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Life with Braces

Some people are embarrassed by their braces. Don’t be. Although you might think that your smile with braces is undesirable, this is usually your view and not the rest of the world’s opinion. In many situations, encounters with other adults will stimulate curiosity and admiration. If that doesn’t satisfy you, just remember that when they are removed, you will most likely have a smile that is better than most people’s smiles. The typical 18-24 month brace period will be well worth it.

The most difficult period with braces occurs during the first week or two after they have been implemented. During this period, you may experience sensitivity or soreness in your mouth. This is normal for the first week. Often times, rinsing with warm salt water is often sufficient to reduce the pain. If that does not work, take an over-the-counter pain medication such as Advil. If you experience irritation due to lip or cheek tissue rubbing on the appliance, applying wax to the appliance in the localized area often helps. If the pain persists, see your orthodontist for assistance.

During the first week or two, you may need to be careful about what you eat. It is a good idea to eat only soft foods. Avoid difficult to chew foods such as meats, hard crust bread and carrots. As your braces “settle in” you will be able to regain your normal eating regimen. However, you must realize that your braces are not iron clad. Avoid hard or crunchy foods like hard candy, popcorn kernels, etc. Additionally, chewy foods can be hard on your braces. Gums, caramels, tootsie rolls should be avoided. Cut your food up in small pieces and  chew near the back teeth. Avoid chewing ice.

You should also keep in mind that your braces are always gradually moving your teeth. Your orthodontist has a “game plan” to move your teeth in the right direction and at the right pace. Over time, you will probably go through phases of this plan because your teeth movement is usually not linear. Your orthodontist may move a tooth in one direction during the first phase and then move it in another direction during a later phase. Therefore, it is vital that you follow his or her instructions carefully and consistently. This will assure the best results in the shortest period of time. By not following instructions, the length of time you have your braces on may be extended or the results may not be what you want.

Proper dental hygiene is even more important when you have braces than when you do not. Because the braces create additional surfaces and detail in which food particles and decay can form, it is vital that you brush and floss regularly. Usually, prescription strength fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

If for any reason you receive a significant impact to your mouth, as a result of an accident, sporting activities or from any other activity, thoroughly check your braces to make sure they have not been damaged or altered in any way. If you regularly engage in physical sports, you may want to have your dentist make you a custom mouth guard to wear during these activities.