Life with Braces
FAQs | Why Braces? | For Children | For Adults | Two-Phase Treatment | Orthodontic Treatments
Surgical Orthodontics | Ortho Glossary | Life with Braces | Types of Braces | Types of Appliances | Palatal Expander
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Regular and Broken Appointments
Your appointments will vary in time. The appointment to get your braces on usually takes from one to two hours. You'll then see us at regular intervals 4 - 6 weeks apart for an adjustment, which usually takes 10 minutes. If an appointment will be longer we will usually inform you of this at the time of scheduling your next appointment. Our regular office hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30 AM to 6 PM. Patients are seen by appointment only. We make every effort to be on time for you, and ask that you extend the same courtesy to us. If for some reason you cannot keep your appointment, please contact our office immediately. By doing so you allow another patient to use that time as well as reschedule your appointment. If it is after hours, please leave your name and number and a brief message on our voice mail and we will return your call in the morning. Try to cancel only if it is an emergency. Appointments are scheduled for you on the 4 - 6 week interval and therefore rescheduling can become difficult. However, we will always do our best to accommodate you.
Length of Treatment
Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or longer depending on the age of the patient, the severity of the problem and the degree of movement. During this time, you will need to keep appointments, follow instructions, as well as practice good oral hygiene and proper nutrition. Also continue to visit your dentist regularly. Once your braces are removed, retainers are utilized to hold your teeth in their new positions until your bone, gums, and muscles adapt to the new teeth positions.
Before any orthodontic treatment, your family dentist should make certain that all cavities have been treated and the health of your gums and underlying bone are free of periodontal disease. Your family dentist should also schedule cleaning and cavity checkup visits during your orthodontic care. We would like to reinforce the need to keep your regular visits with your family dentist. We are an aid to your family dentist, not a replacement. Please contact our office if you have any questions.
Eating Habits - Foods to Avoid
A healthy diet means a healthy body, healthy teeth, and a better result for your orthodontia. Please do not eat hard foods: nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spareribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating), and popcorn. These foods risk breaking brackets and wires. Also beware of nail biting and pen or pencil chewing habits, since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods: taffy, caramels, bubble gum, sticky candy of any sort. A small piece of sugarless gum occasionally is acceptable. Use common sense about most foods. Remember that if you do break off a bracket it will extend your treatment time. As long as there is a loose bracket the tooth will not move.
Foods to avoid while wearing braces:
- Gummy Bears - Although these are not hard, they are sticky and will cause bands to loosen up and pull separators out.
- Chewing Cracked Ice - A big no-no! This can crack the cement, which bonds the braces to the teeth.
- Hard Pretzels
- Hard Pizza Crust and Hard Bread Crust-It is the crust itself and not the pie. Just avoid the hard edges.
- Apples (unless peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)
- Carrots (unless cut in strips)
- Popcorn - If the little shells get between your braces and your gums you are in for an infection. They don't come out on their own so best to stay away from it.
- Frozen Candy Bars
- Hard Candies - Anything that is hard will cause damage.
- Sticky Candies - Although these are not hard, they are sticky and will cause bands to loosen up and pull separators out.
- Meat on the Bone
- Beef Jerky - Not only is it bad for your teeth and jaws, it will break brackets too.
- Granola Bars
- Corn on the Cob
- Bubble Gum
- Tootsie Roll / Bit-O-Honey
- Crunchy Chips - If it makes a crunch when you bite down, it is best to stay away from these foods.
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Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
Flossing: Step 1
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.
Flossing: Step 2
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Flossing: Step 3
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Flossing: Step 4
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.
You will notice that it requires more time to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food tends to get stuck in the brackets and between your teeth, and can only be removed by brushing and flossing. Floss every day. In order to get the floss under your wires, use floss threaders. If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it will leave a permanent white scar on the surface. Brushing after meals should become part of your daily schedule. Make sure to use the special fluoride gel prescribed by your orthodontist every day. It will not only prevent cavities, but also help prevent decalcification around the brackets of your braces.
Elastics (rubber bands) exert the proper force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn all the time and changed once a day. Any time missed in wearing your elastics will only make your treatment take longer, so remember these things:
- You are responsible for placing the elastics on your braces between appointments. Make sure to wear them as instructed. Remove them only when brushing your teeth, gums and braces after meals. Then put your elastics back on immediately.
- Always carry a few elastics with you, so if one breaks you can replace it right away. If your supply is low, call the office and we will mail you an additional supply of elastics.
- If you forget to insert your elastics one day, do not double up the next day, just follow your regular instructions.
- Elastics become worn out. When they lose their elasticity, they do not provide the proper pressure on your teeth and jaws. It is very important to change them as directed, even when they are not broken.
- If your elastics break frequently, a wire or band loosens, or a hook breaks off call our office immediately. Do not wait until your next appointment. These problems need to be corrected as soon as possible.
The removable appliance is carefully designed to move or to hold your teeth. It is important that it is worn according to instructions and brought to each appointment.
You must wear your appliance at all times, even while you are asleep. It may be removed while eating, swimming, or playing vigorous sports activities.
Avoid flipping your appliance with your tongue. This can cause damage to your teeth or breakage of your appliance.
Your new appliance may make your teeth sore for a day or two, especially after an adjustment. If you have a sore spot on you gums, call our office so that we can adjust the appliance.
Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Denture cleaner (e.g., Efferdent, Fixodent or Polident) can also be used for a more thorough cleaning. If you are wearing a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, be extra careful to clean the wire and the area around it. Flossing should be done every day.
Never wrap your appliance in a paper napkin or tissue and set it down on the table. You or someone else may accidentally throw it away. Do not put it in your pocket when playing or you may break or lose it. Whenever it is not in your mouth, it should be placed in its plastic appliance case.
Keep your appliance away from dogs or cats, as they love to chew on them. Avoid storing them near any source of heat. Do not boil your retainer to sterilize it. If needed, bring it to the office and we will be happy to disinfect it for you.
The Patient's Responsibility
Please follow these instructions and keep your appointments.
- See your dentist every 6 months.
- Brush your teeth after every meal.
- AVOID eating sweets between meals unless the teeth can be cleaned immediately thereafter.
- AVOID chewing ice, hard or sticky candy, gum, and popcorn, playing with, or dislodging appliances.
- AVOID rough play where you could receive a blow to the face or could catch the appliances upon your clothing and dislodging or breaking them.
- Please notify the office IMMEDIATELY if the appliances are loose, lost or broken.