Every orthodontic patient will experience a period of adjustment when his or her appliances are initially placed. The first few days of wearing braces are typically the most challenging. During this time you may feel a general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressure for a few days. Depending on the type of braces you have been given, it may also take a week or two for the lips, cheek, and tongue to get accustom to the presence of the appliances. It is important that you keep in mind that these sensations will pass.
To help you cope with this initial short-term discomfort our office will recommend a number of remedies and tips. These techniques can also be utilized during any brief “achy” episodes that may follow future adjustment visits. If you are wearing conventional braces, a supply of orthodontic wax and instructions as to how to apply it to a wire or a brace that has become irritating will be provided.
During the time that you are wearing braces it is very important to be careful about what you are eating as well as more diligent in keeping your teeth and orthodontic appliances very clean. Eating certain foods (especially hard, sticky, crunchy, or tough foods) and certain oral habits (like chewing ice, biting pens, or nail biting) can be very damaging to braces. Risky oral behaviors can lead to frequent breakage of orthodontic appliances, which may significantly prolong your treatment time and compromise your treatment outcome.
Although, there may be some foods to avoid during treatment, there are still many delicious and satisfying things that you can eat. It is important to remember the key to good health is maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet.
Keeping your teeth, gums, and orthodontic appliances clean over the course of care is of the utmost importance. Food and plaque are easily trapped in the tiny spaces between your braces as well as underneath your removable appliances or aligners. In the absence of good oral hygiene you are at an increased risk of developing dental decay, areas of decalcification or stains on your teeth. Furthermore, your gums can become irritated and inflamed and you may even develop a dental infection.
Brushing after every meal, and flossing at least once a day, is the best way to insure that your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment. It is also recommended that you brush your teeth after eating snacks. However, if you don’t have a toothbrush on hand at this time, you can occasionally clean your mouth by rinsing vigorously with water. You may also consider adding other useful items like a floss threader, a small interdental toothbrush (proxabrush), or an oral irrigator (water pick) to your dental care toolkit to assist you in keeping your appliances, as well as all of the small spaces around your braces, clean.
Make sure to see your general dentist regularly for routine care and to have a thorough dental cleaning.
Preserving and stabilizing the result of your orthodontic treatment is known as “retention” and the appliances used for this purpose are called “retainers”. Almost every individual who has undergone orthodontic care will need to wear some type of a retainer.
There are two major kinds of orthodontic retainers. A removable retainer is one that can be taken in and out of the mouth, while a permanent retainer is fixed or bonded to the back of the teeth. Before removing your braces our orthodontist will explain which of the available retainer options you will need to maintain your smile.
Removable retainers come in two forms. A Hawley retainer is the most traditional orthodontic retainer. It is typically an acrylic based appliance with a single wire that sits in front of the teeth to maintain the corrections along with some small clasps to stabilize it in the mouth. The other type of removable retainer is a vacuform “invisible” retainer, which is called an Essix retainer. This retainer looks similar to a clear custom bleaching tray or dental aligner. It is made of a thin transparent plastic that is fabricated to precisely fit over the teeth and prevent any unwanted shifting. While a Hawley retainer has the advantages of being quite durable and easy to adjust, an Essix retainer is less visible and can be easier to adapt to wearing.
In some cases a fixed retainer may be recommended to maintain a corrected smile. A fixed retainer is a special thin wire that is bonded to the back of the front teeth. It remains in place all of the time and does not show at all when you smile. This type of retainer is a good option when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position, especially the lower front teeth. A fixed retainer provides excellent stability, but requires extra care to keep the teeth and gums around the appliance clean.
At the time your retainers are inserted, we will provide you with detailed guidelines for wearing these appliances as well as directions as to how to clean and care for them.
Taking care to protect your braces from damage and your mouth from injury is extremely important. Wearing a mouthguard while participating in sports is a good way to safeguard your appliances as well as your smile. It is important that you wear a mouthguard that has been specifically designed to fit over your braces. Our office can guide you in selecting the most suitable one.
At the start of your orthodontic care, our office will review with you how to handle most cases of broken or loose braces, as well as irritations due to your appliances. While some situations can be adequately managed until your next scheduled visit, others will require immediate professional attention. Keep in mind that loose and damaged orthodontic appliances are often the result of eating the wrong foods or harmful oral habits such as biting your nails or chewing on ice, pencils, and pens. However, there are occasions when even with normal usage and good care a brace will break, a protruding wire can become irritating, or elastic accessories will dislodge.
Common orthodontic emergencies may include:
Although all of the above situations can be uncomfortable and upsetting, other problems can develop that fall into the category of serious health emergencies. If you start to experience severe pain, develop significant swelling, or have sustained an injury to the teeth, the mouth, or jaws, it is essential to get prompt medical and dental attention. Once the extent of your injury or infection has been determined, it can be treated accordingly. As your orthodontist, we will work with your medical and dental team to adjust, remove, or replace your appliances as needed.Go Back