Commonly Asked Questions for Patients Who Have Braces
Congratulations on having your braces placed! You’re one day closer to achieving your beautiful, healthy smile! Having your braces put on can be incredibly overwhelming at the start with a little adjustment period for your speech, new eating habits and a longer brushing time.
How will I know if I broke one of my Braces?
How to identify a loose brace
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.
Cleaning with Braces
Keeping Your Teeth Clean with Braces
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:
What Should I Expect After Having My Braces Placed?
We receive many questions from new 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:
You will feel pressure on your teeth at first.
You may feel discomfort about 4-6 hrs after braces are put on and the next few days especially when chewing. But don’t worry as this is normal and will get better within a week or two! Pain reliever such as Nurofen can help you for the mean time (ask your pharmacist for advice first).
Soft foods such as mashed potato, yoghurt, jelly, blended foods and ice cream are best to eat at this point. After a period of 1-2 weeks, eating rapidly improves.
Eating with braces takes some practise but you will adapt to this soon enough! Make sure to chew your food slowly and carefully and brush after meals whenever possible or rinse your mouth with water to help get food out of your braces.
You may have irritated lips, cheeks or sores in your mouth as you get used to the braces. To help with the discomfort, dry the brace rubbing onto your lips/cheeks with tissue or paper towel and put wax on top of it. You can also try rinsing with some warm salt water and sleep on your back rather than on your side. Topical gels are also available in pharmacies that help relieve the discomfort ie: Bonjela, Kenalog in Orobase (ask your pharmacist for advice).
Your teeth may feel loose after a week or two. Don’t be alarmed as this is normal and will only last a short time.
A positive thing is that the more uncomfortable/ inconvenient bits about having braces are experienced initially and this improves rapidly over the course of a week or two.
One thing our patients find is knowing and being aware of the above information contributes to an overall more positive experience with us at Smiles & Faces Orthodontics.
Managing a Poking Metal Tie (Quick Tie)
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:
Use the reverse end of the pikster brush to push the poking metal wire back into place. Wipe with alcohol prior to use.
OR use a pen to push the metal wire and tuck it in. Wipe with alcohol prior to use.
and as can be seen from the picture below. the metal tie is now tucked in behind the braces wire.
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.
Ideas for School Lunches with Braces
Ideas for School Lunches with Braces
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:
Yoghurt or Jelly (always a winner with the kids!)
Up & Go or Sustagen
Sandwiches (white or wholemeal bread) with soft fillings and without the crust. Avoid multigrain or rye bread which may be a bit tough.
Rice (with small cut up vegetables)
Mandarins, kiwi fruit, grapes and bananas are some of the most manageable fruits
Cheese sticks (Cheese helps to protect against teeth decay too.)
‘Cup o’ Noodles’ can sometimes be available from their school canteen
What are disclosing tablets?
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.
Why are disclosing tablets important in orthodontic treatment?
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.
When do I use the disclosing tablets?
We find 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.
How do you use disclosing tablets?
Brush, floss and use the Pikster brushes to clean all around your teeth and braces.
Chew one disclosing tablet, swish it around in your mouth for about a minute and then rinse with water.
Check all sides of your teeth for any areas that have been stained red, including your back teeth and especially near the gumline.
Brush and floss these areas again to be confident that your teeth are free from harmful plaque.
Piksters: What are they and how do I use them?
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.
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.
Mouthguard: Playing Sport with my Braces
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 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.
Is it possible to play my musical instrument with my Braces?
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 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 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.
Can I still visit my Dentist for my regular check up and cleans?
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 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.
I’m Getting My Braces Off!!! Wait… How does that happen?
Firstly, congratulations on reaching the end stages of your braces journey! Now for the next step… taking them off! 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, 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!
Retainers: Life after Braces
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 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.
Removable Retainers 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.
Wisdom teeth: “Can I Keep ‘Em??”
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.
Four Tips to Finish Your Braces ASAP!
Nobody wants to be in braces for longer than necessary. To assist you on completing your orthodontic treatment on schedule AND maintaining clean and healthy teeth throughout your orthodontic treatment, we have categorized 4 FACTORS to be aware of when undertaking orthodontic treatment:
Hard and crunchy foods
Sticky and sugary foods
Soft drinks/ Fruit juices/ Energy/ Sports drinks
1. Hard and crunchy foods & braces
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:
Nuts eg. peanuts, almonds, cashews
Corn on the Cob
Ice / Ice block
Hard bread or cookies
Hard taco shells
Corn chips eg. Grain waves, Doritos
Potato chips eg. Smith’s chips
Hard biscuits eg. Shapes
Cereals (add milk to soften it!)
Hot crunchy chips
Tic tac lollies
Note that fruits such as apples, pears and carrots and should be chopped into bite-size pieces while foods such chicken wings and ribs should be taken off the bone and cut into smaller pieces before eating to reduce the stress on your braces
2. Sticky and sugary foods & braces
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:
Muesli or fruit bars
Toffee / Caramel candies
3. Soft drinks/ Fruit juices/ Energy/ Sports drinks & braces
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:
Habits such as nail biting, pencil chewing and picking at your wires can also break braces. Be aware of these and make an effort to stop them.
Make a wise choice based on the above list of foods, now that you are aware what foods are good and what should not be consumed. Remember that damaged braces mean extra appointments, inconvenience and extended treatment time. If you do break your braces, be sure to make an appointment and contact our office immediately.
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 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.
I Grind my Teeth… What are my options?
*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.
Invisible ways to straighten teeth Part 1. The common theme
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:
More predictable outcomes with fully customized braces and wires that have been developed, particularly with hidden invisible braces. Examples of these are Incognito® and Harmony ® braces. These customized braces and robotically bent wires have significantly improved the quality of hidden braces treatment.
Limited treatment options available for those who seek these (eg: Incognito/Harmony Lite), and along with these, a shorter treatment time. These limited treatment options are available with both invisible hidden braces and with Invisalign<sup>®</sup> (Invisalign<sup>®</sup> Lite or Invisalign<sup>®</sup> i7).
More predictable outcomes with clear removable aligners, ensuring greater certainty with treatment times.
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.