If you and Dr. Song have decided that the best path to a perfect smile is to have orthodontic braces straighten your teeth, you may be wondering what the first weeks will be like wearing them. Don’t be worried: many millions have gone through this and 92% of all orthodontic treatment patients say they are glad they now have a beautiful smile that is much easier to keep healthy.
The habits you develop in the first weeks will make all the difference in how long it takes to reach the goal and how successful your experience is. Before you leave the office, make sure you are clear on a few things:
- Are the wire ends comfortable as they are or do they poke your cheeks or tongues? They can be adjusted then and on future visits.
- Do you know how to properly wear the headgear and how to clean the braces, teeth, and gums after every meal?
- Do you have supplies like cleaning aids, elastic bands, dental wax to protect soft tissue, and any materials you may need before your next visit?
- Did you put your next appointment on the calendar?
- Do you know what to do in the unlikely event you have a dental emergency? If you find any part of the braces irritating your mouth, just put a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it around for 30 seconds half a dozen times during the day.
Braces do require some rules about what it is best to avoid when it comes to eating. In the first few days after having your braces placed, stick with soft foods like yoghurt, pudding, pasta, seedless bread, soups, and soft vegetables.
After that, you can gradually ease into other safe foods. The rules that used to be given about what to avoid have been relaxed somewhat, given how more durable modern braces are. For example, while sugary gum remains a bad idea, sugar-free gum is actually a good thing to chew (it doesn’t result in enamel-eating acid being left on the teeth, strengthens enamel by delivering calcium, phosphates, and fluoride, and stimulates saliva, which fights cavities).
In general, you still want to avoid anything that is hard or sticky, especially when biting with your front teeth (such as caramels, taffy, hard candy, ice, nuts, pretzels, and popcorn kernels that aren’t popped).
You can cut raw vegetables into bite-size pieces that can be chewed with your back teeth or boil, cook, or steam them. You can cut up or warm bagels, croutons, pizza crust, taco shells, and French and Italian bread so you don’t have to tear large pieces apart with your teeth. Cut meat off the bone and corn off the cob. Apples can be cut into bite-size pieces. If you drink red wine, colas, or coffee and tea, wash your mouth with water after to avoid staining your teeth around the braces (using a straw also helps).
Once you think about it, there are many other foods you can indulge in that are healthier than sugary and sticky ones: cooked grains, beans, pasta, tortillas, dairy products, avocados, ice cream, smoothies, eggs, soft meats (chicken, turkey, meatloaf, seafood, etc.), and so on.
Finally, you also want to avoid bad dental habits, like using your teeth to tear off clothing or open packages and chewing on pens or nails.
If you haven’t started on the journey to a perfect smile, set an appointment for a full exam so that you and Dr. Song can discuss your best options. We serve the Berkeley, El Cerrito, and wider surrounding areas.