Your Guide To Braces

When it’s time to get braces in Charleston, there may be several things running through your mind. What will you be able to eat? How will you look? Will you speak differently? Will braces hurt? These are all questions you can ask our team, but once your braces are put on your teeth, there are definitely a few minor changes you can expect. Here are some braces tips you need to know!

There Will Be Certain Foods To Avoid

Your favorite foods may be off-limits because they could damage your braces. Chewy foods, like bagels, licorice, or gum, as well as crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, apples, and raw carrots, all run the risk of getting stuck in or damaging your braces.

Food limitations make it seem as though braces are taking away the fun of eating, but it’s an important precaution you should take to ensure your treatment progresses as it should. Any oral health concerns or damage to your braces can prolong treatment, so we recommend you keep your teeth as healthy as possible.

However, for all the foods you can’t eat, there are plenty you can! Feel free to indulge in dairy products, pancakes, muffins, chicken, lunch meats, fish, mashed potatoes, and bananas as well as occasional soft sweets — just make sure you’re brushing after every meal!

Braces Need To Be Taken Care Of

Because you’re exposing them to the same bacteria as your tooth enamel, your braces also run the risk of building up plaque. Brushing and flossing are crucial with braces, and doing so on a regular basis will help keep your teeth strong and free of cavities.

We usually recommend brushing your teeth after every meal and flossing once a day to remove the plaque from between your teeth and braces. Our team can give you specific brushing and flossing instructions and recommend tools you can use to make the process much easier. Many of our patients invest in a water pik, which is a great addition to brushing and flossing while in braces but shouldn’t be used to replace them.

You Might Feel Some Discomfort At First

In the beginning, your braces may feel foreign in your mouth. Speaking will take some getting used to, and you might feel some irritation along your gums and lips. Any tenderness that you feel is normal and should subside once your mouth adjusts to the brackets and wires.

Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will soothe any sensitive areas, and there are special waxes that you can spread onto your braces to eliminate friction. Over-the-counter pain relievers are also effective at treating irritation. Our team can suggest other ways to alleviate soreness as well.

Slightly Loose Teeth Are Normal, But Loose Appliances Are Not

It may be shocking to feel your teeth becoming loose with braces, but we can assure you it’s perfectly normal. For you to have a healthier, straighter smile, your teeth need to loosen and move according to your treatment plan. Once your teeth reach their proper place, they will feel normal again. Don’t worry if you are temporarily a loose-teeth kid, you will be okay!

On the other hand, if you have an archwire or bracket that has come loose, it’s important that you call our office. There are many ways to fix these issues over the phone without having to come to our office, and we will be able to either give you the instructions you need or schedule an appointment if necessary.

Use Caution When Playing Sports

Your braces shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love! Feel free to participate in extracurricular activities like you always have, but if you play a sport, we recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces from injury.

Braces take some getting used to, but in time, they will become a regular part of your life. If you have additional questions or concerns about your orthodontic treatment with braces, contact one of our offices and we will be glad to help you.

Caring For Your Braces

When you brush:

  • Place the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums
  • Make gentle brushing motions in a circular pattern
  • Brush the outer surface of your tooth enamel along with the areas that you use to chew
  • Use the upper portion of your toothbrush to clean the inner surfaces of each tooth

When you floss:

  • Use 18 inches of dental floss and wrap the ends around both index fingers
  • Gradually unravel the floss and thread it between your braces and archwire
  • Make a C-motion as you floss around your braces
  • Use the same motion between each tooth

Repeat this technique for every area around your braces and each tooth.

Your teeth will maintain their health if you brush your teeth after every meal and floss once per day. Frequent brushing ensures any remaining bacteria are removed every time you clean your teeth.

We also recommend avoiding certain foods that may make it harder to clean your teeth. Sugary, sticky, and chewy foods can become lodged in between or within the surface of the teeth and be difficult to remove.

If you are having trouble brushing or flossing efficiently, talk to our orthodontists or a team member about other tools you can use to remove plaque from your teeth. These tools include a two-minute timer that helps you allocate the appropriate amount of time to your teeth as you brush, and a floss threader, which makes it easier to work the floss around the brackets and wires of your braces.

Before bed, we recommend that you use the timer and brush your upper teeth for two minutes and your lower teeth for two minutes. It may seem like an eternity, but getting all the plaque off your teeth before bed is critical due to your salivary flow decreasing at night and increasing your chances of tooth and gum problems if plaque is left on the teeth.