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Life with Braces

Teen girl with bracesIf you just got your braces and are wondering what to expect, here are a few tips and insights that will help you get started! Orthodontic treatment is a team effort involving the doctor, the orthodontic team, and the patient. You need to do your part in achieving our goals. If you keep your regular appointments, follow our hygiene guidelines, wear your elastics and appliances properly, and avoid the “Forbidden Foods” listed below, you will be on the path to a beautiful new smile in no time!


Young girl holding cheek in pain

When you first get your braces, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender when biting down for three to five days. Your cheeks, tongue, and lips may also feel sore and raw from the new hardware. The good news is that usually in two to three weeks the soft tissues toughen up and the irritation will go away. You can use orthodontic wax on the parts that feel irritating, or a mild salt water rinse (one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, 2-3 times a day) will also help the healing.  If the tenderness is severe, take Tylenol as you would normally take it for headaches or similar pain.

Loosening of Teeth

Child wiggling loose tooth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. As the initial movement of your teeth begins, your teeth loosen up first so they can be moved into their new, corrected position.

Foods to Avoid

Table filled with foods that damage braces

For the first few days, eating will be more difficult than usual - take your time!  Try to avoid foods that require a lot of chewing, such as tough meats, hard bread, and uncooked vegetables.  You may find it easier to eat softer foods, such as soups, pasta, and potatoes. 

Hard, sticky, chewy, and brittle foods and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard and brittle foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky and chewy foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil, and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.

 Forbidden Foods:

  • Hard Foods:  ice, nuts, & hard candies
  • Sticky Foods:  gum, caramels & taffy
  • Chewy Foods:  jerky, licorice & gummy bears
  • Crunchy Foods:  tortilla chips and popcorn
  • Corn on the cob (unless cut off the cob)
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces or shredded)
  • Hard bread, pizza crust

Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Patient with braces brushing teeth

It is very important to brush after every time you eat and at bedtime (two minutes each time) and to floss once a day.  Keeping your teeth and gums healthy means a healthy bite and beautiful smile at the end of treatment. Did you know that consistently average to poor oral hygiene can actually slow down tooth movement?  We all know plaque leads to tartar and cavities, but before it gets that far, your gums react by turning red and puffy.  When this happens, your teeth will have more tissue to move through.  This takes longer and requires more force.  Healthy teeth and gums will also make your adjustments more comfortable, and efficient.

Please continue to see your dentist and hygienist for routine cleanings.

Athletes and Musicians

Kids playing soccer

Athletes:  If you play sports, please notify our office so that we can determine the need for a protective mouth guard.  Special mouthguards are required when playing full contact sports. If you should encounter any accident involving a blow to the face, mouth, and teeth, please examine your mouth and braces immediately.  Please call our office if the teeth are loosened or there is any damaged or breakage to your braces.

Musicians:  The advice from all our wind and horn instrument players is: Don’t shy away from practicing.  Braces can affect your proper lip position (embouchure) and practice will decrease your adjustment period.  Also, sores can develop, but using wax and salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks adjust.