Caring For Your Braces

Caring for Your Appliances

Patient cooperation is a big part of successful orthodontic treatment. Please be sure to wear your appliance as prescribed, including your rubber bands, headgear, retainer or other appliance. If not, your treatment will be delayed and take longer to complete.

Also be sure to take care of your appliances. Avoid the foods listed above. Broken appliances require additional repair appointments and additional fees. Sometimes broken appliances cause unwanted tooth movement, and ultimately, delayed treatment.

We understand that appliances do break – even when you aren’t eating anything listed above! Take care of your appliances, and your treatment should run smoothly!

Oral Hygiene

You already know that maintaining good oral hygiene is important for everyone — but when you’re having orthodontic treatment, it’s even more critical. Why? Because, while the appliances (such as braces or clear aligners) you may need to wear during treatment are very effective in correcting misaligned teeth, they can also trap food particles easily. Keeping your teeth (and your appliances) clean is a little harder — but you can do it! Here’s a look at why good oral hygiene is so important during orthodontic treatment, and some tips on how you can keep it up.

The major enemy of oral health is plaque. Food that becomes trapped near tooth surfaces can lead to the formation of plaque — a thin coating of microorganisms and organic debris (biofilm) containing potentially harmful bacteria. Braces or other appliances make it harder to remove plaque. The bacteria in plaque digest the sugars in food, producing acids which may erode teeth and irritate gums. This can cause cavities, white spots on teeth, gum disease and bad breath.

Keeping plaque under control is one of the most effective means of maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums. There are three general ways to do it: through diet, daily maintenance, and regular professional care. Taken all together, they’re your teeth’s best defense.

Introduction

Controlling your diet involves avoiding foods that could increase your risk of developing tooth decay. That means cutting down or eliminating foods with an excess of sugar, like soda, sweets, and ice cream. It also means avoiding foods that could easily become stuck in your braces, like toffee, gum, licorice and caramels.

Foods that are very hard or extremely sticky can also cause physical damage to orthodontic appliances. Certainly braces or retainers with broken wires or loose brackets aren’t working to straighten your teeth! You should avoid foods like hard candies or nuts, beef jerky and hard pizza crust. Keep eating healthy foods like carrots and apples — but cut them into bite-sized pieces first! And don’t chew on ice, pencils, or your nails: these habits can cause damage to your appliances, and even result in chipped teeth!

You know how important brushing and flossing are for keeping a healthy smile — especially now that you’re in orthodontic treatment. But sometimes it’s harder to clean your teeth effectively around an appliance’s brackets and wires. Here are some tools and tips you can try for better tooth cleaning.

Either a soft-bristle or a bi-level toothbrush (one with longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle) can be effective in plaque removal — even with braces. An electric toothbrush can also be used, on a moderate setting. For hard-to-clean areas, try an interdental brush, or proxabrush. The small bristles of this special tooth-cleaning aid, which is shaped like a pipe cleaner, can get in between wires, brackets and teeth. With gentle and persistent effort, it’s possible to reach into the smallest nooks and crannies, and control plaque buildup.

You should floss at least once a day during orthodontic treatment. While it’s a little harder to do with braces, there are some special products available — including floss threaders and particular kinds of floss — that can help you get the floss between wires and gum line. Our staff will review proper brushing and flossing techniques with you when your braces are put on — but if you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Depending on your situation, we may recommend an in-office or at-home supplemental fluoride treatment to boost your cavity resistance. An antiseptic rinse may also be recommended, to ease minor gum inflammation or irritation.

If you have a retainer, it should be brushed daily, the same way you brush your teeth. We may also recommend using a cleaning solution — but never put hot water on your retainer, because it can distort the soft plastic and make it unusable! And always keep it in a case when it’s not in your mouth.

Even though you’re seeing an orthodontist regularly, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see your regular dentist — in fact, it’s just as important as ever! While we’re focused on improving your bite and alignment, your dentist will make sure your teeth stay healthy with thorough examinations, cleanings and preventive care. Your orthodontic treatment is a team effort where everyone — our office, you, and your family dentist — has an important role to play. And the team has just one goal: giving you a winning smile.

Emergency

Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.

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Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

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Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

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Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

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During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.

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Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces

For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems.

  • Gum (sugar-free or regular)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels and Taffy
  • Starburst
  • Fruit Roll-ups
  • Gummy bears
  • Skittles
  • Milk Duds
  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls (tear into smaller pieces)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Chips and Popcorn
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Cake
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Drinks with sugar
  • Nail biting
  • Pencil and pen chewing
  • Chewing on foreign objects
  • Biting your lips
  • Tearing things with teeth

Need More Braces Care Supplies?

Your local Longs/CVS has what your need! Just go to the toothbrush section and you can stock up on your braces care needs. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Cold Sores = Orajel or CVS Oral Pain Reliever Gel
  • Pokey Wires = GUM Brand Wax, CVS Orthodontic Wax
  • Floss Threaders (remember you can reuse these)= GUM Brand, or CVS Brand
  • Super Floss (single use only) = Oral-B, or Glide
  • Floss = Glide

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98-1247 Kaahumanu St #325, Aiea, HI 96701