Caring for Your Braces

Parts of Braces

Appliance

Anything the orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move your teeth or change the shape of your jaw.

Archwire

A metal wire that is attached to your brackets to move your teeth.

Bands

Bands are a ring of metal, which fit around the molars and sometimes premolars. The bands are selected from a range of sizes in order to find the tightest fitting band. The bands are sealed in position using dental cement that contains fluoride in order to prevent any decalcification during treatment.

Brackets

Brackets are the small metal or ceramic modules attached to each tooth. They serve as guides to move the teeth and hold the archwire in place.

Buccal Tube

A buccal tube is a small metal part that is welded on the outside of a molar band. The molar band contains slots to hold archwires, lip bumpers, facebows and other things your orthodontist uses to move your teeth.

Chain

A stretchable plastic chain is used to hold archwires into brackets and to move teeth.

Elastics

Elastics or rubber bands for braces help move the upper and lower teeth relative to each other, ultimately achieving a better bite. The orthodontic rubber bands are typically effective for correcting overbites, under bites, or other types of alignments of the jaw. They are also useful for moving a tooth out of alignment or to close a space in the mouth.

Essix Retainer

The Essix retainer is made of clear durable plastic and snaps into place over your teeth. Once placed, your teeth and gums show through the plastic, making the retainers appear nearly invisible. The Essix retainer is used to maintain your orthodontic results.

Fixed Retainer

Fixed retainers consist of a metal wire bonded to the back of the teeth. Fixed retainers can stay in place indefinitely.

Herbst Appliance

A Herbst appliance is designed to correct bites and improve facial profiles.

Ligating Module

A small plastic piece, shaped like a donut, which is used to hold the archwires in the brackets on your teeth.

Mouth Guard

A device that is used to protect your mouth from injury when you are participating in sports. The use of a mouth guard is especially important for orthodontic patients to prevent injuries.

Palatal Expander

An appliance used to help widen your upper jaw or palate.

Removable Retainer

An appliance that the orthodontist gives you to wear after your braces are removed. The retainer attaches to your upper and/or lower teeth and holds them in the correct position while your jaw hardens and your teeth get strongly attached to your jaw. At first you wear the retainer 24 hours a day, and then only at night.

Separators

Separators are tiny rubber bands or springs that your orthodontist places between your back teeth. These separators prepare your mouth for braces by creating a small gap between these teeth. This space allows for the placement of a metal band around your molar, which anchors your braces in your mouth.

Wax

A clear wax used to prevent braces from irritating your lips or cheeks when your braces are first put on, or at other times.

Care & Use of Appliances

ALF Appliance

The ALF appliance is made of a light, highly flexible wire that corrects the cranial strain and enhances the rhythmical movement of the skull bones. It is bonded to the back of the teeth.

Damon® Brackets

Damon passive self-ligating braces eliminate the need for elastic or metal 'ties'. With Damon tie-less braces you can experience treatment without tightening. Brush your teeth as you would normally, concentrating on brushing around the brackets and the gums.

Elastics

Attaching your elastics may seem hard initially. However, with little time and patience, you will be able to accomplish your task easily. Elastic wear must be constant to be effective – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless otherwise indicated. You may remove the elastics only when eating your meals or brushing your teeth. Be sure to replace the elastics with new ones immediately following mealtime and brushing. Part-time wear does not move teeth, but it does cause them to be constantly sore.

Herbst Appliance

This appliance is usually attached using stainless steel crowns. Metal side bars and some front braces are often part of the appliance. Some appliances may have an expansion screw in the middle of the palate to help widen the upper jaw. When brushing, clean carefully around the crowns, pistons and screws. If possible, floss between your gums and the lower arm of the appliance.

Quad Helix

The quad helix is checked and expanded approximately once every six to eight weeks. After the expansion is complete, the quad helix will remain in the mouth until the expansion is stable. Patients may feel mild discomfort for a couple of days. The tongue and cheeks have to make adjustments to the new appliance. Speaking and eating will require patience and time getting used to your appliance. Avoid hard foods and sticky foods. You will be able to clean your teeth and quad helix with your regular toothbrush.

Retainers

For lasting success from orthodontic treatment, wear your retainer as prescribed. Don't let your retainer get bent or otherwise damaged. Call for a repair appointment if your retainer is damaged or loosened. Keep your retainer clean, brush it regularly. Keep your retainer in its case when not being worn.

Schwarz Appliance

The Schwarz appliance is adjusted daily, as instructed, until the palate is widened enough. It is then left in place for about four months without further adjustment while the bone and palate heal. If bonded, brush it as you would your teeth. If removable, take it out and brush it with your toothbrush and toothpaste, being sure to clean it well.

Separators

Separators are usually placed between the molars one week prior to fitting braces. The separators may cause slight discomfort for a few hours. They gently wedge the back teeth apart to make it easier to cement the back bands. Do not eat any sticky foods or remove the separators.

Hygiene & Diet

Having a clean mouth is important. It makes you feel good about yourself. It gives you fresh breath and a nicer-looking smile. Since childhood, you've probably heard that brushing and flossing your teeth daily are necessary for good dental health, but like many people, you may not be sure why. Brushing and flossing removes a thin sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth. This sticky film, called plaque, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.

Brushing & Flossing

It is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Eating with Braces

Foods that cannot be cleaned off of the braces may lead to discoloration and decay of your teeth. Even though our braces and wires are metal, they are fragile and are usually damaged by eating the wrong foods, thus taking us longer to finish your treatment.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Absolutely no gum – sugarless or otherwise
  • 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 or carrots

Also avoid nail-biting and pen- or pencil-chewing habits.

Minimize Sugar Intake
Eat much less candy, cookies, cake, pie, ice cream and foods with sugar. Drink much less soda pop and drinks with sugar.

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