All About Braces

 

Does it Hurt to Have Braces?
The first thing you are going to notice when your braces are put on and each time they are adjusted is an achy feeling in your teeth, especially when you bite down.  Parts of the gum tissue in your mouth may be sore, but within 3 to 5 days the pain and soreness will go away.  Until it does, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever for relief.

As your braces and wires rub against the inside of your cheeks and lips, these areas may become irritated.  Commonly the insides of your cheeks and lips will toughen up over the first couple of weeks and you will become used to the sensation of having braces.  But until this happens, the tenderness can become quite painful.  We will supply you with wax to put on the areas that are causing an irritation.   When wax is applied to your appliances, they will feel smooth in contact with soft tissue inside your mouth.

 

Loosening of Teeth
During orthodontic treatment, teeth will become very loose and there is no need to worry.  The forces on your teeth cause them to loosen in order for them to be able to move in the direction the pressure is applied.  Once forces stop, at completion of treatment, your teeth will stop moving and the bone will firm up around their roots.  Wearing a retainer keeps your teeth in the final desired alignment and minimizes the everyday pressures of chewing, clenching, and tongue movements on your teeth.  If you grind your teeth, a bite splint (night guard) type of appliance may be prescribed as a retainer.

 

Foods to Avoid
Foods that can damage your braces include tough meats, hard breads, nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob and raw vegetables.  You will need to avoid sticky candy and other sticky foods that can be caught in your braces and be difficult to clean away.

We also recommend not to chew on hard objects like ice, pens, pencils and fingernails.  If your braces are damaged, it is possible that the total treatment time will be extended due to tooth movement being delayed.

 

Brushing and Flossing
When plaque and bacteria accumulate around teeth with braces, permanent damage can occur, including white scars and cavities.  Brushing your teeth within 20 minutes after each meal will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and gums clean of plaque and food particles.  Even though a traditional manual toothbrush can be used to clean your teeth, a power or electric toothbrush is highly recommended for any patients in orthodontic treatment.  A power toothbrush is more efficient and some models have a timer and pressure sensor in order to give active feedback during brushing.  Detailed instructions will be provided the day your braces are placed so that you will know the exact techniques to use to ensure proper oral hygiene.

Flossing is extremely important, even though braces and wires can make flossing significantly more time consuming.  The good news is that there is clinically proven research showing that a water flosser is significantly more effective for removing plaque than traditional string floss.  At your first appointment, we will instruct you in the best way to use a waterpik so that you don’t injure your braces.  For added protection against white spots and cavities, we also recommend using a prescription fluoride toothpaste called Clinpro 5000 and a fluoride mouth rinse called Phos-Flur.

It is also best to see your dentist and/or dental hygienist for professional cleanings every three months during orthodontic treatment.  If you are an adult with a history of gum or periodontal disease, we will recommend that you see a periodontist or gum specialist, during orthodontic treatment.

The following two videos demonstrate proper care of braces:

 

Mouth Guards with Braces
When your teeth are already loosened and under pressure, blows to the mouth are especially painful.  Also your brackets and wires can cause soft tissue injury to your lips and cheeks if you take a blow.  Please inform us about your participation in sports so we can fabricate a custom mouth guard for you that protects both your braces and your mouth.

Please note that, in Miami Florida, we see a lot of injuries to the mouth from boating accidents.  If you ride a jet ski or are a boater, we recommend wearing a mouth guard.  It is easy to slip and fall or hit your face when riding through wakes.  We can supply you with the best mouth guard to protect both your braces and your mouth.

 

Loose Brace or Wire
Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose, but do call our office to make an appointment for repair as soon as possible.  If a wire sticks out, it can be very irritating.  You might be successful in pushing the wire back into place or out of the way with a blunt instrument like the eraser end of a pencil but this is just a temporary measure until you come to the office for the actual repair.  Wax or wet cotton can be placed against the wire to protect the soft tissue of your lips and cheeks.

 

Rubber Bands or Elastics
Your treatment plan is unique to you and at some point in the treatment it is likely you will wear rubber bands.  The hooks for these bands will be custom placed and you will receive instructions to wear the rubber bands at all times, except when eating and cleaning your teeth.  You will need to wear the rubber bands and any other prescribed appliances as instructed in order for your teeth to move into their correct position on the planned schedule.  A lapse in wearing rubber bands will mean the your treatment time in braces may be extended.  We provide all instructions on the use of elastics during your appointments.

Invisalign vs Metal Braces
As one of the premiere Miami Invisalign specialists Dr. Derek Sanders often gets asked which is better – Invisalign or metal braces? Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer. We strongly suggest setting up a free one hour consultation so we can get a better understanding of your teeth and what will work best for you. We will be honest and up front about the pros and cons of both Invisalign and metal braces. Do not hesitate to give us a call today to set up your free one hour consultation.

While we encourage all of our patients to consider the best option for their current situation, it is important to remember that our team is located in Miami and our services do not travel. If you are in other states, you can search for an Invisalign specialist near you. We suggest Jason Gladwell as the Raleigh, NC Invisalign specialist. He is a Super Elite Invisalign Specialist who has worked very hard to hone his skills and offer some of the best treatments in the state of North Carolina.


About the Author: Derek Sanders is an Orthodontist at Orthodontics Only in Miami, FL. He has numerous publications and has lectured extensively on topics including braces and Invisalign. Dr. Sanders teaches at the University of Miami and is on the Craniofacial Team at Miami Children's Hospital. He has a blog and can also be found on Google+. See more articles by Derek Sanders.

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