At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we’re all about using the most up-to-date, high-tech treatment options to ensure your experience in braces or Invisalign® is as quick, effective and painless as possible. While we’ll help you breeze right through treatment and soon you’ll forget you’re even wearing braces, there is an adjustment period. As one of the leading providers of braces in Houston and Bellaire, we’ve got you covered with all of the details you need to know to get acclimated to your new hardware. Here are our tips for your first week with braces.
- Get a Head Start on First Day Braces Discomfort
Patients often ask, do braces hurt? The answer is, no, they do not. While you may experience some minor discomfort, you won’t feel any actual braces pain. The sensitivity is mild and goes away in a few days. You can get a jump on this by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever right before your bonding appointment or prior to adjustments. This way, it will kick in by the time any sensitivity begins.
- Stock Up on Braces-Friendly Food and Drinks
We’ll fill you in on what to eat with braces the first week and beyond at your consultation. Your first day with braces or even your first several days, your teeth will be sensitive as we said, so sticking with soft foods and cold drinks is your best bet. Things like mashed potatoes, smoothies, applesauce, soup, pudding, yogurt, ice cream and ice water are great options. Cold beverages have the added bonus of numbing your mouth.
Once you are acclimated to your braces, you can go back to eating most of the foods you love. However, you will want to avoid really hard, sticky or chewy foods like caramel, toffee, popcorn, hard bagels, tough meats, nuts and pizza crust or anything that can damage your braces. You also shouldn’t bite or tear directly into foods like raw apples and carrots or corn on the cob. Instead, strip corn off the cob and cut foods into small, bite-sized pieces and chew with your back teeth.
Once you’re back into the swing of eating your normal fare, here are some of the best foods we typically recommend to our Houston, TX braces patients:
o Soft breads such as sandwich breads, pancakes and tortillas
o Soft cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy
o Pasta and grains, including quinoa, rice, couscous, barley and noodles
o Steamed veggies
o Fork-tender meats
o Peanut butter
o Stew and soup
o Fruit cups
o Ripe fruits
o Fish sticks or soft-cooked fish
o Egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad
o Cold drinks such as smoothies, milkshakes and ice water
- Embrace Salt Water Rinses and Orthodontic Relief Wax
During your first week with braces, you may experience some irritation on the inside of your lips and cheeks. Your mouth will toughen up and after a while, your brackets and wires won’t bother you anymore. During the acclimation period, you can relieve the irritation with a salt water rinse. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out. You can repeat this several times during the day as needed. If that doesn’t help, you can also warm up a small piece of orthodontic wax between your fingers and place it on the areas of your braces that are bothering you.
- Become a Pro at Brushing and Flossing with Braces
One of the things that will feel the strangest during your first week with braces is brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires. Just as with everything else, we promise you will quickly get used to it. We’ll show you how to brush and floss correctly but here are some basic tips for braces wearers:
o Brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks and before bed for at least three minutes each session using a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste. If you’re out and about and you forget to bring your toothbrush, simply rinse your mouth out well before eating and then brush as soon as you get home.
o Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and moderate pressure, tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle and brush along the top and bottom of your brackets. Be sure to give your gum line plenty of attention too. Get all of the surfaces of each and every tooth and behind your molars.
o Floss once daily. You may find an orthodontic flosser or a floss threader makes the process a whole lot easier, especially during those first days with braces. Get in between any set of teeth and floss up and down the side of each tooth all the way up to your gums before moving on to the next set of teeth.
o Tools like interproximal brushes can be helpful for brushing around your brackets and under the wires and getting any hard-to-reach places. A waterpik can also be a great tool for reaching into the nooks and crannies and leaving your teeth feeling sparkling clean. You’ll still have to use regular floss along with the waterpik but some of our Houston, TX braces patients really love the tool.
- Don’t Panic if Your Teeth Feel Loose
A little known fact about braces is that your teeth can feel loose during treatment. We know this can cause patients to panic! Don’t worry though; your teeth won’t fall out. It’s actually completely normal. The teeth have to loosen in order to move into their new positions. When your treatment is over, they’ll lock into place.
- Learn How to Handle Braces Emergencies
First, we have to say, a true braces emergency is extremely rare. However there can be some minor discomforts and mishaps. Knowing how to handle them at home can help you feel more confident during those first days in braces and throughout your entire treatment. Here are a few common ones:
o Soreness – As we mentioned earlier, your teeth can feel sore after you first get your braces on and following adjustments. Again, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks will work wonders. You can also use a saltwater rinse or an over-the-counter pain reliever if you’re still uncomfortable.
o Broken or Loose Braces Bracket – If your braces bracket is still attached to the wire, don’t take it off. Gently push it back to its correct place and then cover it with a small piece of orthodontic wax. If the bracket breaks and comes off of your wire, wrap a piece of tissue around it and take it out of your mouth. Be sure to give our office a call so we can schedule you for an appointment to fix it.
o Poking Wire – Before you leave your bonding appointment, we’ll make sure no wires are poking you. However, sometimes when a bracket is loose or breaks, you can be left with a long piece of wire that pokes into your cheek. If that’s the case, gently use the eraser end of a pencil or a clean cotton swab to push it out of the way and against the nearest tooth. Dry it off with some tissue and then cover it in orthodontic wax before giving us a call.
- Don’t Forget Your Mouthguard
If you are an athlete, wearing a mouthguard is essential when you’re playing sports or doing any physical activity with a risk of injury to the face. It should be part of your routine all of the time but it’s especially important when you’re wearing braces. It will act as a barrier between your braces and the soft tissues of the mouth, preventing lacerations and irritation if you get hit in the face. It will also prevent damage to your braces and reduce the likelihood of losing or damaging your teeth, which can set your treatment back. A custom mouthguard will give you the best fit and superior protection and we can provide you with one at Houston Orthodontic Specialists.
- Focus on Those End Results!
On your first day with braces, your appliance will feel a little weird. After all, your tongue and lips aren’t used to sharing space with brackets and wires. You may also feel as if you look different or like your braces are sticking out. We promise, you’ll acclimate to your braces quickly and you’ll barely notice them after a while. If you feel discouraged, focus on the end result and think about how amazing your smile will look when you’re done.
Now that you know what to expect, if you’re interested in braces in Houston or Bellaire, book a consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! We offer a variety of braces options, including conventional metal and clear braces, self-ligating metal and clear braces and lingual braces. We’re also a Diamond Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen provider. We’ll help you decide on the best option for your needs so you can get a healthy, beautiful smile you love.