The Do’s and Don’ts for Orthodontic Treatment
If your teeth need straightening, keeping your braces in good condition and your teeth clean will give you a more comfortable experience and help to ensure your orthodontic therapy stays on schedule.
Remembering the do’s and don’ts for getting orthodontic treatment plays a big part in ensuring the process runs smoothly and you end up with the healthy smile you’ve always wanted.
If you already have fixed braces, your orthodontist will have given you a list of instructions to follow, but it can be easy to slip into bad habits as the weeks and months go by.
Or if you’re still in the process of thinking about getting orthodontic treatment, you may be wondering what wearing braces would entail.
This guide of do’s and don’ts when getting orthodontic care can help you achieve the best results from your treatment.
Looking After Your Braces
Braces do a great job in straightening teeth, closing gaps between teeth, and correcting a bad bite – provided you look after them properly.
Whatever your orthodontic problem, taking good care of your braces will help to ensure a timely and successful outcome for your treatment.
What Can I Eat During Orthodontic Treatment?
It’s essential to avoid damage to your braces, particularly the fragile wires and brackets. Wires can snap or start to stick out, and brackets may become loose or break. These problems are usually the result of chewing sticky or hard foods, so you need to be cautious about what you eat.
DO eat foods such as:
- Tender cuts of meat.
- Steamed vegetables.
- Soft cheese.
- Mashed potatoes.
- Soft rice.
DON’T eat foods like:
- Beef jerky.
- Hard bread rolls.
- Potato chips.
- Sticky or hard candy.
- Corn chips.
- Hard crackers or cookies.
What Can I Drink During Orthodontic Treatment?
Besides watching what you eat, you need to pay extra attention to the drinks you consume during orthodontic treatment. Sugary, acidic and carbonated drinks can stain your braces and weaken the adhesive that bonds the brackets of your braces to your teeth.
DO favor drinks such as:
- Plain milk.
DON’T drink a lot of:
- Sodas, including diet sodas.
- Other carbonated beverages.
- Fruit juices.
While cutting out some of your favorite foods and drinks may be challenging, getting orthodontic treatment can steer you toward a healthier diet that will benefit your overall wellbeing as well as your teeth and gums.
What Else Should I Do When Wearing Braces?
Apart from being careful about what you eat and drink, here are a few more do’s and don’ts for looking after your braces.
DO have a braces kit handy as you go about your everyday activities or go on vacation. This will allow you to keep your braces clean and fix any minor issues. You can buy a braces kit or put together your own, with items such as toothpaste and a mini-brush, floss, and dental wax to ease any discomfort from protruding wires.
DO take extra care to avoid a knock to your face, which can damage your braces as well as your mouth.
DON’T bite your nails or chew on pens or pencils.
Looking After Your Mouth While Wearing Braces
Brushing and flossing your teeth during orthodontic treatment can be difficult because of the nooks and crannies created by braces. That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) stresses the importance of particularly thorough oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment.
- Brush your teeth after each meal and snack. Be aware, though, that aggressive brushing can result in tooth sensitivity and gum recession.
- Use an enamel-strengthening fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink lots of water.
- Rinse your mouth regularly with an antibacterial mouthwash with fluoride.
- Use a toothbrush with hard bristles.
- Forget to floss. Waxed floss with a floss threader is recommended if you have braces.
- Skip your routine dental check-up and cleaning appointments.
- Include a lot of sugary foods and drinks in your diet.
More Do’s and Don’ts for Going Through Orthodontic Treatment
Other points to bear in mind when getting orthodontic treatment include:
DO wear a mouthguard during sports to protect your braces and your teeth.
DO call your orthodontist if a bracket becomes loose.
DO remember that any tenderness during your orthodontic treatment will be temporary and can be eased with dental wax and/or over-the-counter pain relief.
DO cut vegetables and fruits into bite-size pieces.
DON’T skip your orthodontic appointments for adjustments to your braces.
DON’T forget to wear your retainers as instructed after your braces are removed. Whether you have braces or not:
DON’T chew on ice.
DON’T use your teeth to take tops off bottles or rip open bags.
DON’T grind your teeth.
If you have removable Invisalign aligners1 rather than conventional braces, remember it’s still important to keep them clean to avoid a build-up of bacteria, plaque and tartar.
DO take your aligner out and brush it every time you clean your teeth after each meal.
DON’T drink anything except water when wearing your aligner. Residue from drinks such as tea and coffee can get trapped in your Invisalign trays, increasing the risk of cavities and stained teeth.
Staying Motivated During Your Orthodontic Treatment
Wearing braces may come with a long list of don’ts but there are just as many things you can do.
For instance, you can still enjoy occasional treats such as a soda or soft snacks like ice cream or cake during your orthodontic treatment, as long as you stick to a diet that’s good for you and good for your braces. And you can continue to take part in sports provided you get fitted with a mouthguard.
To help keep yourself motivated during your orthodontic treatment, bear in mind that maintaining a good routine of oral health and avoiding damage to your braces will go a long way toward achieving the best results.
An experienced orthodontist2 can help to guide you through all the do’s and don’ts for getting orthodontic treatment while encouraging you to stay focused on your ultimate goal – strong and healthy teeth and an awesome smile.