Patient Care Instructions

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Life With Braces

Taking Care Of Your Braces & Orthodontic Appliances

We want make sure you have everything you need to properly care for your teeth, gums, and appliances so that your smile can really shine! We have downloadable care sheets below, as well as some simple care instructions on this page for easy reference. If you ever have a question that isn't covered here just give us a call!

Helpful Orthodontic Handouts!

Separators or Spacers

Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods, toothpicks, or floss.

Foods you CAN eat with braces:

    Dairy – soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
    Breads – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins w/o 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, fruit juice
    Treats – ice cream w/o nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Foods to avoid with braces:

    Chewy foods – bagels, licorice
    Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, ice
    Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum
    Hard foods – nuts, hard candies
    Foods that require biting into – corn on the cob, apples, carrots

    Soreness caused from braces and appliances

When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal for patients who have just gotten their braces put on, and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know!

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth in order to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.
Loose Wires and Bands

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Take Care of your Appliances

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

Playing Sports with Braces

Game, Set, Match – we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let your doctor know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (or rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed and remember that the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they’re worn as prescribed.

Headgear

Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an overbite, with the upper jaw forward of the lower jaw, or an “underbite” with the lower jaw forward of the upper jaw. Headgear gently “pulls” on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.
Herbst Appliance

The Herbst appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.

Palatal Expander

The palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression
Retainers

Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened with braces or Invisalign. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.

Three Types of Retainers

types-of-orthodontic-retainers