Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss.
Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain.
Treatment by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems. For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics, and your beautiful smile will contribute to improved overall dental health.
Types of Braces
Metal braces are the most common. They are made of high grade stainless steel. Today’s braces are much smaller and more comfortable. Most of our patients like to dress up the braces with different colors of elastics that can be changed at each appointment. Multiple colors of elastics are available.
Clear ceramic braces are an aesthetic alternative to traditional metal braces. Clear braces move your teeth in exactly the same way as metal braces do. Like metal braces, they are extremely comfortable to wear and very efficient at moving teeth.
If all you need is a little cosmetic improvement for a great smile and you’d prefer not to have braces, the nearly invisible Red, White and Blue no-braces system may be the treatment for you. A quick evaluation will tell if you are a candidate for this convenient treatment and if so, you can have a dazzling new smile in just a few months.
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can best be relieved by an over the counter pain reliever of your choice.
The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how! If irritation is not resolved with wax, you can use a warm saltwater mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the discomfort persists, you can use an over the counter pain reliever or whatever you would normally use to relieve a headache or similar pain.
Eating with Braces
What can you 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 enjoy most of your normal diet, but you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces.
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
- Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
- Sticky foods: caramels, gummy bears
- Hard foods: nuts, 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. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.
It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic 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.
If you play sports, it’s important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.
Retainer replacement is expensive… with proper care they will last for years!
- Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but do not take the place of brushing.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
- Remove retainers when swimming.
- Take your retainers out when eating and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)
- Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
- Do not try to adjust them yourself. If retainers are lost or broken call us immediately.
- Your retainers are your guarantee against tooth relapse.
- Always bring your retainers to your retainer check appointments.
Loose Bracket – Band
Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and gently push the small wire under the main archwire. Simply get it out of the way.
If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or a small piece of chewing gum on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.
As a general rule, an emergency appointment may be made when there is severe pain, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can’t take care of.
It’s important to know the names of the parts of your appliances. It will help, when you phone the office, to be able to identify what part is broken or out of place.