Oral hygiene with braces

Girl brushing braces with proxabrush

When you have braces, it’s very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your treatment. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us and we can help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.

You’ll also need to be careful about what you eat to prevent breaking your braces or bending the wires.


Brushing instructions

brushing diagram

Brushing: step 1

Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum.

brushing diagram

Brushing: step 2

Brush gently in a circular motion.

brushing diagram

Brushing: step 3

Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.

brushing diagram

Brushing: step 4

Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.

Flossing instructions

flossing diagram

Flossing: step 1

Using a piece of floss about 18 inches long, carefully thread the end between braces and wire. You may find a floss threader helpful.

flossing diagram

Flossing: step 2

Carefully floss around the braces.

flossing diagram

Flossing: step 3

Carefully floss around the gum areas.

flossing diagram

Flossing: step 4

Carefully floss around each tooth.

Eating with braces

Girl with braces

Don’t worry, we allow you to eat popcorn and snacking on potato chips! Before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, however, you will need to know what foods and snacks might damage your braces or other orthodontic appliances.

Foods to avoid with braces

  • Chewy foods — Beef Jerky, licorice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum, ice
  • Hard foods — nuts, carrots, hard candies like “now and laters”
  • Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, and bagels.

Foods you CAN eat with braces

  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
  • Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Soreness caused by braces and appliances

When you first get your braces, you may notice your teeth and mouth feel a tender or sore. This is perfectly normal for patients who have just gotten their braces on, and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes, but do not swallow the salt water. Some patients say that when they chew things that the soreness goes away.

If the pain from orthodontics feels more severe, you can also try taking a pain reliever, like ibuprofen, Advil or Motrin. Tylenol also works but is less effective. Many times your lips, cheeks, and tongue can become irritated for one to two weeks. It takes a couple of weeks for this soft tissue to toughen and become used to the braces. We give you some mouth wax after your 1st visit and you can put the wax over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need extra wax, please let us know, it’s always free!

Loose teeth

Don’t worry if your teeth begin to feel a little loose as this is normal! As your braces move your teeth into the right position they become loose and wiggle much more that usual. Once your teeth are in the right position, they will firm up and no longer be noticeably loose.

Loose Orthodontic Brackets and Bands

The orthodontic brackets and bands on your braces may come loose from time to time. This usually needs to be fixed if this happens. If you notice a loose appliance, please contact us as soon as possible so we can repair or replace your orthodontic appliance. If any piece of your braces or appliance comes off or is loose, be sure to save it in a baggie and bring it to the office with you on your next visit.

You can temporarily reposition or change the position of a poky loose wire or metal tie by using the hard back metal portion of a spoon to push the wire carefully and gently back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation or poking into your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire protect your tissue and to relieve the pain.

Please take care of your orthodontic appliances

When an appliances is damaged or broken, it almost always increases the length of your treatment process. If you take simple steps to take care of all your appliances, you treatment will go faster and with less hassle. Your teeth and jaw will move into their correct positions only if you consistently wear the rubber bands, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your orthodontist. If you feel like there is a problem, please contact Dr Young as soon as possible

Playing sports with Braces or other Orthodontic Appliances

We have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! So, if you do play sports, organized or weekend warrior sports, it’s recommended you wear an orthodontic mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let the orthodontist, Dr. Young, know if you need help finding the right protective mouthguard for your favorite sport. Game, set, and match!

Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are among the most common damage suffered by athletes. Protecting your smile while playing sports is essential when you have orthodontic braces or even Invisalign. Mouthguards help protect your teeth, gums and your cheeks from injury. If you participate in high-contact sports, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends you wear a mouthguard. Be sure to ask Dr. Young about mouthguards at your next appointment.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to check your mouth and appliance immediately for any damage that may have occurred. If your have broken any teeth or a tooth has been knocked out, you should go directly to your dentist. If you notice any loose teeth or damaged orthodontic appliance, please contact our orthodontic office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.