in lukewarm (never hot) water.
- Keep all appliances at room temperature.
How To Clean Your Retainers
Use a small amount of dish soap (never toothpaste) and cool water and brush gently on all sides. Then, rinse using lukewarm water. If you notice staining, soak them in one part vinegar and three parts water. As with all appliances, never use hot water as this can warp the material.
While we include the initial cost of all appliances in your treatment plan, a broken or lost retainer will cost extra. We strongly encourage you to take care of your retainer and use it only as instructed and to keep your teeth mold in a safe place so that a replacement can be made at a fraction of full price if needed If you lose or break your retainer, contact our office immediately.