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Helpful Tips



(Click Tabs for each section)


  • Oral Hygiene
  • Foods to Avoid
  • Parts of Braces
  • Emergencies
Orthodontic Hygiene

Now that you have your braces in place, it’s even more important to maintain good hygiene during your treatment. Braces, wires, bands and retainers can trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Careful brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal and snack, is the best way to prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Brushing – Start with the outside of the teeth, with the brush flat against the surface of teeth. Use circular, vibrating motions.
  • Flossing – Floss at least once a day. You need to pull the floss under the archwire with a floss threader. Start by pulling floss through the threader.
  • Rinsing – When you’re finished brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or an antiseptic dental rinse. An antiseptic rinse can help minor gum inflammations and irritations from orthodontic appliances, as well as cleanse canker sores and other minor wounds. It can also remove debris or irritants from the mouth, speeding up your body’s natural healing process.
  • Inerdental Toothbrush – Using an interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) can help keep your teeth, braces and gums clean and healthy. Use this device slowly and carefully to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces, taking care not to damage your braces.
  • Retainer Care – Since retainers can accumulate food particles and plaque, brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth. Also soak your retainer once a day in a glass of room-temperature tap water with a denture-cleaning tablet. This will help prevent plaque build-up and oral infections and keep it tasting better. DO NOT use hot water, which can distort the appliance.
  • Food Guidelines – During your first week in braces, stick to a soft food diet until any discomfort subsides. Afterward, you can eat just about anything while wearing braces, with a few exceptions. You should avoid hard foods like ice and pizza crust, as well as sticky foods such as caramels and chewing gum, since they can damage wires and brackets. Also minimize sugary foods like ice cream and cookies, and reduce sugared drinks like soda or milk to once a day.

FAMILY BRACES • Foods to avoid with braces

While you are wearing braces, please avoid eating hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar. Hard foods can break or damage the wires and brackets, and sticky foods can get caught between the wires and brackets. Minimize the amount of sugary foods you eat; the sugar can cause tooth decay and other related problems.

Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Gum (sugar-free or regular)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst

Examples of Hard Foods to Avoid:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Chips
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Pizza crust
  • Uncooked carrots (unless cut)

Minimize Sugary Foods like:

  • Cake
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy

Special Occasions Only:

  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Drinks with sugar

We encourage patients to quit bad habits, such as fingernail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects. All of these activities can break or damage your braces.

It’s important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. If you have a loose/broken wire or bracket, please call our office immediately to arrange a repair appointment.

It can be helpful to understand the various parts of orthodontic braces and how they work.

Bands:

Parts of Braces

Bands are a ring of metal which fit around the molars and sometimes premolars. The bands are selected from a range of sizes in order to find the tightest-fitting band. The bands are sealed into position using dental cement that contains fluoride to prevent any decalcification during treatment.

Brackets:

Parts of Braces

Brackets hold the archwire against each tooth, and the archwire fits into a slot in the bracket. Brackets may be attached directly to each tooth or to a band.

Archwire:

Parts of Braces

The main wires, known as archwires, are shaped specifically to fit around the arch of the teeth. The archwire fits into a slot in each bracket. Teeth are moved by the pressure that is applied by the braces, and that pressure comes from the archwire, which guides tooth movement.

Elastics:

Parts of Braces

An elastic is the tiny rubber ring that ties the archwire into the bracket.

Hooks:

Parts of Braces

Hooks are small attachments on brackets that are used to attach rubber bands for added pressure.

Coil Spring:

Parts of Braces

A coil spring fits over the archwire between two brackets. It pushes the two brackets apart, creating space between those two teeth.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic emergencies are, thankfully, very rare. The following topics can help you address most orthodontic problems at home. However, for any situation you cannot resolve on your own, contact our office as soon as possible so we can schedule an appointment for you.

  • Sore Teeth – You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers to alleviate any discomfort. A warm wash cloth, heating pad or warm salt water rinse may also reduce any soreness in your jaws.
  • Wire Irritation – Try moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been properly washed and sterilized.
  • Loose Bracket – Contact our office to schedule a refitting or repair. In situations where you must cut the wire or slide a bracket off the wire, you may use fingernail clippers that have been properly washed and sterilized.
  • Lost Separator – Contact our office to see if it needs to be replaced. Many patients naturally lose separators during treatment, and it is rarely a cause for concern.
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