General Instructions for Patients

Your Braces

Congratulations, you have made the big decision and are now wearing braces.  The following information will help make your orthodontic treatment as easy as possible.  Our goal is to give you the best smile possible.  In order to accomplish this, we will need your help!!

Oral Hygiene

It is important for you to know that the build up of plaque on the teeth or around the braces can easily cause gum disease, cavities, or permanent marks (white spots) on the fronts of your teeth.  With braces, it will take you a bit longer to brush your teeth properly.  Here is some good advice to make brushing easier and help you do a more thorough job.

If you want to see or print all of these instructions, click the General Instructions button, or just click on the buttons below to look at specific topics.

Brushing Tips.  Use a soft toothbrush.  Begin by brushing the front side of your teeth.  Look at each tooth as you brush it.  Make small circular brushing motions.  Brush along the gum line pointing bristles at an angle into the pocket between the tooth and the gum.  Plaque likes to hide in this area … beware!  Brush above, below, and on the front of each bracket.  Then point the bristles under the wire.

Make up your own routine so that no area is missed.  For example, begin with your upper right last molar tooth.  Brush it clean, and move on to the next tooth.  Continue until you reach your upper last left molar tooth, and then switch to the bottom teeth.  Again, start on one side and move all the way to the other side making sure to get every tooth.  Now that the front sides of your teeth are clean, begin brushing the backside of your teeth in the same order.  Finally, brush the biting surface of all your teeth.  You should brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.  This will help to make your breath smell better.

After brushing, rinse your teeth thoroughly with water.  Take a good look at your teeth and braces in the mirror.  Each brace should look shiny and all the teeth should be free of plaque or food.  If you see any places that were missed, quickly brush that area again with only the toothbrush and water.  Toothpaste will only block your view.

Cleaning Between the Teeth:  One of the hardest areas to keep clean is between the teeth and under the wire.  For this reason, we have given you a special type of brush called an Inter-dental (Proxy) toothbrush.  It has a very small brush designed to clean in these hard to get to areas.  Use it to clean between all of your teeth.  It should be used at least once each day, ideally when you brush before going to bed.  If needed, use it as often as you can.

How Often Do I Need to Brush:  In order to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy when the braces are taken off, you need to brush at least three times each day, ideally in the morning, afternoon (or after school), and before going to bed.  You should spend at least 3-5 minutes each time you brush.

Consequences of Poor Brushing:  If you don’t do a good job when you brush and/or don’t brush often enough, the consequences can be terrible.  When the braces are taken off, what can be left are ugly, red swollen gums, and holes or permanent white spots on the fronts of teeth.  All of this can be avoided with good brushing from the start.

Clean Teeth for Appointments:  Please brush your teeth well before every appointment.  It is very difficult as well as unpleasant to work on dirty teeth.  We will grade your brushing at each appointment … and we are strict.  Don’t be offended or discouraged if we criticize your brushing.  We are only trying to make sure you will have the best smile after the braces are taken off.

What to Expect From the Braces: It is expected that there will be some initial soreness after new wires are placed or rubber bands are started.  The teeth will slowly begin to move, and you will feel some pressure on them.  Usually, the soreness and pressure will go away after a few days.

Helpful Hints for Soreness: If you feel pressure of soreness after an adjustment, do not go to a completely soft diet.  Eating normal foods which will help to reduce the pain more quickly, like chewing sugarless gum. If needed, you can have your parents give you Advil, Tylenol, or Aleve until the soreness decreases (1-2 days only).

Lip, Cheek, or Tongue Irritation: If one of the brackets is causing irritation to your lips, cheeks, or tongue you should take a small piece of the soft wax we gave you and place it on that brace.  If this does not help and the irritation does not go away after a couple of days, please give us a call.

Each bracket is checked after it is put on to be certain it is firmly attached to the tooth.  Biting into hard or sticky foods as well as hard objects can cause enough pressure to loosen a bracket or a band and even bend the wire.  All of this can cause your teeth to move in the wrong direction.

Foods Which Are Not Allowed: In general, you need to avoid foods and/or candies that are hard, sticky, or chewy.  For example, you should stay away from caramels, taffy, licorice, hard rolls, Italian bread, bagels, and hard candy. You should not bite into hard objects such as pens, pencils, eyeglasses, toothbrushes, silverware, and ice cubes.  When you begin treatment, we will give you a detailed acceptable / non-acceptable food list.  Please read it carefully and keep it for reference.

Gum Chewing: Yes, you are allowed to chew gum.  However, it must be sugarless stick gum such as Extra, Trident, Carefree, Freedent, or Dentyne.  Do not chew large, thick pieces of gum such as Bubble Yum.  This is too thick and will damage the braces.

A loose bracket generally is not an emergency, but if it is poking or bothering you, you may come in for an emergency visit.  If one of the back molar bands comes off, please come in for an emergency visit and bring the band with you.

If a wire has shifted, broken, or come out and is stabbing you, please give us a call immediately.  This is an emergency.  Use the wax if it will help.  If for any reason something is giving you excess pain and is not merely the initial discomfort from a new wire, please call the office immediately.

In order to finish in the amount of time we estimated at the beginning of treatment, we will need the following:

  • Good cooperation with elastics
  • Good attendance at your appointments
  • Minimal broken appliances
  • Good brushing

If you are deficient in any of these areas, your treatment time may be extended.

Candy Not To Eat

Bit of Honey
Marathon Bar
Black Cow
Milk Duds
Bubble Yum Gum
Milky Way
Butterfinger Bar
Caramel Corn
100 Grand Bar
Caramel Bar
Peanut Brittle
Charleston Chew
Power Bar
Dots Red Hots
Frozen Candy Bars
Rock Candy
Fruit Roll Ups
Slow Pokes
Gummy Bears
Snickers Bar
Good and Plenty
Heath Bar
Jaw Breakers
Jujy Fruits
Taffy Apples
Ju-Ju Bees
Tootsie Rolls
Tootsie Roll Pops
Life Savers

Other Foods Not To Eat

Whole Apples (must be cut into at least four pieces)
Whole Carrots (must be sliced)
Corn on the Cob
Bagels (any type)
Hard Rolls or Bread (Italian Bread)
Submarine Sandwiches (Subway sandwiches are okay)
Ice Cubes
Olives with pits
Beef Jerky

Chocolate Covered Fruit such as raisinets
M&M’s (no peanuts)
Cough Drops (for colds only, do not chew!)
Peanut Butter Cups
Hershey Bars
Sugarless Stick Gums
Mint Patties
Three Musketeers