Online Dental Education Library
Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
Life with Braces
Life with Braces
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and Flossing Ortho
Even though you are careful, you may occasionally damage your appliances. Wires and brackets can become loose or break. Typically, this is not an emergency situation. If the patient is not in discomfort, you can call the office and make an appointment to come in when it is convenient. If the patient is in pain, please call for an immediate emergency appointment.
We want our patients to be informed of problems that may occur and understand how to solve them, at least temporarily, until it is possible to return to our office.
If a bracket comes loose from the tooth, call our office so we can determine if an emergency appointment is indicated. If the patient is comfortable and if it will not cause any problems or delay in treatment, additional time can be allowed to reattach the bracket at the next regularly scheduled appointment. If it is causing discomfort, we will schedule an immediate emergency appointment. If the loose bracket is still attached to a wire, leave it in place and apply wax to keep it from moving on the wire if it is bothersome. If the bracket comes completely out, place it in an envelope and bring it to your next appointment.
If a main archwire breaks (the one that goes all the way around the outside of your braces), you should leave it in if it is not uncomfortable and seems stable. If it is bothering you, you can do whatever it takes to make it more comfortable until you can visit the office to have the wire replaced. You can try such things as removing the offending piece, clipping an irritating piece with a small wire cutter or nail clipper, tucking the wire under a bracket, etc. Use wax as needed and call our office for an appointment.
Try to place the wire back in the bracket. Place wax if there is any discomfort and call for an appointment.
Sometimes a poking wire can be safely turned down so that it no longer causes you discomfort. Try to tuck the wire back in and out of the way with the blunt end of a toothbrush, pencil eraser or some other smooth object. If you are unable to take care of a poking wire, apply wax and call our office for an appointment.
Periodic soreness of the teeth or surrounding tissues during treatment is to be expected. If you experience this normal discomfort, it can usually be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water solution (one teaspoonful of salt in a cup of warm water). A mild over-the-counter pain reliever (Motrin, Tylenol, etc.) can be taken as directed.
Lost or Broken Retainers
Contact our office as soon as possible to arrange for repair or replacement of the retainer. If the retainer is cracked or has a broken wire but still fits comfortably, you should continue to wear it until you can bring it in for repair or replacement. If, for example, you break or lose your upper retainer, make sure you continue to wear your lower retainer (or vice versa), as this will help reduce the shifting potential of the teeth until you can be seen in our office.
Accidents Involving Teeth
For serious mouth injuries, the patient should initially be seen as soon as possible at the emergency room or by his/her family dentist. Once the initial trauma has been resolved, contact our office for an emergency appointment so we can repair any damage to the appliances and evaluate the affected teeth.
If you are involved with contact sports, we recommend you use a mouthguard. Use only an orthodontic mouthguard (not one you boil and adapt). We will be happy to supply you with one and they are also available wherever mouthguards are sold.
Our office is generally open Monday through Thursday. We can usually get you in to repair a problem quickly. In some instances, we will make you comfortable and then schedule another appointment at a later date if more involved treatment is necessary to remedy the problem. In case of an after-hours emergency, call our office and follow the instructions on the answering machine.
People can expect to wear braces for about two years – less or more in some cases. Adults are usually required to wear braces for longer periods of time.
Because orthodontic appliances need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure they continue to move the teeth into their correct position, they can create pressure on the teeth and jaws. This mild discomfort usually subsides following each orthodontia adjustment.
People who wear braces must be diligent in ensuring that food particles and other debris do not get trapped in the network of brackets and wires. In addition, brackets can leave stains on enamel if the area surrounding them is not cleaned on a daily basis.
Daily oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing are a necessity. Some people with orthodontic appliances can benefit from using water picks, which emit small pressurized bursts of water that can effectively rinse away such debris.
Another caveat: Braces and sticky foods don’t mix. Naturally, crunchy snacks and chewy substances should be avoided at all costs because they can cause orthodontia to be loosened or damaged.
When braces are removed, the patient is often fitted with a special device called a retainer, such as the name implies, retains the proper arch and location of the teeth (which can sometimes shift out of position without a retainer).
Space maintainers are nifty devices that can help teeth grow in normally following premature tooth loss, injury or other problems.
The devices can help ensure that proper spaces are maintained to allow future permanent teeth to erupt.
If your child loses a baby tooth early through decay or injury, his or her other teeth could shift and begin to fill the vacant space. When your child's permanent teeth emerge, there's not enough room for them. The result is crooked or crowded teeth and difficulties with chewing or speaking.
Other appliances that correct jaw-growth problems
- Bionator – This is a device that helps both jaws grow in proportion to one another. A bionator usually keeps the lower jaw forward, and helps teeth to properly erupt, leading to a natural and correct bite relationship.
- Headgear – Such a device, worn for several hours a day, exerts a specified amount of pressure on the upper mouth, teeth and jaws) and is used to ensure proper eruption of upper teeth and guide upper jaw growth direction.
- Herbst – This kind of device is affixed semi-permanently to both sets of molars, and keeps the lower jaw from shifting backward, preventing protruding upper teeth.
- Palatal expansion device – A narrow upper jaw can sometimes cause a crossbite (when lower and upper teeth don’t fit properly). A palatal expansion device is applied to the upper teeth near the back of the mouth, helping the upper jaw width to expand.
- Upper jaw expansion appliance – Narrow upper jaws also can be corrected with a device that gradually widens them over time.