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Patient Education

If you are reading this article, it is safe to assume you need to be welcomed to the world of braces. Congratulations!  You are on your way to a gorgeous smile!

Wearing braces can take a little getting used to. It’s not difficult to take care of them, but there are specific
TIPS and TRICKS that, if followed, will ensure you achieve your most beautiful smile as quickly as possible!

Sore teeth

Your teeth may become sore after braces are first placed in your mouth. You may also feel some soreness after adjustments. This discomfort is normal, and should subside completely within two to three days. There are, however, a couple things you can do to ease your discomfort.

(TRICK #1) Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Advil will usually provide immediate relief.

Some irritation to your cheeks or tongue is also common and should subside soon. 

(TRICK #2) We will provide you with wax to apply to irritating brackets to lessen tenderness.

(TIP #1) However, if you feel something sharp poking you, or if sores develop, call us immediately so that we can properly adjust your braces for a more comfortable fit.

Elastics

The rubber bands that are often attached to braces are called elastics. Their job is to exert pressure so that your teeth slowly move to the desired location. Constant pressure is needed to obtain the best possible results.

(TIP #2) Therefore, you must carefully follow your orthodontist’s instructions about how to wear your elastics to ensure that your treatment goes as planned. Any time you fail to follow your doctor’s instructions your progress will be delayed which will make your treatment time longer. Please follow directions!

(TIPS #3-9) to help with elastics:

• Always wear your elastics exactly as instructed. You are responsible for this portion of your orthodontic treatment!
• Remove your elastics only when brushing your teeth and while you are eating.
• Replace your elastics immediately after brushing and/or meals.
• Always carry elastics with you, so if one breaks, you can replace it right away. When your elastics supply is low, call the office and we’ll mail you an additional supply of elastics.
• If you forget to insert your elastics one day, don’t double up the next day! Just continue to follow your normal routine, and try not to miss any additional days.
• It is very important to change your elastics as directed. Elastics need to be changed as directed, even if they are not broken.  Rubber bands quickly lose their elasticity. Once the bands lose elasticity, they no longer provide the proper pressure on your teeth and jaws to make the necessary changes in your bite.
• If your elastics break frequently, a wire or band becomes loose, or a hook breaks off, call our office immediately.  Don’t wait until your next appointment. These problems need to be corrected as soon as possible.

Orthodontic Expander

A palatal expander is a commonly used orthodontic device. It is used to widen the upper jaw so that the bottom and upper teeth will fit together better.

Eating with Braces

You will need to make a few changes in your eating habits while wearing braces. Many hard foods can damage or break your braces.

(TIP #10) Hard or sticky foods are the most likely culprits when brackets or wires are damaged while eating. Habits like biting your nails, or chewing on pencils can also damage your braces. With proper care and attention you can avoid broken or damaged braces or appliances. If you have many broken brackets, your treatment time may become longer.  Additionally, excessive replacement of broken brackets and wires can result in additional charges.

(TIPS #11-17) for eating with braces:

• Do not eat hard foods such as nuts, ice, or crisp taco shells.
• Cut hard fruits and raw veggies, such as apples or carrots, into pieces instead of eating them whole.
• Avoid eating popcorn, and cut corn off of the cob before eating.
• Avoid sticky foods of any sort.
• Absolutely do NOT chew gum, sugarless or otherwise.
• Minimize sugar intake.
• Minimize consumption of soda.

Examples of Foods to Avoid

Sticky Foods:

• Caramels
• Sugar Daddies
• Starbursts
• Caramel Apples
• Sugar Babies
• Licorice
• Toffee
• Tootsie Rolls
• Now & Laters

Hard Foods:

• Nuts
• Popcorn
• Bagels
• Apples
• Corn on the Cob
• Pizza Crusts
• Carrots (uncooked)
• Doritos
• Pretzels

Brushing with Braces

You will probably notice that it is a little harder to keep your teeth clean while wearing braces. Food can get lodged in between brackets and between your teeth. It’s always important to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth, but when you wear braces these habits are especially important! If plaque remains on your teeth for any length of time, it will leave a permanent white scar on the surface of your tooth. 

(TRICK #3) Therefore, brushing after meals should become a regular part of your daily routine.

Brushing

(TIPS #18-26):

• Use a soft toothbrush with firm pressure.  Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to the tooth.  (TRICK #4) Brush the lower teeth using an upward angle from the gums and brush the upper teeth using a downward angle from the gums.
• Brush in small circles above and below the brackets.
• Brush each tooth and your gum line for about 10 seconds a piece.
• Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
• Braces are hard on toothbrushes and cause them to wear out faster! Replace your toothbrush as soon as the bristles start to fray.
• You may find a water pick to be helpful in cleaning your braces, but remember that it will not remove plaque and that brushing is still important.
• We recommend Sonicare toothbrushes, which are very effective in removing food particles and plaque.
• Don’t forget to floss… Every day!
• Carefully pull waxed floss between the wire and the braces, and around each tooth.
 
If you follow these tips and tricks, you will be on your way to a beautiful, bright smile in no time!


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