Getting braces is important for the health of your teeth, and for your confidence too. An aligned smile is more attractive, and it also lets your teeth and jaws line up so they can chew your food optimally with the least amount of stress.
At Grace Dental Group, Woo Young Lee, DDS, and our team in San Francisco, California, help you or your child flash the smile of your dreams with orthodontics, including braces. As with all changes, getting braces comes with a few challenges.
Here’s what you need to know about adjusting to life with braces.
Eat soft foods after an adjustment
Your orthodontics move your teeth out of their natural position into one that’s better aligned and healthier too. However, the orthodontics place a lot of stress on your teeth in accomplishing that feat.
You may notice that when you first get your braces — and after each periodic adjustment — your teeth feel sore and tender. Make this time easier on yourself by choosing foods that are well-cooked or soft, so you don’t have to bite down or chew vigorously. Options include:
- Hot cereals
- Cooked vegetables
- Soft, well-cooked meats
After a few days, you should be able to return to normal eating. However, you should still avoid foods that are sticky and could get stuck in your braces, such as caramels.
You might also want to avoid foods that require you to bite into them, such as corn on the cob, apples, and chewy bagels, as these can get caught in your braces.
Don’t chew gum
The constant chewing may tire out your teeth, and the gum could also get caught in your braces. Many types of gum also have sugar, which could cause cavities, especially if it gets caught in your bracket or wires.
Get some dental wax
Over time, the soft tissues in your mouth adjust to the presence of your braces. But there’s no need to suffer while you build up tolerance.
Even acrylic braces may rub against your inner cheeks and tongue, causing discomfort and sores. If you notice areas where your mouth seems extra sensitive to your brackets or wires, purchase dental wax at the pharmacy. Simply knead the wax in your fingers until it’s warm, and then mold it to cover the offending bracket or wire.
Rinse with saltwater
If you do suffer an abrasion from a stray wire or sharp bracket, rinse your mouth with salt water to keep the sore clean and reduce the pain. If you think one of your wires has broken or is in the wrong position, contact us for an adjustment.
Carry a toothbrush
Whether you have metal braces or acrylic braces, you may notice that food tends to get caught in the brackets and wires. Food particles that aren’t brushed or washed away feed the bacteria in your mouth and increase your risk for cavities.
After eating or drinking anything — including a snack — take time to rinse your teeth with water. Better yet, carry a toothbrush with you wherever you go. Even if you don’t have time to brush your teeth with toothpaste, running a brush over your braces can loosen food particles so they’re more easily rinsed away.
Take care of your teeth
More than ever, too, it’s important to maintain (or start!) good oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush for at least two minutes at a time, at least twice a day. You won’t be able to floss your teeth with braces, but you could use a pressurized water pick. Some of these appliances even come with applicators that are meant to clean braces.
Be sure to keep all of your orthodontic appointments so we can track the progress of your realignment and make any necessary adjustments.
You also need to get your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year, just as you did before your braces. During your biannual cleanings and exams, we check for cavities and other issues.
If you’re ready for a better, healthier smile with braces, contact us today for an orthodontics appointment and evaluation.