Braces will change your life when they come off but not so much when you’re actually wearing them. With a few little tweaks, you can go on with your day-to-day activities without interruption and make the most out of your treatment.

Brushing & Flossing

Since you’ll have some extra nooks and crannies with your brackets and wires, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your oral hygiene. Teeth move faster in a clean, healthy mouth and you can ward off tooth decay, stains and gum disease. Follow these tips to keep your smile dazzling:

  • Brush at least three times per day for a minimum of two minutes each session.
  • Using the electric toothbrush we’ll give you and some non-whitening toothpaste, brush with small, circular motions around your braces and along your gum line (where your teeth and gums meet).
  • Be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth and around your back molars.
  • Use the proxy brush provided to get any areas you missed between your braces.
  • Floss daily, preferably at night, using dental floss or orthodontic flossers to remove plaque and food particles.
  • Rinse with mouthwash twice a day for 60 seconds to kill germs. We recommend a mouthwash with fluoride.
  • Be gentle with your braces and leave the adjustments to us! Playing with them can pull them loose.
  • Visit your general dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings (ideally every three months) throughout your orthodontic treatment.

What to Eat With Braces

After you get your braces put on, and sometimes following adjustments, your teeth might be a little sensitive but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise some of your favorite foods. Softer foods and cold drinks and treats can work wonders. Here are a few items we suggest adding to your grocery shopping list:

  • Pasta (spaghetti and macaroni and cheese)
  • Soft shell tacos
  • French fries
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Fish sticks
  • Soup
  • Peanut butter
  • Jello, pudding and smoothies
  • Applesauce and fruit cups
  • Ice cream
  • Soft candy (Hershey’s bars without nuts, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, etc.)
  • Popsicles and fudge bars
  • Yogurt

Additional Recommendations:

  • Advil
  • Listerine or Crest Pro-Health Rinse
  • Non-Whitening Toothpaste

Remember: Try not to bite into food, like raw apples and carrots or bagels, with your front teeth. Instead, cut everything into bite-size pieces. To avoid damaging your braces or pulling out your spacers, stay away from sticky foods such as Starburst, Skittles, gum (even sugar-free) and taffy. We promise, it will all be worth it in the end when you have a fantastic new smile to show for your efforts!


Considering Dr. Hawley is a huge sports fan, he’d never tell his patients to sit on the sidelines throughout their braces treatment. You can still do all of the things you love. We’ll give you a mouthguard to wear while playing to keep your mouth and braces safe.


Modern day braces are surprisingly comfy and there are very few actual orthodontic emergencies. However, the occasional mishap can arise. If that’s the case, give us a call right away and, if necessary, we’ll squeeze you in to fix the problem. In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks for temporarily handling issues at home:

Losing a separator during treatment is pretty common. Just contact us and we’ll let you know if it needs to replaced.

If your teeth are feeling sensitive after getting your braces put on or following an adjustment, stick to soft foods and cold drinks for a day or two. You can also take over-the-counter non-aspirin pain relievers. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package. Additionally, gargling with saltwater can be soothing. Mix one tablespoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water and swish away.

If the bracket is in the back of your mouth, slide it off the wire and use nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol to carefully clip any excess wire. If the bracket is in the front or middle of your mouth, dry it off with a piece of tissue, roll a little bit of dental wax into a ball and place it on the bracket to stop any irritation. Call us so we can let you know if it needs to be refitted or you can wait until your next appointment.

If a rogue wire starts poking into your cheek and causing discomfort, use the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab to try to move it out of the way. Dry the wire with a tissue and place dental wax over it to stop the poking. If it’s an unusually long piece of wire, which sometimes happens when you have a loose bracket, carefully cut it with your sterilized nail clippers. Give us a shout and we’ll get you in to see us if the poking continues.

It can take a little while for your mouth to get used to braces and lip and cheek irritation may occur. Use your saltwater gargle and place dental wax on any bothersome brackets or wires. Irritation should resolve on its own but if it doesn’t, contact us.

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