Braces Are a Big Step
You’ve taken a big step by having braces put on. You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. It’s an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve.
As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few adjustments, but it'll become second nature before you know it.
Life During Treatment
Having braces shouldn’t cause any major changes in your day-to-day life. You can still dine out, sing, play a musical instrument, or have pictures taken. With proper care and maintenance, you can prioritize your oral health while working towards a more beautiful smile.
If you play a wind instrument, several companies make mouth guards and lip protectors, although you may not need them.
For certain sports, it is a good idea to wear a mouth guard. Ask us about recommendations based on your needs when you come in for your next appointment.
Helpful At-Home Orthodontic Tools
Dr. Bigman suggests keeping these materials on-hand to help with the most common orthodontic maintenance and minor emergencies:
- Interdental or Proxabrushes fit between teeth and help to clean around wires without damaging them.
- Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax can be placed over brackets or wires that may be irritating gum tissues.
- Antibacterial Mouthwash can be used to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. For minor sores in the mouth, Peroxyl, an antiseptic rinse containing hydrogen peroxide, may be used up to 4 times per day after brushing. Refer to the product label for specific instructions.
- Dental floss, an interproximal brush or a toothpick can be used for removing food that gets caught between teeth or wires.
- Sterile tweezers can be used to replace orthodontic rubber bands that have come off.
- A Q-tip or pencil eraser can be used to push a wire up against a tooth if it has come loose and is irritating the cheeks or gums. If it is not possible to reposition the wire, place wax over the end of the wire and call our office so that we can set a time to see Dr. Bigman to have the wire adjusted and put back into place.
- Salt can be used for warm salt-water rinses, which help heal sore gums and tissues in the mouth.
- Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with the temporary discomfort that sometimes occurs for the first day or two after an orthodontic adjustment.
- Topical Anesthetic Treatments, such as Orabase or Ora-Gel, can be applied with with a Q-tip to any abrasions or sores in the mouth should they occur.
When you first get your braces on at Bigman Orthodontics, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal, and we promise your mouth won't be sore forever. To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water.
Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).
If your pain is severe and doesn't go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It's normal for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces.
We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.
Dental wax can be very helpful with any areas that are irritating your mouth or gums. This can be especially helpful at night when sleeping when your mouth may get drier than during the day time when you can regularly hydrate.
Care & Maintenance
Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria has a chance to grow.
Flossing is also an important part of good oral hygiene. With braces, it may take a little more time and practice and a floss threader may be necessary to get the floss under the archwire. Make sure you clean along and under the gum lines with floss each night before going to bed. After you have properly brushed and flossed, your braces should look clean and shiny, making it easy to see the edges of the braces.
It’s important to follow all instructions you are given regarding your dental care to achieve the best results. Specific steps may vary depending on the type of braces you have. Be sure to brush thoroughly after any meal or snack. If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.
Be sure to brush and floss thoroughly before going to bed each night. This may take a little extra time, but this is an important step towards achieving a better smile and healthier teeth.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
- Braces wear toothbrushes out quickly, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
- Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth.
- Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
- Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.
Eating With Braces
When making your dining choice, choose softer foods and avoid foods that are particularly hard, chewy, crunchy or sticky. Cut or tear pizza and sandwiches before eating them rather than trying to bite through them. Chopping up items like apples or carrots before eating them is a good idea.
When your braces are adjusted, your teeth may be a little more sensitive, so choosing softer foods like pasta, soups or a healthy smoothie can be a good option. Please avoid chewing gum and chewing on ice.
Foods You Can Eat
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
The wires and bands Dr. Bigman places on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore.
Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that Dr. Bigman uses to connect them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaces wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of you only masking the symptoms at home.
- Use your fingers to put your aligners place. First place the aligners over your front teeth, and then use your fingers to push the aligner down gently over your molars. When aligners are correctly inserted, they will fit all the way down on the teeth, with no space between the top of the aligners and the top of the teeth. Aligners will fit tightly at first but should fit well at the end of the two week period.
- Keep aligners in except when flossing, brushing or eating. It’s also best to remove the aligners when drinking warm beverages such as coffee or tea.
- Remove the aligner by pulling it off both sides of your back teeth simultaneously then lifting it off of your front teeth.
- Place your aligners in the provided case any time they are not being worn.
- Clean aligners with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Wear each set of aligners for two weeks unless Dr. Bigman directs you to vary from this schedule.
- Wear aligners in the correct numerical order. (Each aligner is labeled by number and with a U or an L to designate upper or lower.)
- Keep all of your old aligners and bring them to your orthodontic appointments.
- Do not place your aligners in or on a napkin or tissue. Many aligners have been accidentally thrown out this way!
- Do not use your teeth to “bite” your aligners into place.
- If you have pets, do not place your aligners anywhere that your pets can reach them. Pets are attracted to saliva and would enjoy chewing on your Invisalign® trays!
- Do not use Denture cleaner, alcohol, or bleach to clean your aligners.
- Do not use boiling water or warm water on your aligners.
- Do not chew gum with your aligners in.
- It would be best not to smoke while wearing aligners. The smoke can stain the aligners as well as your teeth.
JUST IN CASE
- If you lose the tab attached to your tooth that helps the aligner snap on, please call our office right away so that we can determine if you need to come in before your next scheduled appointment.
- If you lose one of your aligner trays, please wear the next tray in the series. If you do not have the next tray, you should wear the previous tray. It is extremely important to use a tray to prevent your teeth from shifting. Call our office to let us know which tray was lost so that we can determine if a replacement tray is needed. There will be a fee if replacement trays are required.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.
For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended by Dr. Bigman. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted to.
If you have a removable orthodontic appliance, it is important to clean it each night and morning to remove dental plaque. Remove the appliance and clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Tips for Athletes & Musicians
You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouth guard, or to remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.
If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.
If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position.
Sores can also develop, but liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.