If you or a member of your family have decided on having orthodontic braces (or even Invisalign treatment with aligner trays), it is important to know that while this is in process, there are some habits that need to be avoided to prevent damage.
Don’t Chew Hard Objects, Foods, or Candies
Don’t chew on anything that is not food. That means no nibbling on pencils, pens, straws, ice cubes, or your nails. These are hard and could chip, break, or loosen the wires or brackets.
Also, don’t bite into any hard foods, like apples, pears, nuts, bagels, pretzels, hard cookies and biscuits, corn on the cob, carrots, celery, chips, and unpopped kernels of corn. Corn off the cob and popped corn is safe.
Make sure to avoid hard, sticky, and chewy candies, like caramels, licorice, gummies, taffy, lollipops, fruit roll-ups, and peanut brittle.
Try to avoid chewing foods that require a major effort with your front teeth, such as chicken wings, ribs, jerky, pizza, and pickles.
So what foods can you eat? Soft bread, pasta, cooked vegetables and beans, baked potatoes, berries, baked apples, cooked carrots, pudding, soups with well-cooked foods in them, non-frozen smoothies, dairy products (milk, dairy, and soft cheeses), meatloaf, tuna, and small pieces of meat off the bone.
Other Tips to Avoid Braces Damage
Stop using your teeth to pull clothing off and on, open bags or packages, tear open packets of ketchup or mustard, etc. Repeatedly doing this could shift the position of teeth. Use scissors or a knife.
If you are using anything but a soft-bristled toothbrush, get a new one and don’t brush too hard, which can damage the protective enamel of teeth, as well as the gums.
Thumb-sucking can continue up to the teen years and if your child is doing this, be aware that this can not only result in the need for orthodontic treatment, but misalignment of the bite. How to stop the habit? One tactic is to wrap the thumb in a cloth and dip it in an unpleasant flavor.
Cut back on drinking coffee, tea, red wine, fruit juices, and colored sodas, using a straw when you do, and taking a drink of water afterwards (or even brushing your teeth and flossing to avoid discoloration).
Finally, cultivate the good habit of making sure you continue to brush after breakfast for two full minutes, again after dinner, and flossing carefully after your last snack or drink. Dr. Song will advise you when to come in for adjusting the braces or aligners and when you need a professional cleaning by your hygienist.