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Life with Braces

Will my teeth be sore?

You are likely to experience some discomfort in the first few days after your braces are placed and after subsequent adjustments. The most effective remedy for tooth soreness is Panadol (paracetamol).

You may experience some looseness of your teeth as a result of tooth movement. Please do not panic, as this is a normal response. Tooth soreness and mobility is caused by the tooth moving through the bone, as well as the pulling of the small ligaments that hold the tooth in place. This is actually a good sign that progress is being made.

Can I eat normally?

For the first few days you may only be able to manage soft foods such as rice, pasta, soups, yoghurt, eggs, ice cream and jelly. You can become more adventurous after a couple of days.

We recommend you avoid drinks or foods that have a high sugar or acid content, particularly sports drinks such as Gatorade and softdrinks such as Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite etc. You must also be very careful with hard foods as they can break the brackets on your teeth. Try to avoid items such as nuts, crusty bread, pork crackling and ice (and pencils!). Some raw vegetables and fruits such as carrots and apples should be chopped first and chewed on your back teeth. Sticky lollies such as Minties, Toffees, Fantales, Redskins, boiled sweets, and caramels must be avoided, as they are a major cause of breakages. Chewing gum is also not recommended as the gum sticks to your braces. A little care will keep any breakages and problems to a minimum and avoid prolonging your treatment.

Brushing

The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is by brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces and, over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this plaque accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, please take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will achieve the best possible result.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between your braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

In addition to your normal toothbrush, an Interproximal (or “spiral”) toothbrush may assist in cleaning underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Interproximal toothbrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. Interproximal brushes can be obtained from your local Pharmacy.

During orthodontic treatment it is recommended that you brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces: in the morning after breakfast, after lunch or right after school, after dinner and at bedtime.

We recommend that you take your toothbrush to school or work so that your teeth can be cleaned after lunch. We also ask that you clean your teeth prior to your orthodontic appointment. We have an area in our clinic specifically set aside for tooth brushing. Just ask one of our staff to show you where this is.

You may also need to replace your toothbrush more often now that you are wearing orthodontic appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one.

Flossing

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, we recommend you use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque.

We also understand it’s challenging to use regular dental floss when you’re got braces on. Floss Threaders are like soft plastic, bendable sewing needles that can be threaded with standard waxed dental floss to make flossing much easier. Sometimes it helps to tie the floss onto the threader before you begin flossing.

Alternatively, you may wish to obtain a product called Super Floss from your local Pharmacy. Super Floss is a pre-cut length of floss that has an in-built threader. This in-built threader enables you to guide the floss above/below the arch wire and floss right up to the gum line where plaque can build up.

Please use care when flossing around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully or put too much pressure on it. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, please let a staff member know at your next appointment

Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day. The most important time to floss is at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed.

Antibacterial mouthwash

An antibacterial mouthwash will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. It helps to prevent infection and reduce irritation that may develop from wearing braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of mouthwash (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use mouthwash up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing. Just like using antiseptic or Betadine for a scrape on your skin, mouthwash helps the inside of your mouth heal. Mouthwash can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Cleaning your removable appliance

Since food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, you should brush your removable appliance every day with an old toothbrush, cold water and liquid hand soap.

To remove the build-up of any calcium deposits from your appliance, you should soak the appliance in white vinegar for 20 minutes 1 to 2 times per week. You can also use a denture cleaner such as Polident to freshen it up. Your appliance may taste better, and this will also help prevent plaque and bacteria accumulation.

Playing contact sport

You can still play contact sport like football, netball, basketball, soccer and hockey when wearing braces. We do recommend, however, wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth, lips, cheeks and braces from accidental knocks during sport.

If your mouth guard is too tight fitting, it may interfere with your braces. If a mouth guard rubs, we suggest trimming it until it is comfortable. Alternatively you might want to get a mouth guard that fits more comfortably. If you choose to purchase a remouldable mouthguard, such as a ShockDoctor from Rebel Sports, be sure to get the adult size to allow room for the brackets when moulding it to fit accurately. As your teeth are continuously on the move, your mouthguard may need to be check and remoulded over time. Sometimes this can be on a weekly basis during seasonal sport.

Regular dental check-ups

It is important that you maintain your normal six-monthly visits to your family dentist or school clinic during your orthodontic treatment to ensure your oral health is maintained. Orthodontic treatment may need to be put on hold or stopped altogether if there is a significant deterioration in your oral health during the active treatment period.

"Your orthodontic treatment represents an investment in your health and well being."