Caring for Your Braces
Patients who wear braces face additional challenges taking care of their teeth. On this page we have collected useful information about how you can best care for your braces. Click on any of the following headings to jump directly to that section.
Parts of Braces
Care & Use of Appliances
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Foods to Avoid:
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.