Once you start treatment, you might be wondering, "What's next?" It is important to maintain healthy gums and teeth throughout treatment to help with the overall success and final result. Here is what you need to know in order to properly take care of your teeth, while in treatment with either braces or clear aligners.
Braces: The Basics
During treatment with braces, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage or break your new appliances.
Foods to Avoid:
- 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 without 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 without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
You will also need to avoid chewing on hard plastics such as pens or water bottle caps. If you have any questions about what foods are appropriate to eat with braces, be sure to ask anyone on the Clark Orthodontics team.
Loose Wires and Bands
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose, especially if you bite into something too hard or chewy. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance.
If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to make it more comfortable until we can see you in the office to address it.
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your brackets and wires.
Clear Aligners: The Basics
Besides the esthetic advantage of clear aligners, one of the other benefits is not needing to modify what you eat. Aligners are taken out to eat, so you can eat all of the hard, crunchy, and chewy food that you'd like! The most important things with clear aligners is wearing them as prescribed (22 hr/day) and always being sure to brush and floss after meals, before putting the aligners back in your mouth.
Orthodontic Treatment: The Basics
Whether we're moving teeth with brackets and wires or clear aligners, there are some things that are common to both treatment types, which are important for you to know before you start treatment:
When you first start treatment, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve any discomfort, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).
If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you may also take a pain reliever - whatever you normally take for a headache. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they become used to the braces or aligners. Placing wax over the area causing the irritation can help, which will be provided to you a the start of your treatment, and we can provide you with more wax if you run out.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal! The braces and aligners must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.
Importance of Good Hygiene
It is extremely important to maintain good hygiene throughout treatment, whether in treatment with braces or clear aligners. Having poor hygiene during treatment can lead to permanent staining of the teeth and sometimes irreversible tissue damage and cavities. We will evaluate your brushing at every appointment and make recommendations accordinlgly, as well as provide tools to help you clean better around the appliances. If you have any questions on how best to keep your teeth clean during treatment, please don't hesitate to ask!