Are you learning to live with a new set of dental braces? If so, you’ve got company. Braces are frequently used to treat a wide range of oral health issues, in addition to straightening smiles. In fact, braces are a treatment option for everything from chronic cavities caused by misaligned teeth to joint pressure from malocclusion of the jaw. So it’s no surprise that braces are a popular treatment option, especially among teens and young adults.
Modern braces are much more user-friendly than their predecessors, but you should still expect an adjustment period when you first get your braces. You may have some general pain or tenderness, and will likely have trouble eating certain types of food. The good news is that these initial issues will subside over time, especially if you follow our tips for learning to love your new set of braces.
Adjusting to Your New Braces
The biggest adjustments come in the first few weeks after you get your braces. Your teeth, lips, and gums need to get used to the presence of your braces, so some pain and irritation is to be expected. Any pain you’re experiencing will subside over time, and you can take steps to minimize any issues that come up during the adjustment process.
- Be careful what you eat. Your teeth will be tender in the very beginning, so stick to soft food only. After a day or two, you can move on to more solid food. Try to avoid especially tough or chewy food, like chewing gum or steak, as they can damage your braces and cause irritation.
- Rinsing your mouth with a salt-water solution (one teaspoon salt mixed with eight ounces of warm water) will help alleviate early pain and tenderness. Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for lasting pain, but be sure to ask your dentist first if there could be concerns with allergies or prescription medication drug interactions.
- Once your mouth has adjusted, you’ll be able to eat most of the foods you know and love. Speak with your dentist to learn more about which dietary choices best fit your unique needs.
- You may notice that your teeth feel loose, especially during the early months of having braces. It might feel a little strange, but it’s perfectly normal. Braces are designed to move your teeth, and they’ll feel solid again once they’re moved into the correct position.
Caring for Your Braces
Taking good care of your braces will help minimize complications and maximize the effectiveness of your treatment. It’s important to clean your braces soon after you eat, so start by putting together a cleaning kit that you can carry when you’re out of the house. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a small mirror to check your braces when you’re finished cleaning.
- Clean your teeth and braces regularly, and be sure to do a thorough job. Brush after meals, in addition to the normal brushing times in the morning and before bed.
- If you’re involved in sports or play a musical instrument, make sure you have the proper protective gear. Special mouth guards are required to keep these recreational activities from damaging your mouth and braces.
- Always bring your retainer case with you, and put your retainer away whenever you eat. Retainers are expensive to replace, and are most commonly lost after eating.
- If your braces, wires, or rubber bands are damaged, don’t try to fix them yourself. Use wax to blunt any sharp edges, and speak with your dentist about the problem as soon as possible.
Braces have become an increasingly common treatment option for adults, as well, and the care instructions are the same regardless of age. The important thing to remember is that caring for your braces properly isn’t just about comfort. It also ensures that your treatment takes as little time as possible. The initial adjustment is a big one, but you’ll get much more comfortable with your braces as time passes. When the time to remove your braces arrives, you’ll see firsthand that the results are more than worth the effort.
Loreen Wong Dentistry is your trusted dental clinic in downtown Calgary. From braces to checkups and everything in between, we offer the dental services you need to keep your mouth healthy and happy.