LIFE WITH BRACES
Here are some of the common questions our patients have about braces and what you can expect at the first braces appointment:
DO I NEED TO KEEP GOING TO THE DENTIST DURING MY TIME IN BRACES OR CLEAR ALIGNERS?
Yes! In fact, regular dental cleanings and cavity checks are even more important while in orthodontic treatment. To ensure the health of your teeth and gums, patients with braces or clear aligners should see their regular dentist every six months.
CAN I USE WHITENING TOOTHPASTE?
You can continue to use your preferred toothpaste during orthodontic treatment. This includes whitening toothpaste. The active agents can get under the braces and around the attachments of clear aligners.
CAN I USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH WITH BRACES?
Of course! You want to use an electric toothbrush that has a small head so you can get between the braces and get close to the gums. This is a popular toothbrush that we recommend for braces patients.
DOES GETTING BRACES HURT?
No! Braces and attachments go on the surface of your teeth like stickers. However, it is common for there to be some pressure and sensitivity from your new accessories that will fade within a few days as your body adjusts. During this time we recommend a few strategies to stay comfortable. These include opting for softer foods and taking Tylenol or Advil either as a preventative measure (before or immediately after your first appointment) or as needed, depending on the preference of the patient. The good news is that any initial discomfort is temporary and things only gets better and easier after the first visit.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE MY BRACES APPOINTMENT?
Some patients are happy to have taken Advil or Tylenol in advance of having braces put on in order to ease any early discomfort of tooth movement. This is optional based on each patient's personal preference. As long as Tylenol or Advil is tolerated by the patient, we see no downside to this approach. Do not have fluoride treatment with your dentist within the two weeks leading up to braces. A regular cleaning is perfectly fine, just skip the flouride as it can interfere with the adhesion of your brackets or aligner attachments.
CAN I USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH AND WATERPIK TO CARE FOR MY BRACES?
Absolutely! The small head of an electric toothbrush is ideal for braces. A Waterpik is a nice addition to your care, but it should not replace flossing.
CAN I GO BACK TO SCHOOL OR WORK AFTER GETTING BRACES?
Yes. Although your mouth will feel different as you adjust to new braces, you can return to your regular activities without delay. One area that may require some adjusting from previous habits is food, as certain foods can put your braces at risk. Please see the separate section about food for complete guidelines on what to avoid and what to enjoy.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET USED TO BRACES?
It takes about two weeks for your body to adjust fully to the presence of braces. It is completely normal for things to feel strange in the early days. There are now little bumps where everything used to feel smooth. Just as your feet can experience a break-in period with new shoes, your gums, lips, cheeks, and tongue will need to adjust to their new neighbors. The related discomfort, pressure, or soft tissue reactions usually go away within seven to ten days. You can help restore comfort faster using strategies like applying the orthodontic wax provided at your braces-on appointment, using an over-the-counter peroxide rinse, or rinsing with warm salt water.
I STILL HAVE BABY TEETH, WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM IN BRACES?
Some patients still have baby teeth during their orthodontic treatment. This is completely normal. If there is a bracket on a baby tooth we will either remove the bracket or untie it from the wire so the baby tooth can fall out normally. Most commonly, we will not put braces on baby teeth and they will fall out on their own naturally.
WHY DOES MY BITE FEEL FUNNY?
Some patients need a "bite turbo," which is a small buildup of composite material that is applied to guard you from biting into your brackets. These can take some getting used to and may feel "in the way." However, they are called turbos because they can do a lot to accelerate treatment. For more good news: they are only noticeable at the very beginning, and you will have forgotten it's even there by the second week of treatment.
WHAT FOODS ARE SAFE FOR BRACES? WHAT FOODS CAN I NOT HAVE WITH BRACES?
