There is no doubt that living with braces can certainly complicate life, but they do not have to be a major problem when they are properly cared for. It is important to keep in mind that braces only remain in place for a short period of time, and the benefits of braces can last a lifetime. Above all – don’t forget to smile!
Appropriate Foods for Braces
There are certain foods that patients with braces should avoid, including:
- Gooey or chewy candy, such as chocolate bars, taffy, and gummy bears
- Caramel or hard candies
- Chunky or sticky nut butters
- Never bite items such as fingernails, pens, or pencils.
The following foods may be eaten, but patients should do so carefully:
- Chips should be eaten slowly, one at a time.
- Apples and carrots should always be cut into small pieces.
- Very chewy bread products, such as bagels, should be torn into small pieces and eaten slowly.
- Corn should always be removed from the cob first.
- Sugary drinks, such as soda, should be avoided whenever possible, as they may cause tooth decay.
Follow Up Visits
Braces require numerous “follow-up” visits, also known as adjustments. These visits typically occur every 4 to 6 weeks during treatment. They allow the orthodontist to check on a patient’s braces, to ensure proper hygiene techniques are being followed and to tighten the braces when necessary. During follow up visits, the orthodontist may ask questions regarding food choices or hygiene habits. This is an ideal time to get advice regarding any foods in particular that the patient may be missing.
As the orthodontist progressively tightens the braces, the patient may experience slight pressure or pain. Overall, most patients describe this feeling as having a sore mouth. Sometimes, an over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen may help. Eating soft foods for the next two or three days should also help ease the soreness experienced after having braces tightened. As long as proper hygiene is practiced and the correct foods are eaten, any new pressure should subside fairly quickly.
Getting Braces Removed
Some patients may experience a slight pressure when braces are being removed, but they do not feel any pain with this final visit. However, many patients are also prescribed a retainer during this final visit. The new retainer may cause slight discomfort when it is first used, but it is important to use the retainer properly to ensure teeth do not shift.
The orthodontist will use pliers to remove braces. If proper oral hygiene was not followed, there may be marks beneath the braces commonly referred to as “white scars.” Do not attempt any bleaching or whitening methods for at least a month after removal of braces. In addition, do not immediately binge on crunchy or chewy foods that were missed during treatment. Teeth and gums are likely to be sensitive after the removal of braces.