Home Care: Frequently Asked Questions
Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
Yes. The bands, brackets and wires are very delicate and foods that are chewy, sticky or hard can break them. We recommend you avoid hard candy, taffy, caramels, gum, hard pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, whole apples, raw carrots, corn on the cob and other hard vegetables and fruit. Also, don't use your teeth to open containers and be sure to cut up meat into bite-sized pieces, especially steak and ribs, rather than use your teeth to separate the meat from the bone.
Patients with ceramic braces will need to avoid colas, coffee, red wine, dark-colored berries and fruit juices that can cause the ceramic brackets to stain. A good rule of thumb: if it can stain your carpet, it can probably stain your ceramic braces. Video
Do I need to brush my teeth differently?
No matter what type of orthodontic treatment you have, you'll need to be especially thorough when brushing your teeth to prevent cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. Patients with wires and brackets will need to brush after every meal to prevent food and plaque buildup around the wires, brackets, bands, teeth and gums. A soft-bristled revolving power toothbrush is usually recommended. Start brushing down from the top of each tooth, then switch to brushing up from the bottom of each tooth. Video
Patients with clear aligners will need to brush even more frequently because aligners prevent saliva from helping to wash away the food and plaque.
Our team of specialists will show you the proper brushing and flossing techniques, and may recommend that you use an irrigation device to loosen trapped food particles, too.
How do I floss if I have braces?
You still need to floss once a day, even if you have braces. Break off a piece of unwaxed floss that is equal in length to the distance between your finger and elbow. Thread the floss between the main arch wire and part of the tooth closest to gum, moving it gently up and down to remove plaque from the sides of the teeth and the area between the teeth. Repeat this process until you've flossed between all of your teeth, but don't use too much pressure around the wire. Video
How do I use a dental irrigation device?
Fill the device's reservoir with water or an antimicrobial rinse recommended by your orthodontist. Turn on the irrigator and direct the stream between all teeth and around brackets and wires. The irrigator will use a pulsing motion to loosen plaque and food particles so you can brush them way.
How do I clean my aligner?
Brush aligners using lukewarm water and a soft-bristled brush or the kit that your orthodontist provided. Aligners can be soaked and cleaned in the denture solution your orthodontist recommended. Do not use toothpaste or any other abrasive material on your aligners. Also, do not boil your aligners or they will melt.
Emergency Care: Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I have an orthodontic emergency?
Please call your SmileCare office so we can set up an appointment to make any necessary repairs. Many situations can wait to be addressed until your next appointment. However, we have a dentist on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why are my teeth sore?
Your teeth may be sore for three to four days after an adjustment. Your orthodontist may recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen or eat a cold snack like ice pops or ice cream to alleviate the discomfort.
What do I do if my cheeks or gums are irritated?
At your initial braces fitting and with each wire change, you may experience some discomfort as your mouth gets used to the braces. You can rinse with warm water, place wax over any troublesome brackets or wires, or use a dab of Oral Gel help alleviate sore spots. Video
What do I do if a brace loosens?
Wire braces are made up of several parts. Occasionally, parts or wires become loose. If a brace is loose and is still attached to the wire, wax can help hold it in place until your next orthodontist appointment. If it comes off completely, please call the office for guidance. Video
What do I do if a wire is poking my cheek or gum?
You have a few options. If the wire is loose, you can use tweezers to try to put the wire back into place. If the wire is too long, you can use a pencil eraser to push the poking wire down or you can place wax on the wire to cushion it. As a last resort, you could also clip the wire with a clean nail clipper. If you clip the wire, call the office to make an appointment to have it repaired. Video
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