Your first days with braces on
Now that you have started orthodontic treatment, here are a few hints to help you get you through the first several days with a minimum of discomfort.
Pain and Management
Congratulations? You have braces!! Everything feels weird, rough, sharp and uncomfortable, but that feeling will disappear over the next week or two as you get used to the braces.
Even though the wires we’ve used to move your teeth are very fine and hardly put any pressure on your teeth, you will still get sore teeth over the next couple of days. Generally, the soreness will start in 2-3 hours after the braces have been placed and get worse over the first 24 hours. So, tonight and tomorrow will probably be the worst, then it should slowly settle over the next week or so.
If you haven’t already taken a pain killer, take something when you get home. Nurofen is generally the most effective. However, if you can’t take Nurofen for any reason, Panadol works well most of the time.
Loosening of Teeth
This is to be expected throughout treatment. It’s normal so don’t be upset. The teeth will again become firmly fixed in their new positions. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved.
Food and Eating
Food and Eating
The first week or two, you will most likely be on very soft food: soup, yoghurt, custard, mashed potato, rice, pasta, scrambled eggs, etc.
While you are on soft food, you don’t have to worry too much about what you eat. You just need to concentrate on keeping your teeth nice and clean.
When you start getting more comfortable chewing with your braces on and move to a more “normal” diet, you have to start being very careful with what you eat.
As a general rule, from now on, until your braces come off, all your food has to be cut up quite finely.
Meat - No chewy bits of meat. Meat must be cut up finer than usual. No tearing meat off chop bones, drumsticks or the like. No crackling if you have roast pork (sorry!!!)
Crusts - No crusts, particularly on toast, crusty bread (French sticks, Italian bread, etc) and no hard crusts on pizzas.
Vegetables- Hard vegetables like carrots and broccoli should ideally be cooked soft. If you prefer to have them a little bit crunchy or raw, they must be shredded or julienned. Crispy fruit, such as apples and pears should be cut into thin pieces. Stone fruit should be cut in half and the stone removed.
Biscuits - Biscuits should be broken up with your fingers before you put them in your mouth. If you break biscuits with your teeth, it is possible that the biscuit could catch a bracket on its edge and knock it off. Hard biscuits are to be avoided, for example, ginger biscuits, Butternut snaps, Vitaweats, etc. Thin or crumbly biscuits, such as Shapes, Saladas, cream biscuits, shortbread, rice crackers, etc, should be safe to eat, but you must break them up first.
As a general rule, don’t use your teeth to break or tear any sort of food. Even a sandwich should be pulled apart and eaten on your back teeth. This is particularly important for bread rolls, hamburgers, Subway, etc.
Lollies - The most common cause of problems with braces is lollies. Sugar-free chewing gum is OK and once or twice a week you may have very soft chocolate. Don’t eat chocolate out of the fridge, it is too hard and don’t eat it more than a couple of times a week because it is a very sticky sugar.
Icy Poles - You will not be able to bit into icy poles or anything that is hard. These are full of sugar and you should really avoid these completely whilst you are in treatment with braces.
You are at a much higher risk of damage to your teeth from sugary food and drink once the braces are placed so you must take precautions. Sometimes the damage can be right on the edge of the bracket and we can’t tell until the braces come off. So best not to risk it.
Apart from the occasional soft chocolate and sugar-free chewing gum, just about all other lollies are banned; specifically Minties, Mentos, Tic-tacs, lolly pops, Chupa Chups, toffees, candies, Redskins, Warheads, Fantales, etc. Avoid most of the bars as well; particularly muesli bars, which are not only sugary, but also hard. Some other sticky chewy bars like Mars Bars, Snickers, Rocky Road, nut bars, etc should be avoided
Drinks - Soft drinks and cordials should be sugar free, ie. diet, lo-cal or zero. Even then, you should restrict these to no more than a couple of times a week. Some of the sugar free drinks can be quite acidic, particularly the Cokes. If you have them more than a couple of times a week, the acid could damage your teeth.
You can drink as much plain water and plain milk as you like, whenever you want, there are no restrictions (but it must be plain). The commercial milk drinks such as Big M, Breaka, Up-and-Go, Iced Coffee Breaks, flavoured milks, etc, which are much higher in sugar, are also on the banned list. This means you may have these drinks occasionally as a treat, but not every week. Smoothies are OK if you make them with fresh fruit, milk, perhaps a dollop of ice cream or yoghurt, but you must not add any flavourings or honey etc. Milo is nearly 50% sugar and must be restricted to no more than once a week. This also applies to other hot drinks like hot chocolate, Quik, etc.
Fruit Juice - Fruit sugar is just as damaging as normal sugar so even pure juice should be restricted to alternate days only. Apple is probably the safest because it is fairly neutral. The more acidic juices, such as orange, lemon, pineapple, should ideally be restricted to once or twice a week.
If you drink all your drinks through a straw, it may reduce the amount of fluid that goes on the front surfaces of your teeth. We also strongly recommend that you rinse your mouth with plain water straight after drinking a sugary drink, to wash all that sugar off your teeth!
If you take part in sport, it’s important that you consult your Orthodontist for special precautions. See the section on sport for more information on mouth guards. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately.
If the teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.
Loose Wire or Band
If a wire or band comes loose, don’t be alarmed. This happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the arch wire.
Simply, get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton wool on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Telephone our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.
As a general rule, an emergency appointment should be made with your Orthodontist when there is severe pain, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can’t take care of. It’s important to know the names of the parts of your appliances.
It will help, when you phone the office, to be able to identify what part is broken or out of place. Refer to the diagram above for a description of the various parts of the braces.
Success of treatment depends upon co-operation between you and the Orthodontist and staff. Wear the appliances as directed, avoid the foods that can be damaging and handle emergencies promptly.
Always be conscientious and responsible toward your treatment. Finishing your treatment on time and achieving a successful result depends on your co-orporation too.
It is very important that you keep your teeth, gums and appliances clean. At least once each day, spend a few moments with a mirror checking the appliances to make sure they are thoroughly clean and in good shape.
Always smile and be proud of your braces. It shows everyone that you take very good care of your health and appearance.