Having braces should not cause any major changes in your day-to-day activities. You can still dine out, sing, play a musical instrument, or pose for pictures. With proper care and maintenance, you can promote your oral health while you’re on your way to a more beautiful smile.
If you play a wind instrument, several companies make mouthguards and lip protectors, although you may not need them.
For certain sports, it is a good idea to wear a mouthguard. Ask us about recommendations based on your specific needs when you come in for your next appointment.
When making dining selections, choose softer foods and avoid foods that are particularly hard, chewy, crunchy, or sticky. Cut or tear pizza and sandwiches into small pieces before eating them rather than trying to bite through them.
Chopping up items like apples or carrots before eating is also 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 choice. Please avoid chewing gum and chewing on ice.
Carefully follow all instructions you are given regarding your dental care. Specific steps may vary, depending on the type of braces you have.
Be sure to brush thoroughly after any meal or snack. It is critical to keep your teeth and braces as clean as possible to avoid potential problems. Also, rinse with water or mouthwash after brushing.
It’s a good idea to carry a travel toothbrush when you are going to be away from home. Before going to bed at night, be sure to brush thoroughly and floss carefully. It may take a little extra time, but this is an important step in maintaining your oral hygiene on your way to a better smile and healthier teeth.
Use a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush that is in good condition. Brushes will wear out faster and need to be replaced more often when you’re wearing braces, so be sure to keep some spare toothbrushes on hand. When brushing, you should also scrub your tongue and rinse thoroughly when done.
Flossing is an essential 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.
Cleaning Your Removable Appliance
If you have a removable orthodontic appliance, it is smart to clean it each night and morning to remove dental plaque. Remove the appliance and clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
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 cause it to become drier than during the daytime when you can hydrate regularly.
Preventing Sports Injuries
Wear a mouthguard when playing sports to protect your mouth from injury.
Useful Items for Orthodontic Patients
Keep these materials on hand to help with the most common orthodontic maintenance and minor emergencies:
- Interdental or proxabrushes fit between teeth and enable patients 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 that contains hydrogen peroxide, may be used up to four times a 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 so it is more comfortable, place wax over the end of it and call our office so we can schedule a time to have the wire adjusted and put back into place.
- Salt is 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 a Q-tip to any abrasions or sores in the mouth, should they occur.