Congratulations you have braces! You are on your way to a beautiful smile. Now you are probably wondering what to expect, and how to take care of them.
Eating with Braces
This is often the first thing patients wonder about. For the first few days we recommend eating soft foods to reduce the amount chewing you have to do, and therefore the amount of discomfort you may experience. Usually within a few days you will be able to eat most things comfortably.
There are some foods that you should avoid eating with braces because they can damage your braces. Generally these fall into 3 categores: Chewy, sticky, or hard foods.
Foods to Avoid:
Chewy - Bagels, beef jerky, licorice
Sticky - Gum, caramel, fruit candy
Hard - Whole nuts, hard candies, ice
Popcorn - Popcorn is not recommended with braces because of the shells that can get caught around braces and under the gumline. These do not dissolve, and can cause pain/gum infections.
Avoid foods that require chomping - Apples, corn on the cobb
You CAN eat things like apples, carrots, and corn, but need to do so by first chopping them into pieces or by removing the corn from the cobb.
You CAN eat most things... and just because you have braces doesn't mean you cannot enjoy a treat. Chocolate, ice cream, an cake are actually ok with braces. We just ask that you make good choices and be sure to brush!
Dr. Hocking covers braces friendly foods on our blog here
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing - With braces we ask that you add a 3rd brushing to your day. It is ideal to brush after each meal, but we realize that this can be difficult after lunch for kids in school or adults at the workplace. So, please try to rinse with water after meals and brush once you get home from school or work.
Flossing - Floss once per day using superfloss, a floss threader, or plackers ortho-friendly flossers.
Dr. Hocking covers brushing and flossing with braces here
Typically you will feel ok right after the braces are placed. Within several hours of the braces or appliances being placed you may experience some general soreness or tenderness in your mouth. This is normal, and will get better! Within a few days to a week the soreness should subside.
To help reduce the soreness you can swish with salt water. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 oz of warm water and swish throughout your mouth. Don't forget to spit!
If the discomfort is severe, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever every 4-6 hours.
It is not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to experience some irritation from your new braces during the first week as your mouth 'toughens' up. If things feel very scratchy or irritated, you can place some comfort wax on the area causing the discomfort. If a canker sore develops, rinsing with salt water or Peroxyl rinse (Colgate) can help to heal the area faster.
It is normal for your teeth to feel a little loose during treatment. Teeth have to loosen in order for them to move. Once your teeth are in their final positions, they will stabilize and will no longer be loose.
You can absolutely play sports while wearing braces. We do however recommend that you wear a braces-friendly mouthguard. Ask us about one in the office, or purchase one at your neighborhood sporting goods store.
If an emergency occurs, check to see if you have any loose appliances. If you are generally ok and the only noticeable damage is loose braces/wires, or mild mobility of a tooth that is still in it's proper location, call us so that we can repair. You can use a salt water rinse for gum irritation/swelling and can apply wax for comfort.
If you notice major loosening, breakage, or dislodgement of a tooth or teeth and/or significant bleeding and injury to the face and lips, please stay calm and get to a hospital Emergency Room as soon as possible. It is important for a physician or oral surgeon to examine for breakage to the facial bones/jaws. If a tooth has become completely dislodged, keep the tooth either in your saliva (in mouth) or in a cup of milk and bring with you. If you get seen within 1-2 hours of the occurrence, often the tooth will be able to get re-implanted.
Please take care of your appliances, brush well, eat sensibly, and wear a mouthguard while playing sports. Damaged appliances/braces can lengthen your treatment time. When you take care of your appliances and follow instructions such as consistently wearing your elastic rubber bands, you will stay on track.