Getting braces on is a momentous occasion! It means you’ve officially kicked off your journey to a fantastic new smile. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, my team and I will fill you in on everything you need to know about the braces experience so you feel informed and prepared to take on the teeth-straightening process. However, the first week with braces is always kind of strange. After all, you suddenly have brackets and wires in your mouth and, truthfully, it does take getting used to. I promise you’ll acclimate to your hardware quickly and forget you even have braces most of the time. To help ease the transition, even more, I’m sharing some of the best tips for your first week with braces.
- Get a Head Start on Braces Discomfort – Getting braces put on doesn’t hurt at all. The process is like putting stickers on your teeth. There are no needles and I simply glue your brackets to your teeth and thread wires through them. When people talk about first-day braces pain, they’re not referring to the procedure itself. It’s about six hours after when you begin to feel the effects of the archwires exerting force to shift the teeth into place. While the force is gentle, it takes a few days to get used to it. During that time, your teeth and jaw might feel a little sore and ache a bit (you should never feel severe pain at any point in the process). This generally lasts three to five days with improvements each day. You can get a jumpstart on braces pain relief by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol before your bonding appointment. This way, by the time your wires put pressure on your teeth, it will have started working. If you need it, which not all patients do, you can continue to take the Tylenol for the first day or two according to the dosage instructions.
- Ask as Many Questions as You Need – We’ll tell you exactly how to navigate life with braces, ranging from what to eat with braces the first week to how to wear any extras like rubber bands before you leave our office. While we pride ourselves on taking the time to prepare our El Dorado Hills braces patients and set them up for smile success, if you have questions or don’t understand something, ask us. #TeamJKO is always more than happy to explain things further and there is no such thing as a dumb question. We are here to help and we love educating our patients on all things orthodontics. The more information you have, the more confident you’ll feel about your first week with braces and beyond. If you forget to ask a question at your appointment, give us a call or send us a text at (916)-933-0532.
- Use Your Orthodontic Relief Wax if You Have to – When you start wearing braces, your lips, tongue, and cheeks can get irritated from the hardware. This goes away on its own once your mouth “toughens” up after a few days. While you’re waiting for irritation to subside, break off a little piece of orthodontic wax, dry off the area with a cotton ball, roll up the wax in between your fingers to warm it up and then put it on the offending bracket or wire. (ProTip: If you’re out and about and can’t make it in to grab wax, silicone ear plugs and sugar-free gum can also work as a #braceshack.) It will act as a buffer between your braces and your mouth. We can even show you how to do it at your appointment.
- Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Salt Water Rinse – For easy, natural relief of sores related to braces, try a salt water rinse. Dissolve ½ teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water. Swish the salt water in your mouth and then spit it out. Repeat this as often as you need to soothe your mouth and help with any irritation.
- Know What to Eat with Braces the First Week and Stock Up – We generally recommend sticking with soft foods the first day after your bonding appointment so the special adhesive we use has a chance to set. Your teeth will probably feel sensitive to biting pressure for about five days anyway, so soft foods and cold drinks will be your BFFs initially. Going shopping ahead of time and stocking your fridge and pantry with these types of food is a great idea. If you love to dine out, take note of some of the braces-friendly restaurants in El Dorado Hills and Sacramento. Having plenty of snacks and restaurant options will make the adjustment easier.
Some examples of what to eat with braces the first week and after appointments when we tighten them include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Apple sauce
- Soft cheese (think brie, cottage cheese, thinly sliced deli cheese, etc.)
- Soft-cooked meat
- Pudding or custard
- Cut-up, steamed leafy greens (i.e., kale, spinach and Swiss chard)
- Ice cream and milkshakes in moderation, of course
- Ice water
As for what not to eat with braces, avoid chewy foods like licorice, bagels and hard rolls (unless you tear them into small pieces), crunchy foods, such as popcorn and ice chips, hard foods, including nuts and hard candy and foods you bite directly into like corn on the cob or whole, raw apples and carrots – you can take corn off the cob and cut up apples and carrots though. These can all damage your braces, which will mean coming in for a repair appointment. Plus, it won’t feel too good to eat hard food when you first get braces.
- Wear a Mouthguard – It is so important to wear a mouthguard when you have braces (or even if you don’t!). You should wear a mouthguard whenever you are playing sports or doing a physical activity that could result in an injury to the face. This includes things like skateboarding, basketball, baseball, and softball even though it’s not required. If you get elbowed in the mouth by an opponent or fall and hit your face, your brackets and wires can cut the soft tissues of the mouth. Your braces could also get damaged. While it’s a precaution you’ll need to take throughout your whole treatment, it’s especially important that first week with braces because you’re already feeling some sensitivity.
