We promise you’ll get used to your new braces in a few days and you probably won’t even notice they’re in your mouth the majority of the time. While they won’t impact your day-to-day activities too much, there are a few small tweaks you’ll need to make to adjust to life with braces.
Brushing and Flossing:
Of course you’ll want to stay on top of your oral hygiene to ensure those soon-to-be perfectly straight teeth are healthy and stain-free. This will mean brushing after every meal and snack and before bed. We know you probably won’t have a toothbrush on you every second of the day, so if necessary, rinse your mouth out really well with water after eating and brush as soon as you get home.
To brush your pearly whites with braces, squeeze some toothpaste on your toothbrush and place the bristles where the gums and teeth meet. For about 10 seconds on each tooth, use circular motions to brush around the gum line. Make sure you brush every surface of each tooth and get in between those wires and brackets. Brush the lower teeth from the gum line up and the upper teeth from the gum line down. Brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue too. The whole process should take about two minutes.
You’ll also want to floss once a day. Flossing will require a handy little tool known as an orthodontic flosser (platypus flossers are a great example). They look like and are used like a regular flossing aid, they’re made to fit under your braces and they’ll shave minutes off your flossing routine. Floss threaders are great too. You’ll use it to pass the floss under the wire and then in between your teeth. Floss up and down on each side of the tooth and then move onto the next set of teeth. Be sure to floss around your braces as well.
What to Eat
While you can still eat most of the foods you love with braces, when you first get them on and sometimes after adjustments, your teeth may feel sensitive. If this is the case, stick with soft foods like mashed potatoes and soup and cold drinks (perfect excuse to have a smoothie for dinner!) for a day or two.
Make sure you cut or break hard and chewy food into tiny pieces and don’t tear at it with your front teeth. Instead, chew with your back teeth and make things really easy to eat to avoid broken brackets or wires. Protect your braces by staying away from:
- Chewy foods: Bagels and hard rolls (unless torn into little pieces), licorice
- Crunchy foods: Popcorn, ice, chips
- Sticky foods: Caramels, gum
- Hard foods: Nuts, hard candy
- Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob (strip from the cob), apples, carrots (cut up)
- Chewing on hard things: pens, pencils, etc.
- Soft cheeses (brie, cottage cheese, thinly sliced cheddar, etc.)
- Soft-cooked meat
- Steamed greens like kale, spinach, or chard (cut up)
When you get your braces on, you may feel general, mild soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressure for three to five days. To relieve this, dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Swish the salt water in your mouth vigorously and then spit it out. If this doesn’t help, you can take whatever over-the-counter pain reliever you normally take for a headache or similar discomfort. Sometimes your lips, cheeks and tongue might feel irritated for a few days while you get used to wearing braces. You can use a small piece of orthodontic wax to cover the offending bracket or wire. Ask us and we’ll show you how to do it!
If you have a loose wire or band or a broken bracket, don’t panic. It happens occasionally. If the wire is sticking out and irritating your mouth, use a blunt instrument (the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully and very gently push the wire under the braces to get it out of the way. You can always use a tiny piece of orthodontic wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce irritation if it’s poking into your cheeks or gums. If any piece of your appliance comes off, save it and bring it with you when you come to your appointment. For broken brackets, again you can use orthodontic wax to place over the bracket to stop irritation. Call our office and we’ll get you in for an appointment right away to fix the problem.
If you’re an athlete, make sure you let us know so we can take special precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. We always advise using a protective mouthguard when playing contact sports even if the rules of the game don’t require it. If you do get hit in the face with a ball or a stray elbow, check your mouth and appliances immediately and call right away if anything is loose or damaged.
Find out how we can help you smile with confidence by scheduling a free consultation with Dr. Kwong.