Caring for Your Braces
Not only will caring for your braces help you maintain excellent oral hygiene, it will also ensure your treatment stays on track. We promise, your braces won’t have a huge impact on your daily life, but there are steps you’ll have to take to keep your appliance (and your smile) in top-notch shape.
When you first start adjusting your daily life with braces, your teeth can be a little sensitive. Sticking with soft foods and cold foods and drinks can be super helpful. Mashed potatoes, yogurt, applesauce, macaroni and cheese, smoothies, ice water, milkshakes and soup are all excellent examples of what to eat with braces until any sensitivity subsides.
Yet, it’s not only what you eat with braces that matters but also how you eat with braces. Avoid broken or loose brackets by cutting or breaking everything into bite-sized pieces and chewing with your back teeth. Never bite or tear into food with your front teeth. While you can still enjoy most of your favorite foods during treatment, there are certain things to steer clear of since they can damage your appliance.
Foods to avoid with braces include:
- Chewy foods – bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, raw carrots, ice
- Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods – nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into – corn on the cob (you can take it off the cob), whole apples, meat on the bone
Brushing and Flossing
Oral hygiene is more important than ever when you have braces. This is because the brackets and wires can trap food and plaque, which, if not removed, can lead to cavities and stains, and possibly even increase your treatment time. Here are some tips for brushing and flossing with braces that will help you keep your appliance and smile sparkling clean:
- Brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. If you’re not home and you forgot your toothbrush, rinse your mouth out really well with water after eating and brush your teeth as soon as you get home.
- Use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste and brush in a circular motion along the gum line, around your brackets and on every surface of the tooth. Give each tooth individual attention.
- Use a proxy brush, or interdental brush, to clean in those tight spaces around your brackets.
- Don’t forget about flossing with braces! Floss once daily to eliminate food particles and plaque in the areas your toothbrush can’t reach. To make things easier, use a floss threader or an orthodontic flosser. Once the floss is under the wire and in between any two teeth, floss up and down the side of one tooth all the way up to the gumline, and then floss up and down the side of the other tooth. Move on to the next set of teeth and repeat the process until you’ve flossed your entire mouth.
- Using a waterpik for braces is safe and highly recommended. While it doesn’t replace regular flossing, using a water flosser in conjunction with conventional flossing will ensure your teeth and gums are squeaky clean. It’s also helpful for dislodging stubborn bits of food.
- For even more cavity protection and extra fresh breath, use a fluoride mouthwash twice a day for 60 seconds each time.
- Continue to visit your general dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups every six months throughout your braces treatment.
Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear your rubber bands, headgear, retainer or other appliances as prescribed by Dr. VanderWall. By sticking with the treatment plan, you’ll be able to see your new smile that much sooner!
Playing Sports With Braces
Great news for athletes! You can still play sports during your orthodontic treatment. To keep your braces and teeth safe, you should wear a mouthguard when playing sports or doing any physical activity that could result in a blow to the mouth. If you’re an athlete, let Dr. VanderWall know and he can help you find the right mouthguard that will offer the best protection.