- Master the Ins and Outs of How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces– As you’ll quickly find out, those newly placed brackets and wires are like magnets for food and plaque. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to rock spinach in your braces next time you talk to that special someone. However, it does mean you’ll have to take some extra steps in your oral hygiene routine and be diligent about brushing with braces. We’ll show you how to brush your teeth with braces in detail but here are the basics:
- Squeeze a pea size drop of fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush.
- #FlipYourLip so that you can see your gums
- Start on your top teeth at the gum line. Position the bristles of your toothbrush where the gums and teeth meet. Then, using circular motions, get that gum line squeaky clean, spending about 10 seconds on each tooth. Work your way down the tooth and brush every surface of every tooth and be sure to get in between your brackets and wires. #CirclesNotSaws
- Repeat the process on your lower teeth but work from the gum line up.
- Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
- Your brushing routine should last two full minutes.
Not only will brushing with braces get rid of unwanted food debris, it will also eliminate plaque and help to prevent cavities and gum disease, which can set your treatment time back. Mastering how to brush your teeth with braces from the get-go will ensure you have a great relationship with your hardware.
3. Get Some Special Tools to Help You Floss With Braces – When you go on your shopping trip for soft foods and cold drinks, you will also want to pick up a few handy tools to help floss with braces. Orthodontic flossers will cut down on the time you spend on your flossing routine and are an especially great way to adapt to flossing during your first week with braces when it can seem particularly challenging. They’re designed to fit under your braces. Floss threaders can work as well, but let’s be real, it will take at least twice as long to floss. Our recommendation is to choose the tool which you can master the easiest so that flossing gets done. Whichever option you choose, position the floss in between any two teeth and move it up and down along one side of a tooth and then the other before moving on to the next pair.
There are also a few super helpful but not mandatory products that can get in the tight spaces between teeth and your brackets and wires, including interproximal brushes and water flossers like a Waterpik. Both tools will give you a sparkling clean though you’ll still have to floss in addition to using them.
- Pack a Travel Kit With Braces Essentials – Put together a travel kit with everything you need to take care of your braces and stick it in your car or your school or work bag so that you have it with you all of the time. This isn’t just one of my favorite tips for your first week with braces; it’s a smart thing to do throughout your whole treatment. Some things to put in your kit are a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, a cavity-fighting mouthwash, orthodontic flossers, orthodontic relief wax, Tylenol, interproximal brushes and a small mirror like the kind you find in a makeup compact. You never know when you’ll need to flash your beautiful smile, and now, a piece of food in your braces won’t stand a chance!
- Talk, Talk, Talk – Most people actually don’t notice a difference in their speech after getting braces on but some do feel as if they talk funny for the first week or so or produce extra spit when talking. It’s more common with lingual braces or Invisalign. If this happens, just know your speech will go back to normal when your tongue gets used to sharing space with your appliances. To speed things along, talk, talk and talk some more. Talk on the phone, talk to yourself at home, chat with your friends or even read a book aloud. The more you talk, the quicker you’ll get used to wearing braces and resume your regular speech pattern.
- Go about Your Daily Life Like You Normally Would – Braces will not have a huge impact on your day-to-day life – well, except at the end when you get an amazing smile. During your first week with braces, they can kind of take over and become your main focus. This is often because you’re worried about doing everything right and getting used to the new sensations in your mouth. In a week or two, your braces really won’t take up much space in your brain. The best thing to do is to continue going about your regular activities to take your mind off your braces and familiarize yourself with braces life more quickly. Hang out with friends, work out, go to school or work, watch Netflix, listen to music or whatever else you love doing. If you were feeling apprehensive about getting braces, you’ll notice off the bat, having braces doesn’t change your ability to do any of that. It doesn’t hurt to befriend some of your fellow orthodontic patients either since they’re probably in the same boat!
- Keep Your Eye on the Prize – If your teeth are tender or you feel down about giving up popcorn, keep the bigger picture in mind. The confidence you gain from loving your smile is priceless and worth any minor sacrifices. Focus on the end goal of getting a beautiful, healthy smile.
Those are my best tips for handling your first week with braces. By the time the week comes to a close, you’ll be an old hand at having brackets and wires in your mouth and you’ll barely notice they’re there. If you ever have any questions or concerns, feel free to give our office a call. If you haven’t started treatment yet and you want a healthy, beautiful smile, book a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today!