What to Expect When Living with Braces
Living with braces can be a small adjustment, but is certainly well worth the outcome. There are several things that can significantly improve your experience while undergoing your orthodontic treatment. Dr. Knight and our team, serving both Louisville, KY, and Radcliff, KY areas, are happy to answer any questions you may have about your new braces. Following a few simple steps can ensure you have the best experience possible. Here are some normal things you can expect during your orthodontic treatment.
Sensitivity and Mild Soreness
General soreness is possible when you first get your braces. It is normal to experience tenderness and pressure sensitivity when biting down. This discomfort typically lasts between three to five days. Swishing with a warm salt water rinse (one teaspoonful of salt to eight ounces of warm water) can help alleviate the soreness. If necessary, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
You may also experience soreness or irritation on your tongue, lips, or cheeks. This should subside in one to two weeks after your tissues adapt to your new braces. In the meantime, you can place orthodontic wax on the braces to alleviate your discomfort. If you feel wax will be necessary, we can provide it for you and give you instructions for its use.
It is normal for your teeth to feel loose or mobile throughout your orthodontic treatment. This is not a cause for concern, as it is a common byproduct of braces. In fact, your teeth must loosen slightly so they can be properly moved into their new positions. Once your treatment is complete, your teeth will tighten up again.
Taking Care of Your Braces
In order to successfully complete orthodontic treatment, you must be compliant and work cooperatively with Dr. Knight. It is imperative that you consistently wear all appliances as prescribed so you can complete your treatment in a timely manner. Be sure to continue proper brushing and flossing, as dental hygiene is even more important for a patient who has braces. It is also vitally important to schedule and attend all appointments so we can track your progress.
Occasionally, a band, wire, or bracket may come loose. There is no need to be alarmed if this happens, as it can be typical during routine treatment. Simply call our office and describe the issue. Our team can help walk you through instructions, should further guidelines be necessary. In the meantime, here is some helpful advice on how to handle the situation until you can make it to our office:
- Loose wire: Sometimes a wire can stick out or protrude, causing irritation to the lip or cheek tissue. If this occurs, use a blunt object (such as a spoon or a pencil eraser) to gently push the offending wire underneath the archwire. If discomfort persists, place a piece of orthodontic wax on the wire to diminish irritation. Call our office as soon as possible to schedule a visit so our team can address the situation. If a piece of the wire comes off, save it and bring it with you to your appointment.
- Broken bracket: If an orthodontic bracket comes loose or breaks, call our office immediately. We will schedule an appointment to evaluate and address the issue. If the bracket is still attached to the archwire, you can place a small piece of orthodontic wax over the bracket to stabilize it. If the bracket has completely come off, simply save it and bring it to the office with you.
Eating with Braces
There are a few limitations when it comes to eating food with your new braces. It is helpful to stock your pantry with soft and nutritious foods for the first couple of days. While you will be able to resume a normal diet, for the most part, there are a few foods you should avoid:
- Crunchy foods: chips, ice, popcorn, raw vegetables
- Sticky foods: chewing gum, caramel, toffee
- Chewy foods: hard bread, bagels, tough meat, licorice
- Hard foods: candy, nuts
- Foods you must bite into: apples, carrots, corn on the cob
- Habitual chewing: fingernails, pens, pencils
By avoiding these types of foods, you can help ensure your braces remain in good shape. Damaged braces can prevent the teeth from moving properly and increase treatment time.
Athletic Mouth Guards
If you play sports, it is imperative that you let us know. A protective mouthguard is recommended for orthodontic patients who play contact sports. A custom guard can be fabricated to fit properly with your braces. If you are involved in a sports-related accident, evaluate your mouth and your appliances immediately. In case of trauma to the lips or face, apply an ice compress to reduce swelling and remain calm. Contact us right away so we can give you further instructions. In severe cases, contact the Emergency Department at the hospital.
If you have lost a tooth due to trauma, gently clean it off, and replace it in the socket if possible. If placing your tooth in the socket is not reasonable, hold it in your mouth to keep it hydrated. In the meantime, take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to alleviate your discomfort.