Life with Braces

Although you may feel like you have a mouth full of appliances, you are wearing the smallest, most comfortable braces available today. Smile and be happy, because you are well on your way to a super smile! Please read the following information carefully. The quality of our results depends on your active participation and cooperation.

Eating with Braces

Mealtimes with braces may feel awkward at first, but most people quickly adapt to eating with their appliances. However, you must adjust your diet to avoid certain foods that can damage your braces.


  • chewy foods: bagels, pizza crust, beef jerky.
  • hard foods: popcorn kernels, ice, peanuts, croutons, hard taco shells, pretzels, hard chips such as Doritos, slice up hard vegetables and fruits.
  • sticky foods: gum (of any kind), skittles, starburst, fun fruits, fruit roll-ups, snickers, paydays, caramel corn, caramel, now-n-laters, jolly ranchers, licorice, and taffy.
  • chewing on hard objects such as pens or pencils.
  • soda: sugar in soda allows acid to be produced which can cause cavities. For kids who need a little extra convincing, click here!
Sore teeth

For the first few days following an adjustment, your teeth may be tender. You may take whatever pain reliever you normally use for a headache. Ibuprofen products such as Advil or Motrin are recommended if there are no allergies to them. Ibuprofen contains anti-inflammatory ingredients that help relieve the tenderness.

Oral hygiene

Caring for your teeth with braces does require a little extra effort, but it is not difficult. In addition to the regular brushing you do after you eat, you will need to use the special proxy brush we provided to clean beneath your archwire and between brackets. There is also a special threading tool that helps get dental floss under the wire between your teeth. If you ever need reminding how to use these tools, just ask Dr. Powell or one of our orthodontic assistants for a refresher course.

We strongly recommend a daily fluoride rinse to our patients with clear, silver, or gold braces. ACT fluoride rinse is available through local pharmacies or grocery stores. Use it daily before bedtime. Rinse with it for 1 minute then spit out (do not swallow). Do not eat or drink anything following the fluoride rinse until morning. The rinse helps protect your teeth from developing white decalcification lesions.

Anti-plaque rinses such as Plax are different from the fluoride rinses and are fine to use with silver or gold braces but should not be used with clear braces. The anti-plaque rinses will stain the clear braces.

Toothpaste with fluoride should be utilized to help protect your teeth. Whitening toothpastes should be avoided during treatment. The whitening compound will whiten the tooth area around the bracket leaving a darker area where the bracket was attached.

Poor hygiene can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Each time we see you, we will check your dental hygiene and make suggestions for improvements if necessary. However, the responsibility for maintaining a healthy smile belongs to you.

For more information on caring for your orthodontic appliances including advice on brushing, flossing, and dealing with discomfort see our Patient Care Video.

Routine dental exams and cleanings are especially important during orthodontic treatment. Please see your dentist at least every 6 months for a check-up. Your dentist may request more frequent visits, and may employ special cleaning processes to remove any debris around your braces.

Potential emergencies

Even the most careful patient may occasionally damage his or her appliance. Some situations may warrant emergency treatment while others can be addressed at home or with a telephone consultation.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Loose Band or Bracket. Call our office at once. While a tight band actually protects a tooth from decay, a loose band can trap food particles quickly leading to decay. If you are out of town when a band or bracket comes loose you may have any orthodontist or dentist remove it. Keep all parts and bring them in when you come back to our office.
  • Stickers. "Stickers" are small wires that have broken or shifted out of place which can "stick" into mouth tissue causing discomfort. If the sticker is a wire tie around a bracket that has come loose, you may carefully remove it. Attached stickers often can be safely turned inward at home using a pencil eraser or some other smooth object to tuck the offending little wire out of the way. Alternatively, you may cover the sticker with orthodontic wax. Our office provides patients with this wax; anytime you need more, just ask for it.
  • Broken Arch Wire. If a main arch wire breaks (the one that goes all the way around the outside of your braces), call for an emergency appointment.
  • Missing Metal or Elastic Tie. This may or may not be an emergency. Please call our office.
  • Lost or Broken Retainer. Phone our office as soon as possible. Your teeth will move without a retainer, especially if your appliances were recently removed. Do not take any chances.
  • Gum Swelling or Abscess. Inflammation of the gums can be serious. Phone our office and ask to be seen.
Repeated damage to braces can slow progress and add months to your treatment. So take good care of them! If you do have a problem that needs special attention, please notify us, even if your regular appointment is in a few days. We will need to allow enough time during your visit to make repairs.

Orthodontics and sports

A protective mouth guard is advised for playing contact sports. We will supply a mouth guard to protect your teeth and braces if you wish. In case of an accident involving your face, check your mouth and appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances seem damaged, phone our office at once for an appointment.

Routine dental care

During orthodontic treatment it is vital that you continue to visit your general dentist regularly for examination and cleaning.
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