Congratulations on getting your braces! You’re one step closer to achieving a beautiful, healthy smile. At the start, adjusting to braces can feel overwhelming as you adapt to changes in speech, eating habits, and oral hygiene routines. Here are some common questions from our braces patients, along with tips and tricks to make your journey easier and more beneficial.
We receive many questions from new braces patients and parents wondering if the fitting of braces is an uncomfortable procedure. The ‘procedure’ itself is not uncomfortable, but over the next few days it isn’t uncommon to experience some of the following:
Remember, the initial discomfort or inconvenience of having braces improves rapidly within a week or two, so hang in there. Being aware of the above information contributes to a more positive experience with us at Smiles & Faces Orthodontics.
It is best to do this checking with something you do daily ie: brushing your teeth. The best time to do this self-checking of braces is AFTER brushing your teeth at night. Most people find they have more time at night than in the morning.
If you suspect a bracket or tie (coloured band placed around the bracket) is loose or broken, use your finger and push with gentle pressure: See if you can slide the bracket along the wire or touch the bracket and see if it shifts.
If you are eating and hear a ‘crack’ noise it can mean the bracket has detached from the tooth. Clean your teeth and inspect in a mirror and as above, if it slides along the wire, the bracket is most likely loose. Paying particular care with your diet is important. You may be surprised about some foods to avoid during braces. Click here to find out more.
If you identify any of these, you should stop wearing elastic bands (if you are) and call our practice at 02-8814-9941 where our friendly staff will manage your concerns and help you decide if we need to schedule your appointment sooner.
Sometimes during eating, cleaning or brushing your teeth, the metal tie around braces may move or become displaced. This may cause discomfort or irritation to your lips or cheeks.
To manage this you can:
If you do not feel confident doing this, place wax on top of the poking metal tie and make an appointment so we can fix it for you.
Brushing with braces is best done with an extra soft manual toothbrush. Gently brush above the braces close to the gum line, and then below the braces close to the edge of the tooth in small circular motion. Remember to brush the inside surfaces of all the teeth with the toothbrush half on the teeth and half on the gums. This should take 4-5minutes in total.
Cleaning around the braces, brushing is only half the job done. Cleaning properly between your braces will remove food and bacteria, keeping your breath fresh and teeth clean. Size 6 (Greenbpiksters) tend to be the perfect fit between the braces.
Flossing with braces can be difficult and little more time-consuming. The simplest way is to use ‘Superfloss’. It has a stiffer end which enables you to easily thread it above the wire of your braces. Once you have achieved this, you are able to floss normally.
Ideally, we aim to have the floss string 1-2mm under the gum line. You may notice some bleeding, please don’t think bleeding gums means you should stop flossing! Bleeding gums is an early sign of gum disease, so flossing is most important!
Handy tips for extra protection: After brushing keep some of the frothy toothpaste in your mouth and swish it in between all your teeth (like a mouth rinse) for 1 minute. Spit out the excess and refrain from rinsing with water afterwards. The fluoride in the toothpaste will help to strengthen and protect the teeth from getting white marks around the braces.
And a video for good measure:
Disclosing tablets contain red vegetable dye that reveals dental plaque left on your teeth by turning it a bright pink colour temporarily. By using these chewable tablets after you brush and floss, you can see the areas that you’re missing. They help improve your brushing pattern and technique.
It does take longer for children and teenagers to clean their teeth during orthodontic treatment. Using the disclosing tablets help to identify areas that are missing by showing these areas up bright pink.
We find new braces patients find it very helpful to use during the first week or so after the braces are fitted. It’s also not a bad idea to do it every fortnight to do a quick self-assessment to ensure no areas are getting missed. It is also a great objective way for parents to check their kids brushing, rather than simply nagging them!
An important point to note: If you have clear outside braces, these can temporarily stain the clear rubber ties a pinkish tinge, so these disclosing tablets are best used close to your orthodontic adjustment appointments when these rubber ties will be replaced with new ones.
Ultimately if you are getting bleeding while brushing or flossing, it is the tell-tail sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of your gums when brushing has not been effective for a couple of days. It causes the gums to look irritated, red, swollen and easily bleed on brushing.
The best treatment for gingivitis is meticulous cleaning atleast twice a day. After 5-10 days of effective and thorough brushing, flossing and using piksters, your gums will shrink back and return to health.
