Getting braces is exciting and nerve-wracking. Many patients come in feeling a bit anxious because they’re unsure of what to expect. While everyone is different, most patients report that getting through the first week is the hardest, but once you’ve adapted, you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful smile.
Tips to help you through the initial adjustment period of having braces:
1) Don’t leave the office with questions. Our team wants to ensure you know everything you need to about life with braces. We’ll cover a lot of information during your first visit, which can be overwhelming, so if you have a question, please ask! Before leaving, make sure you:
- Check wire ends. The doctor will ask you to use your finger and tongue to make sure the wires aren’t extending into your cheeks or running into your tongue the wrong way. Be honest – what you think might be minor discomfort won’t feel so minor after 24 hours.
- Understand next steps. Ensure you know what you’re supposed to do before your next appointment. This might include wearing headgear, using elastics, following specific hygiene recommendations, etc.
- Have enough supplies. We’re always here if you run out, but make your life easier by asking for plenty of dental wax, cleaning aids, elastic bands, or other materials you may need before your next orthodontist appointment.
2) Be prepared with over-the-counter pain medicine. Unlike some other dental procedures, the actual application of braces isn’t painful. There are no needles or drills involved! However, about six hours after the bonding, you’ll likely begin to feel the effects of the arch wires exerting force to shift the teeth into place. Though the pressure is gentle, it takes a few days to get used to it, and your teeth and jaw might feel sore and ache a bit for a few days. To get a jumpstart on braces pain relief, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or Tylenol an hour before your appointment. This way, by the time your wires begin exerting pressure on your teeth, the pain reliever will have started working.
3) Eat the right foods. And, we’re not talking about your veggies! Eating with braces is a new experience, and knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid will make your life with braces easier. While you can eat as soon as you leave the office, we recommend eating only soft foods the first few days. While your mouth and teeth adjust, it’s best to stick to pasta, seedless bread, pudding, soup, yogurt, applesauce, etc. As you adjust to braces and your soreness goes away, you can add more solid foods. However, there are some foods that should always be avoided with braces. These include:
- Sticky foods — Caramels, chewing gum
- Hard foods — Nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — Corn on the cob, apples, carrots
- Chewy foods — Bagels, pizza crust, licorice
- Crunchy foods — Popcorn, chips, ice
4) Wax and saltwater help with discomfort. Brackets and wires can rub on the soft skin in your mouth and cause irritation, especially as you adjust to having braces. Over time, your skin will toughen, but until then, we strongly recommend using the wax we provide to ease any discomfort. Additionally, warm saltwater rinses will help relieve pain and allow sores to heal faster. Add half a teaspoon of table salt to one cup of warm water and rinse for 30 seconds and five to six times a day. There’s no prize for holding out, so don’t wait until you can’t bear the pain.
5) Make sure to practice good oral hygiene. There’s more to oral hygiene when you have braces, but putting the time in to taking care of your teeth the right way will pay off! Clean your teeth after every meal and be sure to remove bits of food that get stuck in your brackets – even in the back. When you have braces, following your usual routine of brushing and flossing regularly is even more important. If you find flossing with braces difficult, try ortho pick flossers. These are designed to easily slide between teeth and bracket wires to remove plaque buildup and food particles. If you find any part of your oral hygiene regimen too difficult to maintain, reach out to our team for help.
Everyone adapts to braces differently, but these tips will help you get started on the right foot. Before long, you won’t even notice your braces! If you have questions at any point before or during your treatment, don’t hesitate to call our office.