At the end of orthodontic treatment, you’ll have a stellar grin and improved oral health. However, to reach that point and ensure you get amazing results, you’ll want to give your smile and your hardware (or clear aligners) the TLC they deserve. Life with braces won’t require too much extra effort but there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind so your appliances stay in excellent shape and you’re comfortable. To point you in the right direction, the team here at Hawley Orthodontics has compiled 20 helpful Invisalign and braces tips and tricks.
1. Keep your eye on the prize! Stay motivated throughout treatment by thinking of what your smile will look like when you’re done. You can even take some “before” selfies to serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
2. One of the best tips for new braces wearers or Invisalign patients is to trust that you’ll get used to the feeling of your appliance very quickly. The first day of having braces can be a little weird. Your mouth isn’t quite sure what to make of the brackets and wires, so you might produce extra spit and swallow a lot. This will go away within an hour or so. Any changes in your speech due to your braces or aligners will also disappear in a day or two.
3. Getting your braces put on doesn’t hurt at all. However, for a few days afterwards, following adjustments or when wearing a new set of Invisalign aligners, your teeth might be sensitive. Drink ice water or treat yourself to a smoothie to numb your mouth. Eat soft foods (i.e., mashed potatoes, yogurt, applesauce, soup, Jell-O) until you feel ready to resume your regular diet. You can take an over-the-counter, non-aspirin pain reliever if necessary. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package and check with your doctor if you have any special medication needs.
4. During the initial getting to know you phase with braces, you may experience lip and cheek irritation due to the brackets and wires. Once your mouth toughens up, which usually happens during the first week, this won’t be a problem anymore. In the meantime, mix one tablespoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around in your mouth to soothe irritation. Repeat this as often as necessary. You can also dry off the part of your appliance that’s bothering you and stick a piece of dental wax on it to act as a barrier.
5. If a bracket comes loose or a wire starts poking you in the cheek, you can move the bracket back into place and either push the poking wire out of the way with the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab or carefully cut the excess with sterilized nail clippers. Then, cover the offending bracket or leftover wire with dental wax as a temporary fix. Call our office so we can let you know if you’ll need to come in for a repair appointment.
6. We’ll provide you with an electric toothbrush. Use it, along with non-whitening toothpaste, to brush your teeth in the morning, at night and after every meal. Get around your braces, along your gum line and all surfaces of your teeth, including around your back molars. Brush for two minutes every time. If you’re straightening your teeth with Invisalign, after taking care of your pearly whites, clean your aligners by brushing them and rinsing them with lukewarm water.
7. Brushing with braces isn’t super challenging but due to your new nooks and crannies, you’ll want to get the hard-to-reach areas between your brackets and wires with a proxy brush, which we’ll give you.
8. Floss every day with dental floss or an orthodontic flosser. We recommend doing it at night. If you have trouble flossing with braces, a water pick can make things easier.
9. Add a fluoride mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine. Swish it around in your mouth for 60 seconds two times per day to zap bacteria and germs. Crest Pro-Health and Listerine are great options.
10. Put together a braces care kit and take it with you everywhere, including school and work. Stock it with a travel toothbrush and proxy brush, toothpaste, floss and dental wax. This will allow you to maintain your sparkling smile when you’re on the go. If you happen to leave it at home, make sure to rinse your mouth out really well with water after eating and brush as soon as you get home.
11. When it comes to dos and don’ts when you have braces, the main don’t is eating really hard or sticky foods as they can damage your braces. Don’t bite into things like raw carrots, apples or bagels with your front teeth. Instead, cut them into small pieces. Candy, such as Starburst, taffy and Skittles, will have to wait until treatment is over (it will be worth it!). With that being said, why focus on the few things you can’t eat? Almost everything else is still A-OK and there are some top-notch braces-friendly restaurants in Omaha.
12. Speaking of eating, if you’re an Invisalign patient you’ll take your aligners out to eat. Always carry your case with you and as soon as you remove your aligners, store them in it so you don’t misplace them. Putting them on a napkin is a surefire way to accidentally throw them out.
13. Stay away from whitening products, including whitening toothpastes and the popular strips, while wearing braces. The brackets are covering part of your teeth, so when they come off, the areas where the braces used to be will be darker than the whitened portions. If you’re undergoing Invisalign treatment, this doesn’t apply since the aligners are removable.
14. Carry a small mirror, download a mirror app or befriend selfie mode on your phone’s camera so you can check your braces after eating to look for stubborn bits of food.
15. Visit your general dentist about every three months for cleanings and checkups while you’re wearing braces or Invisalign. Staying cavity-free is important during orthodontic treatment and you wouldn’t want decay to put a damper on your smile makeover.
16. On another food-related note (hey, we love a good meal at Hawley Orthodontics), soft bread is notorious for getting stuck in braces. While not harmful, it’s annoying. If you’re making a sandwich, try toasting the bread just slightly to keep your hardware nice and clean.
17. Don’t panic if your teeth feel kind of loose sometimes. This is totally normal and means treatment is working. The teeth have to be able to move into their new places. Once you’re done with your braces or Invisalign, they’ll be nice and secure.
18. Mouthguards are a must if you play sports or do any activity that could result in getting hit in the face. We provide them to our patients at our office. Braces wearers aren’t the only ones who should be protecting their mouth either since losing a tooth would have a huge impact on your Invisalign treatment too. According to the American Dental Association, athletes are 60 times more likely to have a dental injury when not wearing a mouthguard. Keep your teeth and appliances safe!
19. Smile! If you’re worried that you’ll be self-conscious about having braces, the good news is that with clear braces or Invisalign, most people won’t even be able to tell you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Even metal braces are sleeker and smaller than they used to be. We offer clear braces, metal braces and Invisalign all for the same rate so you can choose the one that makes you feel the most confident and keep on smiling from start to finish.
20. Wear your retainer when you’re done treatment. It’s the only way to make sure your teeth stay in their new positions. We’ll create a custom one just for you and tell you how often to wear it so your fantastic smile lasts forever.
Now that you’re well versed on how to have success with braces or Invisalign, you’re on your way to showing off your brand new grin. If you’re still just thinking about treatment, schedule a free consultation at our Papillion orthodontic office and we’ll chat with you about your goals and needs and determine the best treatment options for your unique smile. If you have questions or you’d like even more tips for having braces, don’t hesitate to contact Hawley Orthodontics.