Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
It's important that you take care of all your orthodontic appliances, whether they are fixed or removable.
This will help you successfully complete your orthodontic treatment and keep your treatment time to a minimum.
For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended.
Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted to.
The best ways to ensure a clean and healthy smile are brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and around braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth, and gums so that you will have the best possible result.
It can take some time to get used to brushing your teeth with braces. 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 have a chance to grow. If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush. Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
- You'll need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your braces. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one.
- Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces, and the surface of each tooth.
- Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
- Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.
During orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles on your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
- It's important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.
A reusable floss threader provided by our office will make daily flossing easier with your braces, however, regular floss may also be used. To floss, pull a small length of floss through the threader and slide it between the wire and the tooth. Guide the floss between the teeth moving it up and down along the side of each tooth to the gum line. Remove the floss from between the wire and tooth, repeat between each tooth moving the floss through the threader as you go, so that a clean segment of floss is used for each tooth.
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of in order to keep your braces functioning perfectly. Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces, so do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
In order to protect your new braces, and ensure that your treatment goes smoothly, there are a few dietary adjustments you’ll need to make. This can be difficult to get used to at first, but don’t worry - there are tons of delicious foods you can still enjoy while wearing braces, like:
- Dairy – soft cheese, pudding, milk, yogurts, cottage cheese, eggs
- Breads – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins with no nuts
- Grains – pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats – poultry, tender meats, meatballs, lunch meats
- Vegetables – mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, beans
- Fruits – applesauce, bananas, fruit juice, smoothies, berries
- Occasional Treats – ice cream, milkshakes, Jell-O, plain soft chocolates, peanut butter cups, brownies, and soft cookies. Just remember to always keep your sugar intake as low as possible!
The foods you’ll want to avoid while wearing braces include, but aren’t limited to:
- Chewy foods – bagels, licorice, pizza crust, French breads
- Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, ice, hard candies including lollipops, thick pretzels
- Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum, gummy candies
Hard foods – nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into – corn on the cob, apples, carrots, ribs and chicken wings
If any part of your braces come loose or break in any way, be sure to contact your us to find out what you should do next.
While you wait for your appointment, there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep both your braces and your mouth safe.
- If a band or bracket is broken, but still attached to the wire, don’t connect any elastics to it, and leave it alone until your appointment.
- If you find it's causing irritation to the inside of your mouth, you can cover it with orthodontic wax.
- If the broken piece has actually come off, put it in a bag and save it for us to inspect at your next appointment.
Once your teeth have adjusted to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritate your cheeks.
This wire can often be moved into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. Any misplaced wires or ties can be manipulated 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 the actual problem can be fixed instead of you only masking the symptoms at home.
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 happen to be involved in some kind of 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.