When you think of braces, you probably think of metal braces – these are the most commonly used type of braces. While today’s metal braces are sleeker and more comfortable than ever before, one thing remains the same – they are highly effective and efficient at guiding your teeth to their ideal locations.

Self-ligating braces utilize brackets and wires just like traditional metal braces, but there is one important difference. Rather than using tiny elastics to hold the archwire in place, self-ligating brackets utilize a slide mechanism. This places less friction on the teeth, resulting in a more comfortable experience.

Clear braces are created to blend in better with your natural smile. The brackets are made of either clear or tooth colored ceramic material, offering a lower profile for your orthodontic treatment.

Clear aligners offer the most discreet way to straighten your teeth. This system uses a series of clear, removable aligners made of a comfortable plastic that fit directly over your teeth. Each set is perfectly calibrated to achieve a certain movement, with the end result being your ideal smile.

What to know during braces treatment

Wearing braces should never be painful, but in the beginning your mouth may feel a bit sore. Stick to a diet of soft foods until your mouth has gotten used to your braces. If you use standard metal braces, clear braces or self-ligating braces for your treatment, you will need to make some modifications to your diet during your treatment time in order to avoid damage to your brackets and wires. Avoid foods that are too hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy.

  • Foods to avoid include:
  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces may cause treatment to take longer.

Modifications can be made to your favorite foods during treatment. If corn on the cob is a favorite, you can cut the corn off the cob. Apples can be cut into bite-sized pieces, and carrots can be cooked slightly to make them less crunchy. If you ever have questions about your diet, we are always here to help.

If you opt for clear aligners, the good news is you can still enjoy all of your favorite foods. Just pop the aligners out whenever you eat or drink anything other than water.

You may experience some soreness and tenderness in the first few days after beginning orthodontic treatment. This is normal and shouldn’t last more than three to five days. Many patients find relief in warm saltwater rinses, or by using a mild over-the-counter pain medicine. Cold compresses, as well as cold foods and drinks can offer relief, as well.

If you have irritation on the inside of your mouth caused by your appliance, use orthodontic wax on any offending areas.

Many patients express the feeling of loose teeth during treatment. If you feel this, that means the treatment is working! In order to move to their new locations, your teeth have to first loosen from their current locations. But don’t worry, that feeling won’t last forever. Once treatment is complete, your retainer will help hold your teeth in their new places as the become affixed.

During the course of your treatment, it’s not uncommon for a wire or band to become loose. Don’t worry! If a wire is protruding and is irritating the inside of your mouth, use a blunt instrument (the eraser end of a pencil works great!) to gently push the wire back under the archwire. If irritation continues, you can use wax or wet cotton on the wire. Be sure you call our office to schedule an appointment so we can correct the issue for you.

In order for your treatment to stay on track and finish in a timely manner, it is important that you follow all care directions given by your orthodontist. Your treatment can only be successful if you do your part. That means wearing your rubber bands, headgear or aligner trays as prescribed, and taking good care of your appliances and your teeth. Failing to do so can lengthen treatment time.

Orthodontic treatment will be the most effective when done on healthy teeth. It’s more important than ever to take care of your teeth and gums while you’re in braces. Your braces will create a lot of nooks and crannies for food particles to become stuck, so it is important to take extra time when brushing and flossing. Patients who are not diligent about their oral care while in braces may require more frequent visits to their dentists. If you are an adult patient who has a history of gum disease, it may be wise to see a periodontist while in treatment to ensure your gum disease is kept at bay to ensure an ideal final result.

Wearing braces doesn’t need to prevent you from doing things you love, but you may need to take some extra precautions, especially if you are an athlete. A blow to the face or mouth can be even more damaging while in braces, so we recommend all athletes who play contact sports or are involved in any activity where a blow to the face could occur wear a properly fitting mouthguard.