Caring for Your Braces
Your braces are going to give you a gorgeous smile and improve your life by increasing your confidence, making you healthier and letting you laugh, grin and chew with ease. However, before you get there, you will have to make a few adjustments as you go through treatment. Here are some guidelines for living life with braces and if you have any questions, contact our Houston or Bellaire orthodontic office and we’ll be happy to help!
Brushing and Flossing With Braces
When you’re wearing braces, brushing and flossing can be slightly more challenging at first. Don’t let this intimidate you. We’ll show you exactly what to do when we put your braces on and once you learn the correct technique, it’ll become second nature.
You’ll want to brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and before bed for at least three minutes each time to keep your smile looking bright. Purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush, which will give you more control than an electric toothbrush. With the brush tilted at a 45-degree angle, use moderate pressure as you brush along the top and bottom of your braces. Be sure to cover every surface and get the teeth all the way in the back, as well as behind your molars.
Floss your teeth at least once per day. To floss with braces, thread the floss underneath the archwire. You can do this on your own or, if you need a little help, you can use a floss threader. Once you have the floss threaded, carefully floss around each tooth, all the way up to the gum line.
Eating With Braces
For a lot of people, the biggest change in their life with braces is their diet but any minor sacrifices will be well worth it! When you first get your braces put on and after adjustments, your teeth and gums might feel tender, so you’ll want to stick to soft, easily mashed foods and cold drinks for the first few days. Think pancakes, oatmeal, soup and smoothies. Stay away from hard, crunchy, sticky or tough foods.
Foods to Avoid
During your braces treatment, there are foods you’ll have to avoid. It might be a bummer but keep your eye on the prize! You’re only in treatment for a short time and you don’t want to do anything that will compromise the incredible results you’ll see when you’re finished. Here’s what you shouldn’t eat with braces:
- Hard Foods: Anything really hard, difficult to bite into or that requires you “tear” at it with your teeth is off limits. This includes pizza crust, nuts, chips, raw, whole apples or carrots and corn on the cob (off the cob is perfectly fine).
- Tough Meats: Avoid meats that are hard to chew or not fork tender, such as tough cuts of steak, beef jerky and some sausages.
- Sticky Foods: These foods are usually of the sweet variety. They can result in broken brackets and wires and they may get trapped in your braces. Steer clear of licorice, gum, caramels and candy like Starburst or Sour Patch Kids.
Food to Eat With Braces
You might feel like we just took away a bunch of your favorite foods and you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can actually eat. There absolutely is! Here are some of the best foods for braces-wearers:
- Dairy-based foods like soft cheeses, yogurt and ice cream
- Soft breads, including sandwich breads, tortillas, pancakes
- Grains and pasta, such as rice, noodles, couscous and quinoa
- Cold beverages like water, smoothies and milkshakes
- Steamed or soft-cooked veggies
- Soft, fork-tender meats
- Peanut butter
- Applesauce and fruit cups
- Ripe fruits, such as bananas
- Tuna, chicken and egg salad
- Soft-cooked fish or fish sticks
Wearing braces doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines. You can continue to play sports with braces. However, to keep your mouth and appliance safe, you’ll need to wear a mouthguard. A mouthguard is designed to protect your teeth from injury, whether it’s physical contact with another player or being hit by an object. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends wearing a mouthguard no matter what sport you play.
Types of Mouthguards
A mouthguard is most effective when it’s high quality and fits perfectly. There are three main types: pre-made, boil-and-bite and custom-made mouthguards. No matter which option you choose, make sure it meets the following criteria:
- Tear resistant
- Fitted to your dental anatomy
- Easy to clean
- Doesn’t restrict proper breathing
Pre-made and boil-and-bite mouthguards can be purchased at sporting goods stores, while a custom mouthguard is only available through your orthodontist. A custom mouthguard is always the best option in terms of quality but it’s especially important when you’re wearing braces. You’ll get the ideal fit and superior protection.
Taking Care of Your Mouthguard
Whenever you’re not wearing your mouthguard, be sure to put it in its case. This will prevent you from losing it and also keep pets from chewing on it or playing with it (yes, pets love mouthguards!). After using your mouthguard, scrub it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste before storing it.
Never leave your mouthguard in hot places like the car or in direct sunlight. Also, don’t chew on it, alter it any way or wear it at the same time as you’re wearing your retainer. It’s recommended you replace your mouthguard at the start of every sports’ season.
Bring your mouthguard with you to each check-up. We’ll take a look at its condition and ensure it’s in good shape to give you the best smile protection.