All About Braces

Life With Braces

Living with braces requires some important adjustments to your oral care and daily eating habits. You will need to take special care when cleaning your teeth during braces treatment, and there are a number of foods you will need to avoid to protect your braces and teeth from damage during the course of treatment. Here are some helpful tips for making the most of your new life with braces.

Oral Hygiene

Making a point to take special care of your teeth while you have braces is extremely important to prevent cavities and damage to the braces appliance. Braces, wires, bands, and retainers can all trap food particles and make brushing and flossing more difficult. Careful brushing and flossing after every meal and snack is the best way to prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay, and gum diseases.

Good brushing is the foundation of everyday oral care. Brush your teeth in slow, circular, vibrating motions, holding the brush at a straight angle. Brush each bracket carefully to dislodge as many food particles as possible. You also need to floss at least once a day. With braces, flossing can be challenging. We recommend using a floss threader to help pull the floss under the arch-wire.

Tools of the Trade

An inter-dental toothbrush, or Proxabrush, is also a handy tool for cleaning hard to brush places between the wires. These brushes have small, cone-shaped tips to easily fit between wires, and can better clean underneath and around wires and braces. This brush can help maintain healthy teeth and gums during treatment. Remember to brush gently to avoid damaging the wires.

After brushing and flossing, rinse with water and/or an antiseptic dental rinse to clear out debris and kill bacteria on teeth and gums. You can also apply a topical fluoride before bedtime to help kill bacteria and replace minerals in tooth enamel. Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay. This must remain on your teeth for 30 minutes and can be applied at night before bed.

Foods to Avoid

The most notorious part of the braces treatment is the list of foods that you need to avoid. While there are a number of foods to avoid eating, you can still eat a lot of foods you love–you just have to take extra care in preparation and when cleaning your teeth. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can damage wires and brackets; sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires; and sugary foods cause tooth decay and other problems.

Make sure to also avoid chewing on fingernails, pens, pencils, and other foreign objects. Also, regularly inspect your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. If you notice any damage to your braces, call our office immediately for an appointment for repair.

Hard Foods to Avoid:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard bread crust
  • Corn on the cob
  • Carrots & apples (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Chips
  • Hard candy
  • Hard taco shells

Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Toffee
  • Tootsie rolls
  • Skittles
  • Starbursts
  • Caramels

Minimize Eating Foods Like:

  • Cake
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Any candy

Consume Only Once a Day:

  • Gatorade
  • Kool-aid
  • Soda
  • Any other sugary drink

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for 3 – 5 days. Take Tylenol or whatever you normally take for headache or discomfort. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the braces. We will supply wax to put on the braces in irritated areas to lessen discomfort.

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can move. The teeth will firm up in their new — corrected — positions after treatment is completed.

Loose Wire or Band

Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire sticks out and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire back under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation of the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the problem.

Rubber Band Wear

To successfully complete orthodontic treatment, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands or other appliances as prescribed. Lack of cooperation following instructions and damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time… so please … follow instructions.


If you play sports, it’s important you let us know. A protective mouthguard is provided for playing contact sports.