Life with Braces

“What’s it like having braces?” It’s one of the questions that our patients hear from friends and family the most often—and something we’re asked a lot, too. It’s true that getting used to having braces at first can be a unique experience, and one that does require a certain amount of attention in terms of what and how you go about your regular day.

We like to let our patients know that the success with braces requires a partnership between you and us as your orthodontic team. Our job is to provide the expertise and ongoing supervision, while you are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of your braces and teeth. Your work during treatment makes all the difference. So let’s talk about a few things you’ll want to know about from the get-go:

Eating with Braces

Having braces does mean you’ll need to make a few changes in what you eat and how you eat it. Sticky and hard foods can cause damage to your appliance as well as tooth and mouth pain.

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 w/o 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 w/o nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Here are some tips:

  • Avoid foods with excess sugar. Sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, which may cause more plaque and possibly cavities.
  • Cut food into manageable pieces; for instance, you can eat most kinds of meat, but just take smaller bites
  • Your teeth may be a little more tender in the day or two following an appointment; foods such as soup, mashed potatoes, rice and other warm, soft foods are generally easier to eat. Shakes and smoothies are also recommended.

How to Brush and Floss with Braces

When you get your braces on, we take the time to show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth. Some additional tips include:

  • Brush your teeth at least three times a day with fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities and to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean.
  • Floss at least once a day to get in between your braces where your toothbrush can’t If you need more flossers or are interested in the benefits of a high-quality water flosser, we carry both in our offices.
  • During treatment, continue to schedule routine cleanings and checkups with your regular dentist every six months.

Dealing with Braces Tenderness or Soreness

Your teeth and mouth may feel a little sore or tender after you get your braces on, or after an adjustment. This is a normal experience, and we assure you that the discomfort will go away within a few days.

There are several easy ways to reduce the tenderness you may be experiencing.  Try  dissolving a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water, then swishing the solution in your mouth for a few minutes, being careful not to swallow.   Sipping ice water through a straw can also bring relief as it can help to reduce swelling. If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you may also try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, paying close attention to dosage instructions.  We also offer products in our office to help reduce discomfort and would be happy to talk with you about them.

Irritation of your lips, cheeks, and tongue can also occur as you get used to having braces.  Wax placed on the brackets and wires can help reduce rubbing.   You’ll receive wax during in your welcome kit when you get your braces, and you can always ask one of our team members for more if you find it is effective for you.

Loose Teeth

Loose teeth are a part of having braces; after all, this process is designed to move your teeth into the right position.  It may feel a little odd at first, but you’ll grow accustomed to it.  Eventually, once your teeth are in the correct position in your mouth, they will no longer be loose.

Loose Wires and Brackets

From time to time, you may experience a loose or bent wire, or have a problem with your bracket. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so we can address any potential problem. 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.

If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you so we can reattach it.

Hobbies & Activities With Braces

Wearing braces will not stop you from participating in activities like sports, music, or other things you enjoy.

If you play a contact sport, we strongly recommend that you always wear a mouth guard designed to protect your teeth and your braces. The Olsen Ortho team will be happy to help you find the right mouth guard for the best protection.