Being mindful of what you eat with braces will support your dental health as well as the effectiveness and speed of your treatment. In general, you will want to avoid foods that will put your brackets at risk or that make keeping your teeth clean more challenging. Sometimes these foods can be hard to spot, but they include foods that are:
- Hard: Nuts, hard candies, ice
- Dense: Bagels, licorice, pizza crust, tough cuts of meat
- Difficult to chew or bite into: Corn on the cob, apples, carrots, chicken legs/wings
- Crunchy: Chips, popcorn, ice
- Sticky: Caramel, chewing gum
- Sugary beverages: Sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees
It is worth noting that how your food is prepared and served can make a difference. Whole apples and whole carrots are not a good idea, however, shredded carrots or apples would be acceptable. Soups are also an excellent choice, and provide a flavorful option with softened, braces-friendly vegetables. Chicken that is taken off the bone prior ot eating is also more than fine. The idea of these guidelines is to prevent your braces from being subjected to undue force. Avoiding sweet beverages is to help your teeth stay clean and healthy by not bathing them in sugar during a time when brushing and flossing require additional effort.
FOODS YOU CAN EAT WITH BRACES:
- Dairy — cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Bread — 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, grapes
- Treats — ice cream without nuts or chocolate chips, smoothies, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake, pie
HOW OFTEN ARE MY BRACES/INVISALIGN APPOINTMENTS?
Appointments for braces are usually 8-10 weeks apart for the majority of treatment. As you approach the end of treatment, these intervals typically get shorter and appointments are closer to 4 weeks apart. Appointments for Invisalign are spaced between 6 to 16 weeks apart, depending on where you are in treatment and how well the aligners are fitting.
HOW OFTEN CAN I CHANGE THE COLORS ON MY BRACES?
You can get new colors every time you come in! If you want new colors on your braces sooner than that, let our office know!
HOW DO I BRUSH AND FLOSS WITH BRACES?
Brush in a circular motion right where the gums and teeth meet. This is the most important part of keeping the teeth and braces clean. It’s especially important as food and plaque can slow down tooth movement as they create friction between the braces and wires. If you want to get out of braces faster, keep them clean! We will review this with you in detail at your first appointment and here is a starter guide to brushing and flossing with braces https://www.beautifulsmiles.com/brushing-and-flossing If you have a palate expander, make sure you brush it too! You need to be able to see the whole where the expander key will go.
HOW DO I USE ORTHODONTIC WAX ON MY BRACES?
First, get the area nice and dry with a paper towel or Q-tip. Roll the wax into a little ball about the size of a pea and place it right on the bracket or wire that is causing discomfort. If you happen to notice that one of your brackets is loose, please call us and let us know.
WILL I NEED TO WEAR RUBBER BANDS?
Rubber bands are usually not prescribed at your first visit, but when they do enter the picture, wearing them consistently and as instructed can have a major impact on your total time in treatment. Great elastic wear can take off months and months of time in braces!
HOW CAN I GET OUT OF BRACES FASTER?
Clean teeth! Clean teeth have less friction with the wires and braces and faster tooth movements. Wear your rubber bands as instructed. Avoid hard and sticky food that is most likely to cause bracket breakage.
HOW DO ORTHODONTIC WIRES WORK?
Your first orthodontic wire will be light, flexible, and round. Orthodontic wires are wide, horseshoe-shaped wires that help align the teeth and begin to tip and rotate them to your new arch form. You might see space open up between teeth (just a few millimeters) and things can often look different before they look better as the teeth move to their new positions. The next wires are rectangular and engage the bracket more fully to move the roots and allow for controlled space closure. Lastly, your final wires are made of stainless steel and these allow for small bends to be made in the wire which can precisely move the teeth.
WHAT ARE ORTHODONTIC WIRES MADE OF?
The wires are made of nickel-titanium or stainless steel alloy. They are sometimes heat activated (at body temperature they begin to firm up) but don’t worry, hot foods won’t make them stronger or cause more activation but a cold food (like ice cream) can offer temporary relief from pressure.
CAN I PLAY SPORTS WITH BRACES?
You can still play sports while in orthodontic treatment. We will provide you with an appropriately-sized mouthguard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.