All the Must-Know Essentials to Maintaining Your Braces
Once you’ve gotten your braces, you’ll need to start caring for them, as well as caring for your teeth while wearing braces. You’ll need to know not only how to brush and floss, but also exactly what and how to eat and drink, in addition to any products you might want to purchase to maintain optimal hygiene.
Most likely, your orthodontist and dental team will prepare you for most of it, but it’s also helpful to have somewhere to review. Of course, if you’re a patient at Jungle Roots, you can always call us with questions or concerns at any time, but we’ve also prepared a brief guide for you to have on hand just for convenience.
This guide will cover the information you’ll need to remember in order to properly care for your braces and teeth while wearing them.
1. Be diligent with hygiene and maintenance. This includes:
When you get braces, you’ll need to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, not just twice a day as usual. Be sure to brush thoroughly before bed as well. This is because braces and brackets have numerous tiny crevices in which food and bacteria can hide and cause problems, especially if it stays on your teeth for a long time.
Cleaning your teeth, braces, and brackets thoroughly.
It is especially important to learn the right brushing and flossing techniques from a dental professional after getting braces put on. So, while you’re at that initial appointment, ask any questions you have and be sure to find out everything you can do to be helpful in your brushing routine.
- One suggestion is to brush gently from top to bottom, then back and forth, then using a circular motion, hitting all the spaces above and beneath the wires.
- Carefully get in between the teeth, and underneath braces, as well as carefully cleaning your braces themselves as well. Be sure you take any removable components off before you start brushing and hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to more easily clean your braces, teeth, and under the gumline.
- Brush until your teeth and braces are completely clean, giving careful attention to each tooth and all surfaces of the teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth as well.
- We highly recommend fluoride-based toothpaste so it can protect your teeth against decay. Xylitol is a great addition to kill cavity causing bacteria.
- Be sure to floss daily in the way we show you. Using a floss threader or platypus flossers may be helpful. Here is a useful video on how to floss with braces. Waxed floss is generally better for brace-wearers, as it doesn’t shred as easily.
- Rinse thoroughly with water after brushing, and then with a fluoride rinse or mouthwash if recommended.
- Keep a travel toothbrush with you at school or work if possible, so that you can continue to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, even when you’re away from home. Consider convenient disposable toothbrushes if they make more sense for your lifestyle.
- If there’s absolutely no chance you can brush your teeth after a meal or snack, make sure to drink plenty of water and rinse your mouth well instead.
- Leave the whitening toothpaste (and any other types of whitening treatments) off your routine for the duration of having braces. Since it can’t whiten underneath the brackets, you’ll wind up with stained teeth after they’re removed.
2. Be careful with your eating/chewing.
- Eat less sugar and you’ll help lessen your risk of developing cavities.
- Avoid acidic and/or sugar-filled drinks such as soda, sports drinks, and juice.
- Snack less, especially when you can’t brush your teeth afterward, and make sure to make positive, healthy choices that won’t harm your teeth, like fresh fruit, veggies, or cheese.
- Avoid hard foods or cut them into bite-size pieces, including crunchy fresh fruit or vegetables like apples and carrots.
- Soft fruits like cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, or grapes
- Soft or cooked vegetables or legumes, like tomatoes or cooked beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes
- Soft grains and breads
- Dairy products including milk, cheese, cottage cheese, string cheese, and yogurt (lactose-intolerant or plant-based eaters can choose oat milk, cashew milk, almond milk, or coconut milk-based products instead)
- Tender meats such as healthily prepared fish, chicken, or lean beef, tofu, or other plant-based meat substitutes, preferably cut up
- Smoothly blended nut spreads of various kinds such as peanut butter, almond butter, etc.
- Smoothies – they allow you to get a wider range of fruit and vegetables without the risk of damaging your braces
- Hard fruits like apples or crunchy pears
- Crunchy veggies like carrots or celery
- Meat that isn’t tender or lean and hasn’t been cut up
- Hard or tough breads like bagels or hard-crust sourdough, as well as small seeds and grains
- Meat eaten off the bone like pork ribs and chicken wings
- Hard nuts and seeds or popcorn
- Sticky, chewy candies. (All candy should be avoided for the majority of your time in braces.)
- Dried fruits
3. Maintaining different kinds of braces, rubber bands, and appliances.
- For ceramic braces, you’ll need to be particularly cautious about staining. Try to avoid foods that stain like black coffee and tea, red wine, blueberries, tomatoes, turmeric, etc. If you do have them, rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth afterward.
- For lingual braces, which require the brackets to be on the back of the teeth instead of the front, you’ll need to be careful chewing. You’ll also need to take special care brushing the backs of your teeth.
- When you have clear aligners, it’s best if you avoid drinking anything except water. If you must drink something else, be sure to remove your aligner and then rinse and/or brush before putting it back in.
- Your treatment may require appliances, and/or rubber bands, including headgear, palatal expanders, temporary anchorage devices (TADs), and other appliances. Be sure to follow any instructions on maintaining or using appliances. The better you comply, the more swiftly and smoothly your orthodontic treatment will go!
- Wear them exactly as instructed, even if they make your mouth a little bit sore at first. They’ve been prescribed for a reason and are essential to the success of your treatment plan. No shortcuts!
- Be sure to keep a few extra rubber bands, or even a whole package, on hand when away from home, in case one breaks or needs to be swapped out.
4. What to do if a wire breaks or bracket comes off.
5. Avoid/give up damaging habits.
- Avoid chewing on items like ice cubes or pencils.
- It is good to stop chewing your nails if you have this habit, as it can damage your braces or wires.
- Don't smoke or use tobacco products. This includes vaping too.
6. A few extra tips:
- If recommended, consider adding fluoride treatments while you’re wearing your braces, just for a little extra protection from cavities.
- Replace your toothbrush frequently. The bristles can wear out faster than usual when you’re wearing braces, so consider replacing your toothbrush at least every three months -- if not sooner. If you don’t think you can remember this, there are toothbrush subscription services available that deliver new toothbrushes to your mailbox at requested intervals.
- Consider an electric toothbrush, as it can more easily remove plaque and food debris stuck in your braces.
- Keep some orthodontic wax on hand for whenever brackets or other components of your braces make your mouth feel sore.
- When participating in sports or other activities during which you might sustain a blow to the face or mouth, don’t forget to wear a mouthguard -- especially if you have braces. Be sure to let us know if you’ll be participating in such activities.
7. Make and keep orthodontic and regular dental appointments.
This is easy to coordinate at Jungle Roots since many of our patients will have both their dentist and their orthodontist under one roof here! We offer:
- Coordinated dental and orthodontic appointments
- Complimentary orthodontic development checks
- Direct communication between Dr. Culp and the entire Jungle Roots treatment team
- Complimentary dental cleanings included with your orthodontic treatment package
For anyone else, please make sure you see your dentist regularly during this time, to keep your teeth clean, monitor for cavities, look for any signs of gum disease, and ensure your mouth stays as healthy as possible.
We’re excited that you chose to get braces and are glad that you trust us to treat you and provide guidance. Now that you’ve learned the basics, you’ve got enough info under your belt to take great care of both your braces and the teeth beneath them. If you have any questions or concerns along the way, don’t hesitate to call us. We’re happy to help you navigate successfully through your journey of having braces!
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.