So, you’re finally starting your journey to a straighter smile. The braces are on, now what? Fortunately, braces are pretty low maintenance, but there are quite a few things patients can do to make their orthodontic experience more effective and comfortable.
Here are ten tips from our orthodontists at Markham Orthodontics to help you care for your braces!
1. Know what to expect
When you first get braces, it’s perfectly normal for your teeth and mouth to be sore and/or tender. Your lips, cheeks, and gums may also be irritated for up to two weeks while they get used to the braces. Try a saltwater rinse or over-the-counter pain reliever to help reduce the amount of pain or discomfort you feel.
Also, don’t fret if your teeth feel loose. The braces loosen your teeth to move them into the correct positions. Once your teeth are in their proper places, they will be as strong as before!
2. Quit bad habits
When you have braces, you’ll have to choose between breaking your bad habits or breaking your brackets. Biting your fingernails, chewing on pen caps or ice cubes, and using your teeth as tools all pose threats to your brackets and wires.
Continuing these habits can lead to a costly orthodontic emergency.
3. Brush often
Orthodontic patients should brush after every meal to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Be sure to brush for at least two minutes and to reach the front, back, and top of each tooth.
Ask your orthodontist about the best toothpaste and toothbrush for your teeth and braces.
Your orthodontist can also help you choose the right type of floss and provide a floss threader to make the process simpler. We recommend flossing after each meal, but we also know that takes a lot of time and effort.
Make it a habit to at least floss every evening so food and germs don’t attack your teeth and gums. We want your teeth to be just as healthy after braces as they were before!
5. Eat the right foods
When you first get braces, stick to eating soft foods to avoid causing more pain and discomfort to your mouth. However, even when your mouth is healed, it’s best to eat foods that won’t damage your braces or get stuck between the brackets.
6. Avoid the wrong foods
Here are some foods to avoid while wearing braces:
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and Fruit Roll-Ups
- Chewy foods like bagels, beef jerky, and granola bars
- Crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, and nuts
- Foods that require biting into like corn on the cob, apples, and carrots
7. Wear a mouth guard
Mouth guards protect the teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports. An orthodontist can create a custom mouth guard to provide you with the best, most comfortable protection. Be sure to properly clean and care for the mouth guard.
8. Use dental wax
While your mouth is getting acclimated to the braces, dental wax will be your new best friend. Simply place the wax over the brackets and wires that are irritating your gums to get some relief. This will also prevent blisters and sores from developing.
9. Wear rubber bands appropriately
Rubber bands, also called inter-arch rubber bands and elastics, are used to correct malocclusion. Be sure to wear the elastics exactly as your orthodontist has instructed. Typically, patients are required to wear them 24 hours a day. The rubber bands should be changed at least three times a day since they will lose elasticity.
10. Know when to call your orthodontist
Contact your orthodontist if you experience any of the following:
- Severe pain after receiving braces
- Loose wires and bands
- Damage to the braces from a sports accident
- A broken elastic hook
- If you run out of bands or wax
Of course, always contact your dentist or orthodontists in any dental emergency. Our orthodontic team is here to serve you whenever you need our expert care.
To learn more about how we can help you achieve a beautiful, aligned smile, call (530) 823-8771 today.