Helpful home care hints for orthodontic patients

It can take a while to get used to your new orthodontic appliances. But after a short break-in period, you’ll be surprised at how little life will have changed. You can still participate in any sport so long as you wear a mouth guard, and you can play your musical instrument to your heart’s content. There are very few special things you have to do as an orthodontic patient. Here are a few helpful reminders of what they are.

Take care of your appliances. They aren’t indestructible. Keep retainers away from heat. If you lose or break part of your appliance, call your orthodontist right away. If there’s a wire poking inside your mouth, gently tuck it back into place with a blunt object and cover it with a piece of wax until you can make it into the office.

Watch what you eat. Avoid eating any hard foods like ice, popcorn, nuts, and corn chips. Cut your raw veggies into bite-sized pieces. Stay away from sticky foods like gum and caramel. Cut down on sugary foods and pop. Keep foreign objects out of your mouth. Pencils, fingernails, and other objects can loosen or break your appliance.

Keep them clean. Appliances need to stay sparkly clean. Brackets, wires, and loose bands can trap food particles and make it hard to brush away harmful plaque. Brushing after every meal is the only way you’ll avoid tooth decay. If you’re a brace-wearer, use a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Start brushing the outside surface of your teeth with a back and forth motion. Tilt the bristle into the area right next to the gums where bacteria love to hide out. Brush the inner surface of your teeth with the same motion. Then brush the gums with a gentle circular stroke. Brush the chewing surface last, then rinse your mouth. And don’t forget to floss! If your braces get in the way, we can show you a special floss threader technique just for you.

Keep your appointments: Wear your headgear as directed (even when you’re on vacation) and remember to keep every orthodontic appointment. And don’t forget to bring your appliance in with you!