Home Care

Taking care of your teeth throughout the day is always important, but oral hygiene and maintenance takes on a new meaning for everyone undergoing orthodontic treatment, regardless of the method being used to move your teeth.
Click here for some tips for taking care of your teeth.

Your Life in Braces

If you have any orthodontic appliances cemented in your mouth, be it traditional braces, appliances with bands, lingual braces, or fixed retainers, you MUST change WHAT you eat and HOW you eat.

  • BRUSH IN CIRCLES (not just back and forth!) for 2 minutes with a soft tooth brush, ideally after ever meal. Turn your wrist so that the tooth brush bristles can reach under your gums and remove the plaque stuck in all the nooks and crannies around brackets or attachments
  • USE A MOUTH RINSE WITH FLUORIDE as an active ingredient once a day. Swish it around in your mouth for 30-60 seconds.  Spit it out and then DO NOT rinse with water, eat, or drink anything for 30 minutes.  Fluoride rinses work by releasing fluoride ions onto your tooth enamel.  The ions integrate into the crystal structure of your enamel, making it stronger and thus more resistant to decay from acid, a byproduct of the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth and eat the food you eat.
  • FLOSS!! FLOSS!!  FLOSS!! Yes, it bears repeating.  Do your gums bleed when you floss?  Then floss MORE, not less!  Flossing is not just an in-and-out affair.  To properly floss, or mechanically remove food debris and bacteria from in between your teeth, you have to make sure the floss goes to the depth of the gum on each side of the tooth.  If the floss can reach an area, bacteria and food can too.  Hug each tooth with the floss in the shape of a C and imagine in your mind’s eye that you are brushing the in-between tooth surfaces with the dental floss, since your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • PUFFY RED GUMS? See the FLOSS! bullet point above.  In addition, consider alternating your fluoride rinse routine with use of an oral rinse with anti-bacterial agents that kill the germs that cause gingivitis and grow plaque biofilms.  Healthy gums are PINK, not RED and ANGRY

Foods to Avoid While Anything Foreign is Cemented in Your Mouth:

  • Candy
  • Hard Candy
  • Sticky Candy
  • Chewy/Gooey Candy (like taffy or caramel or starburtst or skittles)
  • Nuts
  • Hard granola bars
  • Hard crust in bread or pizza
  • Meat eaten off a bone
  • Jerky
  • Corn eaten off a cob
  • Popcorn (unpopped kernels are insidious)
  • Chips, hard pretzels
  • Raw vegetables like carrots

Foods to Enjoy While Undergoing Orthodontic treatment

  • Anything not listed above: soft bread, cereals, cooked vegetables, soft vegetables, yogurt, smoothies, rice, pasta, ice cream, cake…
  • When in doubt, take small bites of soft food with a sip of water to soften it and chew slowly, you will get the hang of it in a few days.

Soreness and Discomfort

  • It is normal for your teeth to feel achy after new forces are placed on them for the first time. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you work muscles that haven’t been stressed or exercised intensely for a while. Or, perhaps it can be compared to breaking in a new pair of shoes. You may get a blister here and there at first but you put a bandaid on, your skin gets used to the new shoe, and in a few days the shoe fits like a glove! (Ha!) Soreness WILL go away and you WILL get used to your new appliances.
  • Warm salt water rinses work wonders! If you have sore spots in your mouth, take a teaspoon of salt mixed in a cup of warm water until it’s dissolved. Swish it around in your mouth for several seconds, then spit. Repeat. You will be amazed at how something so simple is so effective!
  • Take Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Take these before your appointment so that it is already in your system before your visit, they are very effective!
  • Wax, OrthoDots, or GishyGoo can be placed over whatever is irritating your soft tissue. Be sure to dry off the part of the appliance digging into you first with a cotton swab, roll the wax in between your fingers to soften it, then gently press it into the area offending your gums/cheek.

