Braces Care & Maintenance
Brushing & Flossing With Braces
It’s critically important to brush and floss regularly when you have braces so your teeth and gums remain healthy during treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment. Watch the two videos below on the proper care of braces during orthodontic treatment.
Eating with Braces
What can you eat with braces? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces. The first thing you must learn to do is to cut up your food into small pieces and use your back teeth for chewing.
Foods to Avoid With Braces
- Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
- Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice
- Sticky foods: caramels, gum
- Hard foods: nuts, hard pretzels
- Sugary food: candy
- Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. When a bracket (brace) comes loose and is no longer attached to your tooth, that tooth is no longer moving. In fact, it could begin moving back to wear it stared. Obviously, loose and broken braces will cause treatment to take longer, and could lead to poorer results.
General Soreness With Braces
When you get your braces, your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for 3 – 5 days. Take whatever you normally take for headache or discomfort. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the braces. We will supply wax to put on the braces in irritated areas to lessen discomfort.
Loosening of Teeth
This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen so they can move. The teeth will firm up in their new corrected positions after treatment is completed.
Loose Wire or Band On Your Braces
Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire sticks out and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (eraser end of a pencil) and carefully tuck in the irritating wire if you can. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the problem.
Rubber Band Wear
To successfully complete orthodontic treatment, the patient must work together with the orthodontist in Vestal, NY. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands or other appliances as prescribed. Lack of cooperation following instructions and damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time so please follow instructions.
Athletics & Braces
If you play sports, it’s important you let us know. A protective mouthguard is provided for playing contact sports with braces.
Retainers After Braces
The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:
Once braces are removed, the patient will receive retainers to stabilize their orthodontic correction. Because the bone and gums surrounding the teeth are stabilizing after braces are removed, it is imperative that the retainers are worn as instructed. Failure to wear the retainers may result in undesirable movement of the teeth, which could necessitate re-treatment.
How retainers are worn
Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely. We have found following a routine of wearing your removable retainer every night is sufficient. It will not be necessary to wear your retainer 24/7.
During the first year after braces removal, Dr. Muench will see you every 4 months to monitor compliance with retainers and the stability of your bite. Also, this will allow Dr. Muench to make recommendations for your wisdom teeth.
Once the wisdom teeth have been decided on, wear your retainer at least one night per week. This is because, as you get older, the muscles that surround your teeth will get tighter and place pressure on your teeth, causing them to move or crowd.
How to care for retainers
- Retainers are made of a plastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperature exceeds 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Retainers should be kept in the proper retainer case when they are not in the patient’s mouth.
- Keep away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
- Clean before and after placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush will remove the plaque. A denture cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the retainers thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue.
Because retainers are worn for years, they may need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes one set of retainers after the braces are removed. If the retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If the retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.
Fixed retainers (Bonded Wire)
This wire should stay on forever. The only exception is if your family dentist says you are not keeping it clean and it is beginning to cause gum or decay problems. If this should occur, please have the wire removed and replaced with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Muench prescribes. The fixed wire will protect the teeth as the patient gets older and your facial muscles get tighter. Please have this wire monitored by your family dentist at your six-month check ups.
Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention
- Mouth breathing
- Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
- Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
- Playing a musical instruments with a reed
- Lip sucking
- Pen or pencil biting
- Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
- Severely rotated teeth
Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.
Dental Examinations & Cleanings
The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, to include thorough brushing and flossing techniques. His or her family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.