Wearing braces is a life-changing dental process you will not regret. The result of straight teeth that are not crowded and have the right bite pattern is certainly worth the months spent wearing orthodontic braces. Instead of dreading this time, create a positive mindset to embrace living life with braces. You can increase your confidence when wearing braces by smiling often and securely. Consider your new dental work as entrance into a select group of individuals who prize the health of their teeth as a reflection of their personal style. After the first week of slight discomfort, most wearers of braces hardly notice the difference.
Eating With Braces
When eating with braces, be careful to protect your teeth and braces. Eating certain foods can be damaging to braces or cause pain. And, the wires and brackets in braces create numerous tiny spaces under and between the bands and wires, making teeth more difficult to thoroughly clean. Below is information to help you focus on reducing your risk of damage to braces, pain, accelerated tooth decay, or permanent discoloration of teeth.
Choose Soft, Non-Sticky, Non-Chewy Foods.
Eat foods that are the least likely to cause damage to your braces or pain to your teeth. Steam your vegetables to make them softer to bite. Foods that are recommended for eating with braces include soup, mashed potatoes, yogurt, pasta, soft cheeses, soft meats (without bones) such as deli meats, chicken, and, meatballs, applesauce, pudding, bananas, seafoods (without bones) like fish or crab cakes, eggs, cooked beans, pancakes, soft breads, biscuits, muffins, ice cream or milkshake, and Jello.
Avoid Foods That May Damage Your Braces
Avoid sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy foods. These can break, bend, or loosen the bands, wires or brackets of your braces, or cause pain, or prolong your need to wear braces. When eating with braces, avoid hard, thick, sticky, or chewy cookies and candy. Avoid nuts, sticky or crunchy peanut butter, apples or other raw hard vegetables or fruits (unless cut into very small pieces), chewy breads (unless torn into very small pieces), popcorn, and chewing gum.
Prevent Accelerated Tooth Decay
Teeth are more vulnerable to accelerated tooth decay from eating with braces, due to greater difficulty in thoroughly cleaning teeth. So, avoid high-sugar foods, like desserts and candies, and beverages such as sweet fruit juices, soda, lemonade, and sport’s drinks. Also, frequently consuming high-acid foods or beverages (like citrus fruits or soda) can damage tooth enamel. Additionally, try to avoid high-starch foods, such as French Fries and potato chips, which can stick to teeth around the braces, promoting tooth decay.
Brushing & Flossing With Braces
When you have braces, brushing and flossing can be a little more complicated, but it’s important to do a thorough job each day to keep the teeth clean and healthy. By properly brushing with braces, you can keep your teeth from becoming discolored around the braces. Proper flossing will ensure better gum health and keep food from being lodged between teeth and under the gums.
Getting Your Brushing Tools Together
When you have braces, the brackets and wires make the job a little challenging in the beginning. Brushing with braces often requires a regular toothbrush as well as a small, compact brush that can be fit in between the brackets. Some toothbrushes come with a raised area in the middle that is easier to fit over brackets. Compact brushes generally come with replacement heads that make them simple to change out after use. Flossing will require the use of floss picks to get under wires and in between teeth
Start With a Few Teeth
While most people are used to brushing many teeth at once, brushing with braces works a little differently. It’s important to brush only a couple of teeth at a time in order to clean all surfaces effectively. This may take a little more time, but it is much more effective. Be sure to brush each part of the tooth and to brush the areas around each bracket. Once each of your teeth has been brushed, you can move on to flossing to ensure that no food is left behind.
Flossing for Cleaner Teeth
Flossing with braces can be tricky at first, but using floss picks can make it easier. Simply use the pick to get in between each of your teeth and to get any remaining food away from the gum line. Floss picks are stiff enough that they can be threaded behind the wire of your braces and put in just the right places to dislodge any food particles. Seeing where to thread the pick in between the back teeth may take time at first, but it soon becomes easier.
Brushing and Flossing After Meals
Most people brush their teeth first thing in the morning and right before bed. However, brushing with braces and flossing with braces should be done after each meal. This is the best way to keep food from building up on the brackets and to keep food from compacting around your teeth. Get into the habit of having a toothbrush and floss picks with you wherever you go to make it easy to take care of your teeth after every meal.
Wearing braces places steady pressure on your teeth. This, in turn, forces the ligaments connecting your teeth to the jaw bone to slowly shift, allowing your teeth to move into a correct alignment. Due to this shift, you may experience mild pain during adjustments. While the pain is not overwhelming, it helps to know what you can expect.
What Causes the Pain?
While the shift in your teeth due to the movement of your ligaments allows for your teeth to move, this is not necessarily the source of the braces pain. In fact, it is not completely understood as to what exactly the pain is you are sensing. However, it typically is connected with blood flow to your teeth. The body releases different proteins and delivers these to your teeth, treating the shift as an injury, which can cause inflammation.
How Painful Will it Be?
This question regarding braces pain cannot be directly answered. This is because everyone experiences braces differently. The pain one person feels likely will not be the same as yours. With that said, it is important for you to have access to some pain medication to help reduce this feeling, should it increase. The best way to do this is by using an over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil, ideally, take a combination of the two for optimal pain relief.
Reduce the Chance of Pain
The movement in your teeth is what causes lingering pain. However, you can aid in causing the pain by eating hard foods. When you eat hard foods your teeth push down and compress the ligaments under the roots. These ligaments are already stretching, so the added compression can cause an increase in braces pain. Due to this, it is best to avoid consuming large amounts of hard food. If you're currently experiencing a heightened level of pain, look to eat softer foods (such as pasta or cooked veggies) for the time being.
What if I Develop Sores?
Sores may develop if the braces on your teeth continually rub on your gums and cheeks. If this ever happens it is best to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water rinses, then place a topical ointment (such as Orabase or Orajel) onto the sore to help restore the injured skin and reduce associated pain.
Sports & Braces
Sports-minded teens and adults can still enjoy their favorite sports and retain a straight, attractive smile. Sports and braces might seem like an unlikely combination but with the right orthodontic mouthguard, they don’t have to be. In addition to protecting the jaw, teeth, and gums, a mouthguard also offers protection for braces.
Mandatory Mouth Guards
Contact sports such as boxing, soccer, and football often require an orthodontic mouthguard to be worn. Even low-contact sports and casual play puts you at risk for injuries to the mouth, gums, and teeth. Contact with other players, as well as sports equipment like balls, bats and racquets can result in fractured tooth roots, chipped teeth, dental appliance damage, broken teeth, and other serious mouth injuries.
An Orthodontic Mouthguard Offers Protection for Braces
For the sports player wearing braces, damage of materials could require expensive treatment. Using the right mouth guard allows additional width and room for the braces as well as your gums and teeth. When in use, the mouth guard should be comfortable while still allowing you to breathe easily. Though there are mouthguards available to retail stores, those designed to accommodate braces aren’t able to be altered. Boil and bite mouth guards can be shaped to fit your mouth once the plastic is heated.
An orthodontic mouthguard is customized by your dentist to precisely fit your teeth, mouth and over-laying braces. Creating a custom-fit mouth guard means biting on a mold at the dentist’s office. This mold is then sent away to a dental appliance manufacturer who designs it to fit your mouth. The team coach should provide guidance concerning the type of mouthguard needed. In some instances, a dental appliance is only required for the upper teeth while other cases mandate one for the lower teeth as well.
How to Care for Mouth Guards
The proper care of the guard keeps fungi and bacteria at bay. Each time after taking them out, use a toothbrush to brush your mouth guard thoroughly with toothpaste. You can also use a solution that kills microbes or ask your dentist for their recommendations.