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Life with Braces or Invisalign

Some dos, some don’ts, and a lot of hope

Life with Braces or Invisalign
So you've taken the step. You have braces or Invisalign aligners. How do you keep your treatment on track and your appliance in good shape? We'll tell you.

Braces and eating
For starters you'll need to avoid a few tempting items while you're wearing braces. We know it's tough, but the short term pain of saying "no" to sticky and hard foods will protect your braces. These types of foods really can hurt your braces, which often means having to wear them longer.

Good news, if you're wearing Invisalign aligners, simply remove your aligners to eat and enjoy whatever food you want. Just be sure to brush after every meal and put your aligners back on. You can skip down to “What if my teeth feel loose” below.

But if you opted for traditional braces, read on carefully.

No-no foods and habits to avoid while in braces

  • Chewy foods - Think licorice, bagels, etc.
  • Sticky foods - Caramel and other sticky candies
  • Crunchy foods - Ice (bad to chew with or without braces), chips, popcorn
  • Hard foods - Whole apples, nuts, croutons, corn on the cob, raw carrots
  • Foods that are "big" - If food can't be cut into smaller pieces, avoid it
  • Bad habits - Chewing pens, biting your nails, opening stuff with your teeth

Don't worry. You can still eat...

  • Breads - pancakes, muffins, soft tortillas
  • Dairy - Milk, pudding, yogurt, any soft cheese
  • Grains - Rice and pasta
  • Seafood - Salmon, crab cakes, tuna, etc.
  • Meats/poultry - Tender chicken, lunch meats, meatballs
  • Cooked veggies - Spinach, beans, mashed potatoes
  • Treats - Milkshakes, cake, Jell-O, ice cream
  • Fruits - Think soft (bananas, juice, apple sauce)
  • Gum - Make sure it's sugarless

Will my braces or appliance always cause soreness?
It takes a while for teeth to adjust to braces or a new appliance. A little soreness at first is perfectly normal. Don't worry. The discomfort and soreness goes away.

In the meantime, to reduce this pain, just dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup (8 oz) of gently warmed water. Use this salt water like you would mouthwash: gargling, swishing, and moving it around your mouth. Keep it up for a few minutes for best results.

Oh, and don't swallow. Yikes.

Severe Pain
If you're dealing with persistent pain that doesn't go away when you do the above, an over the counter pain reliever may help. Don't be surprised if you also experience irritated cheeks, lips, or tongue while getting used to your braces. They'll toughen up in a week or two.

We can also supply you with a wax that you can apply to your braces to make them a bit more comfortable to wear in those early days.

What if I have a loose wire or band?
Sometimes the wires or bands on your braces come loose. If you experience this, get in touch with us ASAP. We'll need to check your braces and possibly repair them. Be sure to save any pieces that fall off and bring them in with you to the office.

Looking for a temporary fix while you wait for your appointment? Use the back of a spoon or a pencil eraser to very carefully ease the wire back into its proper spot. Feel free to use a little wax on the loose wire to prevent irritation to your mouth.

What if my teeth feel loose?
We get this one all the time. If your teeth begin to feel a little loose, good! That's what is supposed to happen. Your braces are designed to first slightly loosen your teeth before guiding them into the correct position. This looseness goes away once your teeth have been properly repositioned.

Doing your part
Make sure your braces or other orthodontic appliance is always in good working order. This is a sure-fire way to keep your treatment on track. So is complying with your doctor's treatment guidelines if you're using Invisalign appliances or retainers. Infrequent wear produces inconsistent results.

Braces and Athletics
Are you an athlete? No worries. You can play sports with braces or Invisalign.

We recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your braces or other orthodontic appliance. Your doctor should be able to recommend a great one.

If you do have a dental emergency in the course of your athletics, check your mouth carefully. Loose or damaged teeth or appliance damage mean you should immediately contact Smart Orthodontic Group. Treat discomfort with wax and salt water rinsing.