As well as brushing, other methods of cleaning your teeth include flossing and using the green piksters. Green piksters are most effective when used daily and bent at a 90 degree angle and used beneath the wire and pushed against the brace, as illustrated in the picture. It is difficult to brush the front of your teeth very well, especially since the wire acts as a physical obstruction, hence the need and effectiveness of these green piksters.
If you experience any discomort or irritation from your braces, you can apply some Orthodontic Wax to the brace or section of the wire until we can see you for an appointment. In order to do this, pull apart a small pea sized amount of orthodontic wax, roll it into a ball shape and press lightly onto the bracket or wire which is giving you trouble. This wax is provided free for braces patients of our practice! Just ask us at your next appointment.
If the discomfort persists, please let somebody know at your next appointment, or call for an earlier appointment.
The green piksters can be purchased from our practice (if you are a patient of our practice), or alternatively can find them at any chemist, Woolworths or Coles. Just be sure to select the piksters with the green handle (or RED handle-SIZE 4 if you have braces attached to behind your teeth) . The colour of the handle indicates the size of the bristle head.
Hard and crunchy foods can loosen, break or bend wires and bands when you are wearing braces. These foods should be avoided especially after you have had the braces’ wire changed as your teeth are the most tender at this stage. Examples of hard and crunchy foods to avoid include:
Sticky and sugary foods can also break or bend brackets and wires and loosen bands. They can stick to your braces and teeth for long periods of time, promote bacterial growth and cause tooth decay. Examples of sticky and sugary foods to avoid include:
Acidic foods and drinks can damage tooth enamel and cause permanent discolourations around braces, especially when consumed frequently or when sipped over extended periods of time.
Soda (soft drink) is particularly damaging on teeth as it not only contains acidic flavour additives, but it also includes 10-12 teaspoons of sugar, which further increases you chance of developing cavities. Examples of acidic foods and drinks to avoid include:
PS: One may look at the list above and be crestfallen by the amount of foods on this list. But there are plenty of nice foods that you CAN have with braces. If you are an active braces patient of our practice, ask us for our FREE braces recipe ebook. This has lovely food recipes kindly contributed by patients in orthodontic treatment themselves.
We are often asked for some ideas for easy school lunches for parents to help prepare to help transition their children into their braces journey, please find a list of great ideas below:
Hooray! It is possible to have braces without putting your favourite sport on hold. But we need to take some special precautions…
There are three types of mouthguards which can be used, ideally a custom made mouthguard from your dentist will provide the most protection.
Premade Mouthguards. These usually cover your upper and lower teeth. They are usually a standard single size and often, some adjustment of these mouthguards may be required to make it more comfortable. They are often more looser fitting than the other 2 types of mouthguards below and are for use in sports where there is a low risk of contact during sport. You need to keep your teeth biting to wear the mouthguard comfortably. You can purchase this from our practice for approximately $50. See the image below:
Store bought Mouthguards. These can usually be purchased from Rebel or a well stocked chemist. Make sure you select the ‘orthodontic mouthguard’ to be sure it fits more comfortably.
Custom made mouthguards: These offer the highest level of protection and is the recommended choice for braces patients in a moderate-high contact during sport ie: netball, basketball, football. A customized mould of the teeth with braces is required. If your child/teenager has a large overbite or severe crowding, a new mouthguard may be required midway during orthodontic treatment due to the ongoing bite changes.
Music & Braces
Typically speaking, playing a musical instrument doesn’t tend to affect your braces.
Some woodwind instruments, such as the trumpet, flute, saxophone and piccolo, which require you to blow air through the mouth piece, may take some time getting used to, just as talking and eating first did. On occasion, we have braces patients tell us that it can be uncomfortable. An easy solution is to use some wax on the sore spots.
In order to do this, pull apart a small pea sized amount of orthodontic wax, roll it into a ball shape and press lightly onto the bracket or wire which is giving you trouble. This wax is provided free for braces patients of our practice! Just ask us at your next appointment.
Absolutely! In fact, we recommend it now more than ever! Having braces on your teeth makes it increasingly difficult to reach when brushing and it’s not uncommon for braces patients to get more build up and quicker than you normally would.
It is the job of our friendly Hygienists, Monica and Adriana, to give you feedback at every appointment and if required, they might recommend you to see your dentist sooner to have your teeth cleaned.
Firstly, congratulations on reaching the end stages of your braces journey! Now for the next step… taking them off! Our braces patients often have a few questions, so hopefully the below information will help to answer those.
Before you come in, you should know that the appointment takes between 45 to 60 minutes. Often parents will drop their children off and go for a quick shop at Westpoint.
