Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It's important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.
Eating with Braces
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.
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
Foods you CAN eat with braces:
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without 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 without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Soreness Caused from Braces and Appliances
10 Tips for Braces Pain Relief
Individuals think that braces are very painful, but there’s actually not much pain or discomfort after you get used to wearing them. You may feel some discomfort right after the orthodontist puts the braces on and when your wires are tightened, but there are ways to get braces pain relief.
1. Oral anesthetics
A simple way to get some braces pain relief is to rub an oral anesthetic like Orajel or Anbesol directly on the sensitive teeth and gums. You can use either a cotton swab or your finger to apply it. Oral anesthetics desensitize your teeth and gums so you don’t feel the discomfort of shifting teeth so acutely.
2. Over-the-counter pain medicine
Another option is to take over-the-counter pain medicine. If you know you always feel some discomfort after an orthodontic appointment, take the medicine an hour before your appointment. You’ll feel less pain and discomfort during and after your appointment this way.
Make sure you read the instructions on the medicine and follow the dosage instructions carefully. This medicine isn’t meant to be used on a consistent basis, so if you are still feeling pain and discomfort after a couple of days, contact us immediately.
3. An ice pack
Cold temperatures can reduce inflammation and numb the mouth so you don’t feel the pain. If you have an ice pack handy, it’ll work great. Just apply the ice pack to the outside of your mouth for braces pain relief.
4. Cold ice water
If none of the options mentioned above are available, then a simple glass of cold ice water can also do the trick. After you get back from your orthodontic appointment, sip on a nice cold glass of ice water. This will numb your mouth enough to relieve some of the pain and discomfort.
5. Soft foods
With traditional wire braces, there are a lot of restrictions, especially when it comes down to what you can eat. You should not eat hard candy, gum, and hard to chew foods with braces on. You may want to stick to avoiding just crunchy foods right after getting your braces put on and after each tightening. You can do this by sticking to soft foods like soups, mashed potatoes. and cereal.
Even if you chose Invisalign and don’t have to worry about wire straightening, you’ll still have an adjustment period with each new set of aligners. During these adjustment periods, be kind to your mouth and stick to softer foods.
6. Orthodontic wax
You will most likely get orthodontic wax sent home with you. This is a special wax that protects the inside of your lips, cheeks, and gums from the brackets of the braces. The wax creates a barrier that keeps the sharp ends of the brackets from irritating your mouth.
Follow the instructions that you’re given to use orthodontic wax. Basically, you mold the wax over the bracket that is causing the irritation. It is a nontoxic wax so you don’t have to worry about accidentally swallowing some, but remember to take it off before brushing your teeth. Reapply the wax after brushing your teeth and after meals.
7. A warm rinse
While cold temperatures certainly do the trick, a warm salt water rinse can help too. Gurgling with warm salt water can help heal any sores or cuts you might have in your mouth and on your gums from the braces.
8. A gum massage
If massaging a sore shoulder works, why not massage your gums for pain relief too? It’s also really simple to do too. All you have to do is gently rub your gums in a circular fashion with one of your fingers. For the full effect, rub your gums with a block of ice before massaging them. You should only do this long enough to relax your swollen gums though.
9. Good dental hygiene
How you take care of your teeth and braces can also make a difference in how much pain and discomfort you have. The most important thing to remember when wearing braces is that you have to keep both your teeth and braces sparking clean to ward off tooth decay and gum inflammation. Food will get stuck on the brackets and wires so you also need to clean them thoroughly. Make sure you brush, floss, and use mouth wash to ensure that you get rid of all the food particles leftover from when you eat.
10. Need to be patient
Probably the most important tip to get through this adjustment period is to be patient. Keep your overall goal in mind: a healthier, beautiful smile. The pain and discomfort will only last a few days, but your new smile will always be with you so you should take proper care of it.
When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal 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.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth 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 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 appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax or rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.