Congratulations are in order if you’ve decided to get braces. This treatment will improve the appearance of your smile and oral health – but only after wearing braces for an average of around two years. There’s no manual available for living with braces, so we’ve compiled some handy tips (seven, to be exact) to prepare you or your child for the journey ahead. So let’s get started.
Be prepared with an essential braces care kit
Most patients find the first couple of weeks after getting braces their most challenging. They have to get used to the feel of a new appliance in their mouth and everything that goes with it.
When you’re living with braces, there are two main concerns throughout each day: keeping particles of food out of your mouth and preventing discomfort – which brings us nicely to our first tip.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, having a care pack with essential items to hand will ensure you feel fully prepared for whatever life throws at you during your braces journey.
A care pack for braces should include essential oral care products such as a toothbrush, small mirror, interdental brush, orthodontic wax and spare rubber bands (if these are included in your treatment). These items shouldn’t take up much space and can be left in your handbag, car, or school backpack, so they’re within easy reach when you’re out and about.
As an adult, you can also include over-the-counter pain relief such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to help you get through the day if you’re feeling a little under the weather. The longer you have braces, the more you’ll get accustomed to them and devise your way of making them feel more comfortable. So feel free to add whatever you need to your braces care kit.
Consider a water flosser
One of the first things you’re likely to notice when you’re living with braces is that it’s easier to get food stuck in your teeth and considerably harder to get it out. If you’ve forgotten to have your toothbrush with you when you’re out and about, you could try filling your mouth with water and swishing it around until those pesky food particles fall out of the crevices, and you’re left with a fresh mouth.
Flossing takes longer and becomes more of a challenge when you’re wearing braces. We recommend threading waxed floss as it’s less likely to tear or get caught around
your braces. However, if it’s still a hassle, why not consider a water flosser to bypass this complicated process? This device delivers a steady stream of water into the mouth and uses water pressure to remove food debris and plaque. It may be more expensive than string floss, but there’s less risk of getting the string floss stuck or breaking a wire.
Don’t give up on all your favourite foods
Your dentist or orthodontist will likely tell you which foods aren’t safe to eat when living with braces, which can seem quite daunting.
While you should follow your dentist’s instructions, the good news is that there may be different ways of preparing your favourite foods.
Try softening your vegetables by steaming them, or use a slow cooker to prepare a succulent dish that melts in the mouth. Corn can be cut off the cob, and apples neatly chopped into smaller pieces. You can also toss tough vegetables or fruit into a blender for a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
Many food restrictions can also be replaced with simple alternatives:
- Nuts – We’re all familiar with peanut butter, but any nuts can be blended into a smooth paste you can spread onto bread or toast.
- Chewing gum – You can still maintain fresh minty breath with a swirl of mouthwash in the morning. Listerine is a good option as it helps kill germs left behind after brushing, reduces plaque and freshens the mouth. When you’re out and about, minty mouth sprays will instantly freshen your breath
- Caramel – While sticky caramels and toffees are foods to avoid when living with braces, why not indulge yourself with the caramel taste, only in a syrup you pour over a dessert or ice cream?
- Popcorn – Kernels from typical popcorn can damage braces, but puffed corn snacks and rice cakes give a similar texture and taste to popcorn without any risks.
Make friends with orthodontic wax
While fitting braces doesn’t hurt, initially anyway, they can rub the insides of your mouth. The friction causes minor pain or discomfort as your mouth gradually adjusts to the appliance. Drinking cold water or taking Paracetamol offers relief, but it’s best to apply orthodontic wax. While this is only a temporary solution, it helps until the soreness subsides. All you need do is break off a small piece of wax and warm it up by rolling it between your fingers. Then place it onto the area of the braces that’s causing the problem where it will act as a barrier.
Remember to take care of your lips
Naturally, braces cause some changes inside your mouth but don’t overlook what they could be doing to other parts of the body as well. Living with braces can slow down saliva production since the bracket and wires take up space in the mouth. As a result, it can make the mouth and lips feel dry. Applying soothing lip balm to stop chapped or dry lips, and be sure to add this to your essential braces care kit.
Think about whitening your teeth
Most people are so focused on straightening teeth that they forget how their braces may affect tooth colour. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, cola and other beverages known to stain the teeth while wearing braces. If you can’t live without your caffeine fix first thing in the morning, we suggest rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water immediately afterwards to reduce the risk of caffeine stains. Brushing with a whitening toothpaste can help, but ask your dentist about teeth whitening solutions when nearing the end of your orthodontic treatment.
Hang in there
We know that living with braces is uncomfortable at first. They feel strange, your mouth feels tender and sore, and you may find them frustrating.
But, trust us when we say that everything eases as you become more accustomed to their feel and adept at brushing and flossing around them. Discomfort may increase after your dentist or orthodontist has tightened them. But rinse your mouth with warm saltwater to soothe it, relieve the pain with a painkiller, and move forward.
While wearing braces may seem like a hard slog, the results are well worth it in the end.
To find out more about living with braces or see if you’re a suitable candidate for Invisalign clear aligners, please get in touch with the caring, experienced team at Foxbury Dental. Call on 01858 455 100 or use our online booking service.