Brushing & Flossing
Now that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, the most important thing is keeping your mouth clean and healthy. We provide all of our patients with the tools and information they need to keep their teeth and gums nice and clean.
Intraoral appliances can trap food particles and make it more difficult to brush or floss away. Plaque is the build up of bacteria, food and saliva that when allowed to remain around the appliances can cause cavities and gum disease. Proper oral hygiene can help fight this plaque build up. When teeth and gums are kept clean they remain healthy and healthy teeth move through healthy gums and bone more efficiently than when the area are affected by plaque and decay.
Oral hygiene tips include:
- Brush for 2 minutes twice a day
- Toothpaste containing flouride
- Soft bristled brush
- Floss once a day with ortho flossers
- If you do not remove plaque adequately, your gums may become swollen and bleed. Bleeding is the first sign of gum infection, gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Remember that you braces are an investment in your future smile, so treat them nicely. Avoid extremely hard foods (such as nuts, ice, hard candies, etc) as they can break or damage brackets and wires. While an occasional broken bracket is not a problem, repeated breaks can delay your treatment progression. You also should avoid sticky foods (taffy, toffee, caramels, etc) which are usually high in sugar and extremely hard to clean from the appliances. Sugar free gum is perfectly fine to have while undergoing orthodontic treatment! There are also lots of great foods that you are able to eat during treatment including cheeses, pizza, pastas, chicken, vegetables, fruits, ice creams, etc.
Some tips include:
- Avoid hard foods like nuts, partially popped kernels of popcorn, etc
- Avoid sticky foods like caramels, toffee and taffy
- Chew only sugar free gum
- Avoid nail biting, or chewing on pens and pencils
- Take smaller bites of food and chew softly
- Slice hard fruits vegetables, like apples and carrots, into wedges or thin strips and chew on your back teeth
- Avoid biting into hard foods with your front or side teeth
- Avoid “ripping” into bagels, pizza crusts and hoagies
Luckily with orthodontics, there are very few true orthodontic emergencies, and most problems can be remedied at home. If there is a problem that you are unable to resolve, please call us as soon as possible so that we can fit you in for a repair appointment right away. We like to be informed of any problems you are having so that we can double check to make sure there is enough time scheduled during your appointment to address all of your concerns.
If your teeth are sore after a visit, this is normal and should be no more painful than a headache. This temporary discomfort usually arises when a new wire is placed and your teeth begin to feel this force on them. It should gradually subside within a few days. You can take acetaminophen (tylenol) or ibuprophen (advil) to help with the discomfort as you adjust to your new braces.
In the beginning, your lips and cheeks will need some time to get used to the brackets and may feel a little sore. Please use the wax provided to aid in any discomfort you are feeling. If any part of the wire feels as if it is poking you, place wax over the area to act as a buffer.
Make sure to regularly check your appliances to see if anything is broken or loose. If any part of your appliance is broken or falls out, please bring it with you to your next appointment as often times we are able to make repairs and get you on your way quickly. Remember that brackets and appliances only function when they are attached to the teeth, so multiple breakages are a sure way to extend treatment time.
When your braces are removed, we will begin the retention phase of your treatment. By now you have put in a lot of hard work to get that fantastic smile, so make sure to follow through and wear your retainers as instructed to keep your teeth in line! Retainers are normally worn full time for 3-6 months as the gingival tissues and muscles adapt to the new tooth positions. After this, retainer wear is decreased to night time (for lifetime!). Our teeth are constantly moving and as long as we want to keep them straight, we have to wear the retainers. Teeth have a tendency to shift back to their original positions as they age and this is called relapse. Most of the time, the more severe the original bite, the greater the odds for relapse after treatment, but all teeth have a maturational shifting that often leads to crowding in the lower incisor region as we get older.
The types of retainers you have may vary according to your specific treatment needs. There are clear and colored retainers and both removable and fixed ones. We will help you decide on the best retainers for you as you go through treatment.
Guidelines for retainer wear and care:
- Remove your retainer for eating
- Store your retainers when they are not in your in their case
- Keep retainer away from pets – they will eat them!
- Brush your retainers at least one a day with a toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste. Never use boiling or very hot water as it can warp or melt retainers
- To assist with cleaning you can use denture tablets and soak the retainers for 10 minutes
Broken retainers can sometimes be repaired depending on the level of damage. The patient needs to be present when the retainer is brought to the office for repair. We check the fit of the retainer in the mouth before it is sent to the lab. There is a repair fee charged by the lab.
If retainers are lost or damaged beyond repair they need to be replaced. Replacement retainers must be paid for by the patient. The patient will come to the office to have a new 3D digital scan taken and the scan is sent to the lab. The retainers are delivered within a few days.