February is the month of love, hearts and, of course, Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’re planning to show your significant other, friends and family how much you love them in honor of the occasion. What about your braces? After all, they will be responsible for giving you a confident, beautiful smile that can last a lifetime. Plus, when you have braces on your teeth, your smile requires a little more TLC. Davis Orthodontics has you covered with our guide on how to have success with braces and establish a great relationship with your hardware!
1. Learn the Ins and Outs of Brushing and Flossing With Braces
Brackets and wires trap food and plaque, which can put you at risk for tooth decay, gum disease and staining if you don’t keep your mouth healthy and clean. When it comes to brushing with braces, be sure to brush in the morning, after meals and snacks and before bed. Floss at least once daily. To brush, squeeze a dollop of non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush – preferably an electric one – and then place it at a 45-degree angle to your gum line and brush in a circular motion. Make sure you get the outer, inner and chewing surfaces of the teeth and give each tooth individual attention. Brush for two minutes per session.
Flossing with braces can seem tricky at first but it’s really a key to braces success. Using a piece of waxed dental floss about 18 inches long, thread the end of the floss between your braces and wire. You might want to use a floss threader to make it easier. First, floss around your brackets. Then, move the floss in between any two teeth and floss around the gum area and up and down the side of one tooth and then up and down the side of the other tooth before moving on to the next pair of pearly whites. Top off your oral hygiene routine with an alcohol-free, fluoride mouthwash.
2. Consider a Few Extras Tools for Braces Success
Though they’re not mandatory, there are some extra tools that can help set you up for braces success and keep your mouth sparkling clean. A water flosser, or Waterpik, is amazing for giving you a super clean feeling, addressing your gums and dislodging food in hard-to-reach places. You’ll still have to floss once a day but a lot of our patients like the oral health boost it gives them. An interproximal brush, sometimes called an interdental brush or a proxy brush, is another handy tool to have. The tiny brush fits into small spaces and is particularly helpful for cleaning around your brackets. Lastly, orthodontic flossers can eliminate some of the learning curve that comes with flossing with braces. These flossers are made specifically for braces patients and are easy to maneuver.
3. Create a Braces Travel Kit
Putting together a travel kit is one of our best braces tips because it ensures you’re prepared for anything and everything and you can keep your mouth and braces clean even when you’re on the go. Pack a toiletry bag with a small mirror, a travel toothbrush, dental floss or orthodontic flossers, an interproximal brush, travel mouthwash if you’d like and orthodontic relief wax. Leave the kit in your school or work bag or your car so that you always have it on hand. After eating or if you just need to freshen up, head to the bathroom and brush and floss. If you forget your travel kit, make sure to rinse your mouth out really well after a meal and brush as soon as you get home.
4. Become a Pro at Handling Sensitivity and Irritation
You should never feel true braces pain but you will have some aching and sensitivity when you first get your braces put on and after adjustments. This can be easily managed by sticking with soft foods and cold drinks until any discomfort subsides. If necessary, you can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol. Another of the really helpful braces tips is to actually take the Tylenol before your bonding appointment (the visit where you get you braces put on) or adjustments so that by the time any sensitivity kicks in, it’s already working.If your brackets and wires are rubbing against your cheeks and lips and causing irritation, make a saltwater rinse using ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water. Swish it around in your mouth as often as needed. You can also dry off the offending bracket or wire with a clean piece of cotton or a tissue. Then, break off a piece of orthodontic wax and warm it up between your fingers before placing it on the part of the appliance that’s bothering you. This will act as a buffer, though your mouth will toughen up on its own within a week or two and any irritation will go away.
5. Keep Up With Visits to Your General Dentist
While an orthodontist like Dr. Buddy and a dentist both went to dental school and are both concerned with your oral health, they focus on different areas. Your orthodontist is trained in preventing, diagnosing and treating malocclusion, or issues with your bite, while a dentist looks at the broader picture and is concerned with your overall, general oral health. They’re the doctor you go to for cleanings or to have cavities filled. It’s essential to continue to see your general dentist throughout your orthodontic treatment for exams and cleanings. This will help keep your mouth healthy and cavity-free. We generally recommend visiting your dentist every six months unless they tell you that they’d like to see you more or less often.
6. Know What Foods to Avoid With Braces
We’ll let you know what foods not to eat with braces when you get them put on. You’ll have to stay away from really hard, chewy or sticky foods that can damage your appliance, such as popcorn, nuts, hard candy, caramel, licorice and hard bagels. You also shouldn’t bite directly into things like whole, raw apples and carrots or corn on the cob. However, you can cut apples and carrots into bite-sized pieces and take corn off the cob. By opting for braces-friendly food instead, you can prevent having to come in for repair appointments.
7. Wear a Mouthguard
Orofacial and dental injuries during sports are extremely common. Mouthguards are really only required for ice hockey, field hockey, football, boxing, lacrosse and wrestling (if the wrestler has braces) even though any contact sport carries a risk and basketball and baseball actually have high rates of dental injury. When you have braces, it adds another layer because the brackets and wires can cause cuts to the inside of your cheeks, lips and tongue, accidentally hurt your opponent in the case of a collision and result in a damaged appliance. It’s so important to wear a mouthguard if you have braces when doing any activity where you could get hit in the face or fall and sustain a blow to the mouth. It’s the simplest way for athletes to protect their smile and it can potentially save a ton of time, money and stress.
8. Stay Focused on the End Result
While the braces we use at Davis Orthodontics are modern, comfortable and efficient, there’s always an adjustment period when you first begin the process. Keep your eye on the prize and think about all of the benefits you’ll have when your treatment is complete. You might even want to look at braces before and after pictures if you need some extra motivation. Once you get used to having braces, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them.
Those are our tips on how to have success with braces. If you haven’t started braces treatment yet and you’re ready to get a smile you love, schedule a free consultation with our Simpsonville and Greer orthodontist Dr. Buddy Davis today!