Life with Braces
The Care and Feeding of Your New Friends: Your Braces
Congratulations on your first step to a Spectacular Smile!
Dr. Stevens and his team are happy to work with you to achieve the ultimate goal of a spectacular smile with healthy, straight teeth. Now that you have braces, proper brushing will take some extra time and effort. When your braces come off, you want your teeth to look their best, so start today to be your smile’s best friend. It is very important to keep your teeth and braces spotlessly clean. Brushing after meals is crucial! If you cannot brush right away, be sure to at least rinse well with water until you can brush. It is always a good idea to carry a travel toothbrush when away from home. Here are the new steps to brushing your teeth with braces:
- Brush the front and back of all your teeth holding the toothbrush flat on your teeth and braces using small circular motions.
- To brush above the brackets and underneath the wire, hold the toothbrush at an angle. Make sure the bristles of your toothbrush touch your teeth. Don’t forget to gently brush your gums too! Using small circles will let the bristles work their way under the wires.
- Brush the biting surface of all your teeth using the same brushing motion.
- Look closely in the mirror to be sure all your teeth and wires sparkle.
If you leave plaque and food on your teeth and around your braces it can cause swollen gums, bad breath, permanent marks on your teeth and cavities.
* * * Remember - brushing your teeth and appliances should take AT LEAST two minutes and should be done three times a day or more.
Flossing daily helps get rid of bits of food that your toothbrush can’t reach. This helps keep your gums healthy and prevents tooth decay. There are many varieties of floss - use whatever works best for you. We know flossing with braces can be time-consuming but once you get the hang of it, it will be a piece of cake! We would like for you to floss every day, but no less than three times a week. We have provided you with a sample pack of Floss Threaders to assist you in making flossing easier with your braces. If you run out of Floss Threaders, they can be purchased at most drug stores. Here are some simple steps for using your floss threaders:
- Get out a Floss Threader and a string of floss. Thread the floss though the threader like “needle and thread.”
- Take the pointed end of the threader and feed it underneath your wire. It is best to aim away from your gums.
- After the threader has been fed underneath the wire, hold one end of the floss and pull the threader out.
- Now the floss is underneath the wire and you can floss this area normally.
- Pull the floss straight out, and go to the next area.
- Repeat all these steps until you have flossed between all of your teeth.
* * * Please note that you cannot move from tooth to tooth without removing the floss and re-feeding it through the next section of the wire because the brackets will be in your way.
The Proxabrush is used to aid in removing plaque & food that may be underneath your wires and around the brackets. When using the Proxabrush it is also recommended to point away from the gums. Toothpaste or water is not needed when using the Proxabrush. The Proxabrush may be used as needed.
The fluoride gel helps to prevent cavities. It is to be used after brushing and flossing only one time a day before bed. Here is how the gel should be used:
- After brushing your teeth with your regular toothpaste, shake the excess water off your toothbrush (or use a separate, dry toothbrush) and apply a few drops of fluoride gel to the brush.
- Brush all your teeth, front and back, coating your teeth thoroughly with the gel. Swish with the gel in your mouth for 30 seconds then spit out the excess. After a minute you can rinse briefly.
- When you’re finished, off to bed you go.
* * * When you run out of Fluoride gel, be sure to let us know, so we can provide you with more.
The wax is used for sores you may get while getting used to your braces. Remember it will take some time for your lips and cheeks to get adjusted to your braces, so it would not be a good idea to cover your braces with excessive wax right after you get your braces on. The wax acts as a “Band Aid” if a bracket or wire is rubbing your cheek or lip the wrong way. To apply the wax, take a small piece (about the size of a pea), ball it up in your fingertips and place it on the problem bracket or wire. If the sore does not heal within a few days or pain persists call us and we can schedule you to take care of the problem.
Food Do’s and Don’ts
Eating the right food plays a major role in the success of your orthodontic treatment. If a brace comes loose from a tooth, then that tooth is ‘out of control’, and it may require extra work (and extra time!) to fix it. We don’t want you to wear braces any longer than necessary, so please do what you can to keep your braces on your teeth!
Don’t eat foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy. Avoid candy, gum, nuts, hard chips and popcorn. For foods that you would normally bite into with your front teeth, you should cut or break it into small pieces and chew on your back teeth. Eating these foods can cause the brackets to become loose or broken. Keep foreign objects out of your mouth such as pens, pencils, and fingernails because these can also cause breakage. If you have excessive breakage, it will prolong your treatment time. Dr. Stevens and his team want to work with you to get to that spectacular smile we are all looking for as soon as possible, so let’s do what we can to take care of your braces properly.
We have given you a No-No List of foods that can be a problem, and you might want to put it on your refrigerator with the magnet we have also given you. We can’t list all the foods that might be a problem, but you’re smart, and you get the idea!
Dr. Stevens and his team try very hard to create your spectacular smile. We need your help too! We want to reward you for doing your part. We have an incentive program to help:
We have a report card/wooden nickel program that allows you to collect coins and turn them in for prizes. This report card lets you know everything we did to your braces at your appointment and how you’re doing on your brushing. The wooden nickels can be turned in at any time during treatment for the prizes you can see in the cabinet next to the reception desk area.
Being a good patient and doing everything you’re supposed to do can really pay off in the end: your braces are off, you have a spectacular smile, and you can earn prizes!
What to Expect After You Get Your Braces On
The night of or day after getting your braces on it is likely that your teeth will be sore. Everyone is a little different in how much soreness they experience. Teeth will feel tender and soft foods are going to be your main preference. You may need to take some form of pain reliever (such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®) to ease discomfort. Ibuprofen has been shown to be the most effective for dental pain. Aleve has the advantage of working for a long time – school kids can take it before going to school and it should last through the school day – less need to involve the school nurse. Feel free to call us if you have any questions or concerns. Any of our team members will be happy to assist you with any needs you may have.
If something becomes loose or broken, or just doesn’t feel ‘right’, please call us. If it’s an evening, a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and you are in pain, please call the office (850)692-2325. Someone will always be on call, and the recording at the office will tell you whom to contact. If you are not in pain, you can usually wait until normal business hours Monday - Thursday to call us.