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Life with Braces

"I need braces?! What now?"

Don't worry, braces aren't nearly as scary as you may think. In fact, braces today come in a variety of styles, materials, and colors, making life with braces much easier, more comfortable, and even more stylish than in the past.

Length of Treatment

This depends on three key factors:

  • Early treatment — Early treatment allows orthodontists to monitor the growth of the jaw and recommend further orthodontic treatment if it becomes necessary. In some cases it may be recommended that a patient wait to receive treatment.
  • What needs correction — Different patients react to treatments differently. While it may take one patient only 12 months to complete treatment, it may take another patient 24 months. Treatment times can vary depending on how quickly your body responds and how much work is needed.
  • YOU — Your willingness to use the appliances your orthodontist gives you plays a major role in the length of time it takes to complete your treatment. Taking good care of your braces and appliances will help make your treatment shorter.

Watch a time-lapse treatment:

Braces Your Way

Our practice offers a variety of braces, types and styles, to choose from. Some common options include:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Clear (ceramic) braces
  • Clear aligners (Invisalign®)

While braces may have had a bad reputation in the past, today's braces make it easy to look good and feel good.

Foods to Avoid

The most common causes of a broken appliance and disruption of treatment is poor food choices. Caution must be used with foods such as dense bread, apples, and hard/chewy candy:

  • Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
  • Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
  • Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
  • Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Foods to Enjoy

  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
  • Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Common Soreness

When you first get your braces, it is normal for your teeth and mouth to feel tender or sore. It may help to dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water and swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for a couple of minutes (do not swallow). If the pain is more severe, you can try a pain reliever such as Tylenol.

It is also common for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We provide special wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need more wax, please let us know.

Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry; this is normal. Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose.

Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets

If a wire, band, or bracket comes loose, please contact us as soon as possible so  we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off,  save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix a loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Playing Sports with Braces

Good news for athletes! You can safely play sports with braces by wearing a mouthguard. Let us know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.

In case of a sports accident, be sure to immediately check your mouth and appliance for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away.

Taking Care of Your Appliances

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

Keeping Teeth Straight ... for Life

Teeth continue to move throughout life. Without a retainer, the forces in your jaw will cause your teeth to drift. It doesn’t take much to ruin the smile and bite that your orthodontist just fixed.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), it's recommended that retainers be worn for as long as you want your teeth to remain straight. The most common retention protocol is 6 months full-time wear followed by nighttime wear for life.