Life With Braces

Where Do I Start?

colored bandsAs soon as you get your braces put on, you will probably want to stick to soft foods. As teeth start to move, your teeth are likely to be a little tender, and soft foods will make things feel like normal more quickly. Definitely avoid hard breads and raw vegetables, like carrots. Before long, you'll be able to bite into a cucumber again. But as long as you're wearing braces, you'll need to protect them while you eat.

Here is a list of foods to avoid while you're in braces:

  • Hard chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, hard licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice
  • Sticky foods: caramels, chewy candy (like Starburst), certain types of gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, hard candy (like Jolly Ranchers)
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots*

* If you want to eat foods you would ordinarily bite into, you still can! Just cut the food into pieces first, and place it in the back of your mouth. So cut the corn off the cob, and cut carrots and apples into small pieces rather than biting off a mouthful! Biting normally into hard foods like these is a sure way to damage your braces.

Lastly, chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils, cell phone antennas) can damage braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer, and the result to be less than optimal. Many "emergency" appointments to repair damaged braces can be avoided merely by staying away from problem foods.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel some general soreness in your mouth. It is normal for your teeth to be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. To feel better, you may rinse your mouth with a warm salt water mouthrinse. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is more uncomfortable, take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen), or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain.

You should expect that your lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to your new braces. The warm salt water rinses help with this also. Orthodontic wax can be placed on any rough surfaces until your mouth has gotten used to the new braces.

Wax should also be used if there are any poking wires, or if any brackets come loose and become irritating. Wax is an easy fix for nearly every type of sore your braces may cause. Remember to keep in mind that as your mouth becomes more used to the braces, your reliance on wax will reduce greatly.

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It is completely normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved in the right direction. In fact, it is usual for teeth to be somewhat loose the entire time you are in braces. When the braces are removed, the teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new, straight positions.

Compliance with Treatment

To achieve the best result, it is very important that you do your part to successfully transform your smile. Coming in for regularly-scheduled adjustments and following instructions carefully help ensure the desired outcome. Making sure to wear rubber bands and appliances as directed is the key to achieving a sensational smile. Avoid delays in treatment by staying away from foods that will damage your braces and appliances.

Keeping Things Clean

colored bandsIt is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces!! This is one of the only ways to ensure that the teeth and gums will be healthy after your orthodontic treatment is complete. Try to brush at least three times per day, and take your time! We recommend that our patients rinse nightly with ACT Rinse or Phos-Flur, special flouride rinses that add strength and hardness to the teeth while they are in braces. Phos-flur has been clinically proven to reduce decalcification (white-spot lesions) by 58%!

Regular and frequent visits to the dentist are extremely important during orthodontic treatment. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Schaefer recommend that each patient see his or her pediatric or family dentist at least once every six months, or more frequently under certain circumstances.


If you play sports, it's important that you consult us for special precautions. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Schaefer almost always recommend a protective mouthguard for athletic activities. Edwards and Schaefer Orthodontics has a variety of mouth guards that work especially well with braces.

Injuries during sports are common. Most of the time, minor bumps and bruises are not a problem. Many injuries, however, can be made worse if braces are involved. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or appliances are severely damaged, contact us or your dentist immediately.

What if I get a Loose Wire, Bracket, or Band?

Don't be alarmed if something comes loose. This happens occasionally. Always save loose brackets and bring them in for your repair. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (like the eraser end of a pencil) and gently push the irritating wire out of the way. Sometimes you can cut a loose wire with heavy duty nail clippers. Alternatively, wax may be placed over any sharp or poking wires. If any piece comes off entirely, please save it and bring it with you to the office so that we know what it was that happened.

If something comes loose, it is not an emergency; however, please call our office and we will assess the situation and advise accordingly. Many repairs can be taken care of by adding time to the next scheduled appointment if it is not too far in the future.