Loose Teeth, Different Bite, One Tooth That Feels “Off” All of a Sudden

  • In orthodontic treatment we are literally moving your teeth through bone. They have to get a little mobile for us to move them. This is normal!
  • Your bite is in a dynamic state during treatment, sometimes it will have to feel worse before it feels better, again, this is normal.
  • Some teeth feel forces differently at times during treatment. As long as the discomfort goes away within a week or two, there is nothing to worry about.
  • If you have severe pain that does not go away after a few days and with Advil/Tylenol, please call the office so we can have everything checked out. You should not have *severe* and *persistent* pain while undergoing orthodontic treatment, that is NOT NORMAL.

Your Life in Clear Aligners

There are three rules to treatment with Clear Aligners:

1. Wear them 22 hours a day 90% of the time.
2. Don’t Eat or Drink anything other than flat water with aligners in.
3. Brush or at least rinse with water after eating/drinking BEFORE putting aligners back in.

It is normal for the first few days of aligner treatment to be challenging. It can be a slobbery and awkward affair to put them in and take them out. You may have a slight lisp for a few days. Don’t worry, it gets better and you will get used to them.

Cleaning aligners

  • Clean your aligners every time you brush your teeth.
  • Clean them with liquid soap (dish or hand) and a separate soft tooth brush.
  • Do not use toothpaste to clean your aligners, tooth paste often has hard pumice particles that will scratch the aligners and cause them to retain bacteria and staining.

Keep your previous aligners

  • Sometimes aligners get lost and you go a few days without wearing them. Your teeth may shift backwards and you may need to find the best fitting previous aligner to move on from there.

Use Chewies

  • Do the chewing exercises every day for 5-10 minutes to help your aligners fully seat around your teeth.
  • Bite on the chewie, holding 3-5 seconds. Then move to a different area of the mouth and bite and hold again for 3-5 seconds.

Caring for your Aligners

  • For the 2 hours a day they are not in your mouth, your aligners should be in your protective case. Not in a napkin. Not at the bottom of your gym bag. Not in your pocket. In the case.
  • Keep aligners away from little kids and pets. Damage will happen.
  • Keep your aligners away from heat (boiling water, microwaves, dishwashers, heaters, fire, etc.) They are plastic, they will disform in heat.

If you lose an Aligner

  • If you are just 2-3 days from moving to your next aligner, move to your next aligner and wear it the remaining time due to the lost aligner plus the full amount it was needed to wear the next aligner.
  • When in doubt, call or email the office, we will tell you what to do based on your specific situation.

What to do When…

Fortunately, true emergencies in orthodontics are very rare. Usually the emergencies involve trauma to the face/teeth that partially dislodge an appliance making it extremely difficult or painful for the patient to eat, speak, and function normally. Please call the office if this is the case.

Here are the other things that commonly happen while in treatment:

  • LOOSE BRACKET: Breakage happens. It’s not urgent to fix it, place wax on the loose bracket if the now moving bracket bothers your teeth and call the office so we can arrange for a comfort appointment to fix it as needed.
  • LOOSE BAND: With gentle finger pad pressure, press the band back around the tooth. Eat soft, non-sticky foods. Call the office and we will arrange for a comfort visit to fix it as needed.
  • POKING WIRE: If you recently got your braces, you are in a thin flexible wire that can be cut with a nail clipper. Place wax around the poking wire, use the warm salt water rinses, if it doesn’t get better in a day or two, call the office to arrange a comfort visit.
  • SORE IN MOUTH: Place wax over the appliance that is digging into your mouth. Take Advil. Call the office and arrange a comfort visit.
  • CLEAR ALIGNER ATTACHMENT COMES OFF: If one or two attachments come off, do not worry. Call the office, let us know the attachments came off. Most likely we will tell you to wait until your next visit and we will replace them then. If more than two attachments come off, please call the office and arrange a time for an extra appointment at your convenience (not urgent!) to replace the attachments.