What to Do When You Get Braces—3 Important Steps
Getting braces from Reagin Orthodontics is an important step in your dental care, but what you do when you get those braces is just as important as the braces themselves. So, what steps should you take after you get braces? Here are three easy-to-follow steps: 1.) manage your discomfort; 2.) be careful about the foods you eat; and 3.) take care of your braces. Let’s talk more about those steps.
How to Manage Pain When You Get Braces
One common issue with braces is the discomfort. While you will experience some soreness and biting pressure when you first get your braces, it will fade with time—usually within three to five days. Fortunately, you can do several things to ease the soreness:
- Chew soft sugar-free gum. Yes, gum! Research has shown that chewing gum for five minutes after you get braces can reduce pain associated with orthodontic treatment. Continue every four to eight hours for a week to relieve discomfort. Just make sure you use soft sugar-free gum that doesn’t stick to your braces!
- Salt-water rinses for your cheeks and gums. Mix ¼ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of lukewarm water and rinse when you experience soft tissue discomfort in your mouth. It can help reduce inflammation. As a bonus, it also helps remove leftover food stuck in your teeth and braces.
- Eat soft food. When you first get your braces, you’ll want to avoid hard-to-bite foods. Stick to soft items like fish, pasta, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, soups, scrambled eggs, and shakes. And cold foods like apple sauce and ice cream help your mouth feel better, too.
- Take medicine. You can use over-the-counter pain relief like Ibuprofen if you experience discomfort after getting or adjusting your braces. You can also use a topical numbing gel like Anbesol or Orajel for soft tissue irritations.
Foods to Avoid When You Get Braces
The good news is, you’ll be able to eat most of the same foods you enjoyed before you got braces. However, you’ll need to stay away from a few things because they’ll damage the components of your braces. They can cause wires or bands to snap—and that means more time in treatment. We know you don’t want that! Here are some of the foods you’ll need to avoid when you get braces:
- Very Chewy foods: big bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, hard chips
- Sticky foods: caramels, bubble gum
- Hard foods: nuts, hard candy
- Foods you bite into: corn on the cob, raw apples, raw carrots
You can still eat foods like apples and carrots. Just cut them into smaller pieces so you can pop them in your mouth instead of biting into them.
Foods aren’t the only thing to avoid chewing when you get braces. You’ll also need to stop habits like biting pencils, pens, and fingernails. If you stay away from all of these things, you’ll be able to get your braces off as soon as possible, and we know you want that!
How to Take Care of Your Braces
Braces may look indestructible, but they’re not. They require care and maintenance. Here are a few tips on caring for both your teeth and your braces.
- Brush after every meal. Even when you have snacks. That’s because those braces have a gazillion tiny places where food can get trapped—and that causes plaque buildup. Not good. Be sure to rinse with mouthwash and floss once a day. These basics can ensure you don’t spend more time in the dentist’s office than necessary.
- Invest in a waterpik. This helpful tool can remove food from hard to reach areas, and aid in keeping plaque off of your teeth. You can pick one up at any pharmacy or online.
- Floss carefully. Too much force can damage your braces, so be gentle. You might even try using a floss threader or braces floss sticks. We will show you how to floss with braces, so don’t worry—you’ll be a pro!
- Eat with a fork and knife. Especially with finger foods like burgers and pizza. Biting into food (rather than placing a bite inside your mouth) pushes the food up behind and between your braces, and it can get stuck there—again, causing plaque.
- Fall in love with chocolate. When you need a little sugar pick-me-up, avoid candy that sticks to your braces, such as hard candies and sugary gum. Chocolate is softer and melts in your mouth. Who knew you’d have a good excuse to eat chocolate? But don’t go overboard. The bacteria in plaque loves sugar.
Life with braces will take some adjustment—no pun intended! The team at our offices will walk you through what to do when you get braces so you can feel confident in taking the steps to make the process easier. We want you to experience the benefits and minimize the drawbacks of this orthodontic care. Call us today to talk more about your braces or your overall dental care. Or if you’re interested in getting braces, be sure to contact us for a free consultation.