Congratulations on your shiny new tooth bling! Getting braces can be very exciting, but it is also a big responsibility. In order to maintain healthy teeth and achieve the best outcomes, there are a few important guidelines. These keys to success will help you get your braces off faster and keep your teeth sparkling!
Be careful WHAT you eat: no sticky, gummy, hard, crunchy or bony foods that will break your braces or other appliances and delay treatment progress.
Be mindful of HOW you eat: Eat tiny bite-size pieces and smaller, gentler chewing motions. ‘Rip and dip’ your soft, un-toasted bagel instead of chomping into a giant, hard bagel to save your braces.
Wear your elastics: Braces can straighten teeth, but often elastics are necessary to achieve a healthy bite. Wearing your elastics is often the key to getting your braces off faster!
Wear a mouthguard: Not just for wrestling and football, but basketball, soccer and cheer can cause dental trauma as well.
Brush after every meal: Food and plaque sitting on your teeth around the braces can cause white scars on the teeth which take a long time to go away, if ever! Use your disclosing tablets to learn your challenging zones for brushing.
Show your gums some love: Dr. Frank recommends a waterpik for nightly gum care with orthodontic appliances including expanders and braces.
Orthodontics is a TEAM effort: It takes a caring orthodontist, assistant, parents and patient all working together to create the perfect smile.
As the human body grows, develops and ages, all parts of the body develop and shift. Teeth, as part of the body, also shift as part of the aging process, REGARDLESS OF ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT. An individual who has never had orthodontic treatment is likely to experience tooth shifting at some point in life. It is therefore recommended that retainers continue to be worn regularly at night forever to maintain ideal alignment. It is a convenient tool to prevent the aging process from affecting your ideal dental alignment.
Most of our patients at Oceans Orthodontics receive the more aesthetic and comfortable clear retainers. We are also proud to offer ‘permanent’ retainers to all of our patients to help reduce complications associated with imperfect retainer wear after treatment.
All removable retainers should be worn as follows:
- 22 hours per day for the first 6 months after orthodontic treatment
- 8 hours per day for months 6-12 after orthodontic treatment
- Regularly at night after 1 year following orthodontic treatment
All removable retainers should be cared for as follows:
- Brush your retainer each time your brush your teeth using cold water and NO toothpaste.
- Soak your retainer in ‘Retainer-Brite’ or similar fizzy solution.
- Do not use hot water, which may warp your retainer.
- Whenever your retainers are not in your mouth, put them in their case to avoid loss or damage.
- Never wrap your retainers in paper, tissue or plastic as they will be more likely to be discarded.
- Keep retainers away from dogs as they will be likely to chew on them and destroy them.
- Remove your retainers from the back rather than the front. Removal from the front will distort and eventually break your retainer.
Clear Invisacryl ‘Invisalign-style’ Retainer
It is important to brush your teeth after eating and before inserting your clear retainer. It is only permitted to drink clear, sugar-free, color-free and acid-free liquids (a.k.a. water) with your clear retainers in.
Bonded Lingual ‘Permanent’ Retainers (BLR)
When a BLR breaks, you will notice that one of the ‘bumps’ of cement will rock or move slightly on one or more teeth. This indicates that this tooth is likely to shift. This must be repaired as soon as possible.
Hawley ‘Traditional’ Retainers
These retainers are very durable and if treated well can last for decades.
Handling Orthodontic Issues
Cheek sores and discomfort:
It is normal to experience some discomfort of the cheeks and lips for about a week after new braces are put on. This lasts while the cheeks ‘toughen up’ to the new appliances. Use a small ball of orthodontic wax pressed firmly onto the problem area to relieve the irritation. This is often a life-saver, and don’t worry, its non-toxic and is ok if accidentally eaten. Over-the-Counter topical anesthetics such as Ora-Gel can also be very helpful.
It is common for teeth to be sore for 2-5 days or more after braces are installed, and for 1-2 days after each orthodontic adjustment ‘tightening’ visit. This is normal. We recommend eating soft foods during this time. Over-the-Counter pain relievers, especially Tylenol, are very helpful in relief of tooth soreness. **Special Oceans tip** Dr. Frank uses advanced nickel titanium orthodontic wires that are activated by your body heat to move teeth. If the soreness gets to be too much, ice cream, shakes, smoothies and other cold foods will temporarily deactivate the wires and relieve the pressure from the braces on the teeth. YUMMMM!!!
As your teeth straighten out between adjustment visits, the wire may protrude out the back of your molar braces and poke your cheeks or gums. This is also often relieved by pressing a ball of orthodontic wax onto the sharp wire. It can be a quick visit to snip this wire during normal office hours, or for the handy, it is possible to trim these long wires with surgical scissors or wirecutters, just be careful!
A loose bracket typically occurs due to eating prohibited foods or sports injuries. Broken brackets can sometimes delay progress because the teeth without brackets cannot move. This is why it is so important to prevent broken or loose brackets. When they do occur, please always call our office to let us know. We will be able to recommend if we will repair the brackets at your next visit or sooner if necessary. If the loose bracket is uncomfortable, orthodontic wax can help stop it from sliding on the wire.
Food caught in braces:
Use your handy interproximal brush to poke the food out