Knowing what to expect when you get braces will help you feel more prepared for how your teeth will feel and react to braces. The actual procedure is very simple. All patients need to do is, literally, sit back and let us do all the work. Dr. Azar and the registered dental assistants in our orthodontic office will explain every procedure and make sure you feel comfortable each step of the way.
Placing the Braces
Before placing braces, we will remove debris from the teeth and prepare the surfaces so that the brackets can be applied using a fluoride-releasing glue. The fluoride in the glue actually wards off cavity-causing bacteria in the areas where the brackets sit over the tooth itself. Once we place the brackets, the wires that will move the teeth are put into the bracket slots. As soon as the wires are engaged, your teeth will begin to move, but you won’t feel the movement at this point.
How Braces Feel
During the placement appointment, patients usually notice the brackets touching their cheeks and tongue. It will take a few days to adjust to having braces. A few hours after the appointment, your teeth will start feeling the movement of the braces. The best analogy to explain this sensation is to think about when you haven’t made it to the gym recently, and then you go exercise. The next day your muscles will feel sore. Often, the soreness in your teeth will last several days. Because each person’s perception of the soreness is different, some patients feel more discomfort than others.
Since your teeth have never moved, this is the first time your body is experiencing the braces working, so you will need time to get used to this feeling. If you take Tylenol or Advil for a headache, these medicines may reduce the soreness. We will also provide dental wax to use in areas that may be rubbing your cheeks or tongue.
Loosening of Teeth
Right after the braces are put on, your teeth will begin shifting. In a few days, you may notice some of the teeth feel loose. Don’t be alarmed because this is the normal pattern of tooth movement and is the method teeth use to move through the bone. Patients may feel teeth getting loose and may see opening where no spaces existed before. As your teeth shift into the optimal position, the extra spaces will close, and your teeth will firm up again.
Caring for Braces
When we place your braces, we will also review care instructions. Achieving a successful outcome depends on how well you care for your teeth, treat the brackets, and follow our recommendations.
While wearing braces, patients need to keep the teeth, gums, and brackets themselves clean. We will provide you with a complimentary orthodontic hygiene kit. Our team will also review good practices and show you how to use each item in our kit so that you have the proper tools for success.
Use a soft bristle tooth brush after every meal and before bed. Place the tooth brush at a 45 degree angle, brushing above, below, and in between the brackets. Don’t forget to get your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Afterwards, make sure no food or plaque remains around the teeth. As soon as the bristles look frayed, replace your tooth brush. Consider an electric toothbrush because they reduce plaque better than manual toothbrushes.
Flossing removes the plaque and food caught in between teeth and braces, so you need to floss at least once a day. The complimentary hygiene kit we provide will contain floss and reusable floss threaders, which will help you slip the floss under the wires. We will also show you how to floss with braces when you get your braces placed on your teeth. Healthy teeth and gums move more efficiently and your treatment will progress more effectively.
Mouth rinses like Listerine Total Care will help minimize plaque build-up as well as reduce irritations and minor gum inflammation.
Eating with Braces
Unfortunately, food particles and plaque accumulate naturally on teeth with or without braces, but the brackets make it easier for the gunk to sit on the teeth’s surface. This food and plaque create a higher acidity level, which can lead to cavities or gum irritations. To reduce the chance of damaging the brackets and decrease the risks of cavities or gum irritations, we ask our patients to avoid certain foods during orthodontic treatment.
Making smart food choices will help reduce the amount of plaque build-up around your teeth. Foods with higher sugar content produce more plaque. Sticky and chewy foods tend to stick to the brackets and/or teeth, which also creates more plaque. Sodas cause issues with their high sugar content and the soda carbonation that breaks down the glue on the braces. To keep brackets from breaking, cut hard foods into small bite size pieces. Cavities, broken brackets, and swollen gums can prolong your treatment time and hurt your overall dental health.
The following list identifies foods to avoid, but use common sense and logic before eating foods that can potentially damage your braces.
Foods to Avoid:
- Chewy foods like licorice, Skittles, and gummy bears
- Crunchy foods such as popcorn, ice, chips
- Sticky foods including gum or caramel
- Hard foods like nuts, candy, and firm bread
- Biting on hard substances like pencils, pens, or nails
Cut these foods into small pieces: crusted breads, corn on the cob, pizza crust, raw carrots and apples, firm meats, etc.