Life during orthodontic treatment will include periodic visits to the orthodontist, possibly some minor changes in diet for the duration of treatment, and more frequent toothbrushing along with daily flossing. It’s critical that you continue seeing your family dentist during orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will provide professional cleanings and check-ups, and like your orthodontist, will keep an eye on oral health. Visit your dentist at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended.
Your orthodontist will give specific instructions, but in general, you should brush for two minutes after every meal or snack, and before bed. Carry a travel toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste with you so you can brush when you’re away from home. Bring along floss and an interproximal brush, too. If you’re in a pinch and absolutely are not in a position to brush after eating or drinking at the very least rinse with plain water. It can help you get rid of some food particles or traces of beverages.
Flossing is crucial to successful orthodontic treatment, and to on-going oral health. Flossing removes plaque from parts of your teeth that brushing alone can’t reach, and should be done at least once a day. Plaque is the enemy – it’s the source of disease processes in teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing keep teeth and gums clean by removing plaque and food debris. When plaque and trapped food are left on the teeth and around braces, the outcome can be cavities, swollen gums, bad breath and permanent white marks on the teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene helps to minimize your time in treatment, and contributes to a healthy result.
If a bracket or wire comes loose, or if you lose or break an aligner, let your orthodontist know right away. Broken braces cannot deliver the right forces to move your teeth, and that could prolong treatment. Aligners should be worn in a particular sequence. Your orthodontist is the best person to call for advice about next steps, and to advise whether a lost aligner will extend your treatment time.
If your orthodontist recommends that you use elastics as part of your orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign®, it’s important that you follow these tips:
DO – Get in the habit of carrying around extra elastics and replace them as soon as possible if one breaks or is lost. By consistently wearing the elastics you will ensure that your orthodontic treatment is always progressing.
DON’T – Double up on elastics (unless specified by the orthodontist) as this may cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the roots of the tooth.
DO – Always wash your hands before removing or replacing the elastics.
DON’T – Overstretch the rubber band or it will lose its strength and it will be ineffective.
DO – Call your orthodontist if you run out of rubber bands. Your orthodontist will normally provide you with plenty of elastics to keep you stocked up and will happily provide you with more if needed. Make note of the type of elastics you are wearing (they have different names and sizes on the packet) so you know what to ask for if you run out.
Elastics are a key part of orthodontic treatment and learning how to remove and replace them is an important part of the process for most patients undergoing braces or Invisalign® treatment. Before your orthodontist sets you on your journey to a perfect smile, they will make sure you understand all there is to know about this aspect of your treatment as the need for elastic wear will vary greatly from one person to another.
While you have braces it’s important to maintain a balanced diet for the health of your teeth. Of course, a healthy diet is always important, but eating too many sugary foods with braces can lead to plaque build-up around your brackets that could permanently stain or damage your teeth. Avoiding foods like popcorn, corn on the cob, chewing gum, whole apples, and other sticky foods is also a good idea.
You are encouraged to enjoy a variety of healthful, easy-to-chew foods during orthodontic treatment. Soups, stews, casseroles, pasta, scrambled eggs and smoothies can be good choices. You can enjoy fresh fruits like apples and pears, but they should be sliced rather than bitten into. Similarly, sandwiches and pizza are OK, but they should be cut into bite-sized pieces.