What Are the Rules for Braces?
If you have recently started orthodontic treatment with braces, you may be wondering what rules you need to follow to ensure the best possible outcome. Braces are an investment in your oral health and well-being, and by taking care of them properly, you can help ensure a successful outcome and a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come. In this article, we will cover the essential rules for braces, from what foods to avoid to how to clean your braces properly.
Table of Contents
- Foods to Avoid with Braces
- Brushing and Flossing with Braces
- Wearing Retainers After Braces
- Visiting Your Orthodontist
- Common Problems with Braces
- Resources for Further Reading
Foods to Avoid with Braces
When you have braces, certain foods can damage or dislodge your brackets and wires, which can prolong your treatment and even cause pain or discomfort. Avoid the following foods to help protect your braces:
- Sticky or chewy foods, such as caramel, taffy, or gum
- Hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, or hard candies
- Corn on the cob, whole apples, and other foods that require biting into with your front teeth
- Sugary or acidic foods and drinks, which can increase your risk of tooth decay and damage your braces
Instead, opt for soft, easy-to-chew foods that won't damage your braces or require excessive biting or chewing. Cut foods into small, bite-sized pieces and avoid biting directly into them with your front teeth.
Brushing and Flossing with Braces
Proper oral hygiene is essential when you have braces, as food and bacteria can easily become trapped in the brackets and wires, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Follow these rules for brushing and flossing with braces:
- Brush your teeth after every meal or snack, using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth at least once a day, using a floss threader or special orthodontic floss to clean under the wires
- Use a mouthwash or antibacterial rinse to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath
- Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, which can increase your risk of tooth decay and damage your braces
Your orthodontist may also recommend additional oral hygiene products or techniques to help keep your teeth and braces clean and healthy.
Wearing Retainers After Braces
After your braces are removed, you will need to wear a retainer to help maintain the position of your teeth and prevent them from shifting back to their original position. Your orthodontist will provide you with specific instructions for wearing and caring for your retainer, but here are some general rules to follow:
- Wear your retainer as directed, typically for 12-22 hours a day
- Clean your retainer regularly, using a soft-bristled brush and mild soap or denture cleaner
- Store your retainer in a protective case when not in use, and keep it away from pets and small children
- Replace your retainer if it becomes damaged or no longer fits properly
Visiting Your Orthodontist
Regular visits to your orthodontist are crucial for monitoring your progress and ensuring that your braces are working correctly. During these visits, your orthodontist will make any necessary adjustments to your braces and check for any issues that may need to be addressed. Here are some rules to follow when visiting your orthodontist:
- Attend all scheduled appointments, and arrive on time
- Bring any questions or concerns you have about your treatment to discuss with your orthodontist
- Follow any instructions provided by your orthodontist for caring for your braces or retainer
- Notify your orthodontist if you experience any pain or discomfort with your braces or if you notice any damage or problems
Common Problems with Braces
While braces are generally safe and effective, there are some common issues that can arise during treatment. Here are a few problems you may encounter with braces and how to handle them:
- Broken or loose brackets or wires: Contact your orthodontist immediately for an appointment to repair the damage.
- Mouth sores or discomfort: Use orthodontic wax to cover any areas of your braces that are causing irritation or discomfort.
- Difficulty eating or speaking: Stick to soft, easy-to-chew foods, and practice speaking slowly and clearly until you get used to your braces.
- Tightness or discomfort after adjustments: Take over-the-counter pain relievers as directed, and eat soft foods until any discomfort subsides.
Braces can be a significant investment in your oral health and self-confidence, and by following these rules for braces, you can help ensure a successful outcome. Remember to avoid foods that can damage your braces, brush and floss regularly, wear your retainer as directed, and attend all scheduled appointments with your orthodontist. If you experience any problems or have questions about your treatment, don't hesitate to contact your orthodontist for help.