There are some rules to having braces and a patient's willingness to follow those rules can determine the length of treatment and even the outcome. Below we've compiled a list of the most important things to remember:
1. When orthodontic treatments begin, your child will be shown the correct care of braces. Cleansing the mouth is necessary every time they eat. Teeth with braces are harder to clean and trap food very easily. If food is left lodged on the brackets and wires, it can cause permanent chalky spots on the enamel. If food is allowed to collect, the symptoms of inflammation will show and pressure from swelling or bleeding will slow down tooth movement.
2. Avoid sticky foods such as caramels, caramel apples, candy bars with caramel, Starbursts, Fruit Roll-Ups, toffee, gum, gummy bears, and Skittles. Also, avoid hard or tough foods such as pizza crust, ice cubes, nuts, bagels, hard candy, popcorn kernels, and corn chips. Cut foods such as apples, pears, carrots, celery, corn on the cob, chicken wings, pizza, spare ribs, and hard pretzels into small pieces and chew with the back teeth.
LIFE WITH BRACES
3. During all phases of the orthodontic treatment, your child should brush four to five times per day. That means first, brushing back and forth across and in between the wires and gums on the upper and lower teeth to loosen any food particles. Next, brushing correctly as if there are no brackets or appliances on, starting on the outside of the uppers with the bristles at a 45-degree angle toward the gum and scrubbing with a circular motion, two or three teeth at a time using ten strokes, then moving on. Lastly, doing the same on the inner surface of the upper teeth.
4. Floss at least once per day. Use a special floss threader to floss with the braces.
5. To reduce tooth decay, it’s recommended to use fluoride varnish treatments every three months during all phases of orthodontic treatments. That also reduces the formation of hypo-calcified areas (white spots). Daily home fluoride rinses and gels may also be prescribed to protect teeth during orthodontic care.
6. When wearing a retainer, clean it by brushing with toothpaste. Be extra careful to brush the wire inside the lower teeth when wearing a lower fixed retainer. Always bring your retainer to each appointment. Try to avoid flipping the retainer since doing that can cause damage to the teeth. Place the retainer in the plastic case when it is removed. Never wrap the retainer in a paper napkin or tissue; someone may throw it away. Excessive heat will warp and ruin the retainer.
7. If wearing elastics (rubber bands), change as directed, usually once or twice a day. Wear them all the time, unless otherwise directed. Wear your elastics correctly, attaching them as instructed. Take them off while brushing. If elastics are worn intermittently, they will continually "shock" the teeth and cause more soreness. Sore teeth between appointments usually indicate improper wear of headgear or elastics or inadequate hygiene.