We remove the braces by simply squeezing the bracket and it easily pops off. On the odd occasion we have found that some teeth may be a little sensitive during the procedure, however, in most cases, braces patients have little to no discomfort.
Once the braces have been taken off, we then need to remove the glue which held the braces on. During this process you will feel some cold air on the teeth.
The last two stages of this appointment include taking some final photos and a set of impressions/moulds to make your orthodontic retainers. At your next appointment in approximately 5 days we will issue you your orthodontic retainers and give you all necessary instructions.
If you have any questions before your appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us at anytime. Looking forward to seeing you and your braces free smile very soon!
We generally provide Fixed and Removable Orthodontic Retainers as part of your orthodontic treatment. After we issue your retainers, we follow you up for another 12 months to make sure that the retainers are fitting well, all intact and that your teeth have not moved.
Fixed Retainers are permanent wires bonded or “glued” on the inside surface of the front teeth and therefore not visible. This is one of the best ways to prevent your teeth shifting as they are permanently attached. They are comfortable and if are kept clean with normal brushing and flossing as well as visiting your Dentist for regular cleans, they are not likely to cause tooth or gum disease. During your follow-up retainer checks, we make sure that your fixed retainers are intact.
On top of the fixed retainer, we also provide clear removable retainers that fits over the entire arch of the teeth. They are easy to wear and are nearly invisible! It is important that these retainers are worn as instructed. They must be worn frequently enough and for long enough to keep the retainers fit comfortably. If they are left out of the mouth for too long, teeth will sometimes start to move and if this occurs, some discomfort or tightness may be experienced the next time the retainer is worn. In this case, retainers must be we worn more often and should be checked for fit in our office.
We Want You to have that Smile for Life!
Who wouldn’t like to keep that straight teeth and smile for life? After all you have worked hard during your orthodontic treatment. It is therefore important that you wear your retainers as instructed and attend your follow-up retainer checks to make sure that everything is going well.
If taken good care of, your removable retainers can last you a few years. However overtime, retainers can wear down or break and will need to be replaced. We have also seen patients who have unfortunately lost their retainers for eg. while on holidays or whose retainers have been chewed/eaten by their pets. It’s a good idea then to have a spare set of retainers to help ensure that your teeth are kept in position.
First and foremost, it is important to know if you have wisdom teeth or not. Not everyone has all four of their wisdom teeth and other people may have one, two or only three.
If you do have wisdom teeth, it’s not all doom and gloom; they might not need to be removed and every single patient is different. The deciding factor on keeping your wisdom teeth is if you have enough room in your jaw for them to fully erupt and for them to become ‘functional’ – that is, use them to eat with.
If you do NOT have room for your wisdom teeth, they may be termed ‘impacted’. If your wisdom teeth are impacted and sore, it is generally advisable to have them removed; please note this will be discussed on a case-by-case scenario.
Please speak to Dr. Chang for the treatment that is best for you.
*This is the audio version of the transcript if listening is a preference over reading.
After braces are removed, removable clear plastic retainers are issued as part of your treatment to help keep the teeth straight. In some instances, a Retainer Splint may be recommended by Dr. Chang. This is ideal particularly for patients who grind or clench their teeth. Some signs and symptoms of grinding or clenching include making teeth noises at night, waking up with tender jaw muscles or headache in the morning and worn down teeth. Teeth that continue to wear down from the force of grinding and clenching are at risk of becoming sensitive overtime, and may be prone to fracture. Jaw joint problems may also develop from grinding and clenching.
The Retainer Splint is made of a durable acrylic material and is ideal for long term use to protect teeth from wearing down from grinding and clenching. It also helps to keep the teeth straight. Dr. Chang will advise you if this is suitable for you or your child.
If you are concerned about grinding or clenching or experience any jaw pain or discomfort, please do not hesitate to approach our staff or contact us on 8814 9941 or [email protected]. We can provide you with tips and guide you to get the treatment you need.
New ways to achieve a beautiful and healthy smile
I recently came back from 2 major 3-day conferences dedicated to invisible or discreet ways to straighten one’s teeth. It was an opportunity to exchange ideas with orthodontists all over the world, to improve the array of options available to patients to straighten your teeth and address your concerns.
The benefits to you from these are:
As an orthodontist with a special interest in invisible treatment options, you will typically find at our consultation, we tend to place emphasis on your area of concerns or challenges you may have, to develop solutions that are tailored for you.
Call us today on 02-8814-9941 and our team would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.