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Life with braces

Orthodontic First Aid
During the course of orthodontic treatment, don’t be surprised if you experience minor discomfort due to a poking wire or loose bracket or band. Please place any piece(s) that come off in a ziploc bag and bring with you to your next appointment. We usually can accommodate minor repairs or replacements such as this at your regular adjustment appointment. However, if several (3 or more) items are in need of repair, please call ahead of your appointment to ensure that we will still be able to perform the necessary repairs without re-scheduling your appointment or without significant wait time to you and others.

In the rare event of severe discomfort that you cannot manage, an emergency appointment can be made. Please refer to the following tips for simple home remedies and to the braces diagram to describe the problem, should you wish to communicate with us over the phone.

Loose Bracket or Band:

Loose Bracket or Band

If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave it in place. If uncomfortable, cover with wax. If it comes out completely, bring with you to your next appointment. Do not attach headgear or elastics to a loose band.

Soreness from Braces:
For mouth sores, rinse with warm salt water to help keep the mouth clean so healing will occur more quickly. Topical anesthetics (such as Orabase) can soothe discomfort only temporarily. For tooth soreness, take a pain reliever that you would usually use for headache or similar discomfort.

Wire Out of Tube or Poking Wire:
Wire Out of Tube

Poking Wire
Try to replace archwire back into tube with tweezers. If unsuccessful, use a clean plier and carefully try to bend the offending wire away from cheek, if possible. If still uncomfortable, place wax (or alas, a ‘piece of chewed-up, sticky gum’) to help minimize irritation until the inside of the mouth can heal. Sometimes you may be able to cut off the offending piece by using a clean finger nail clipper. If still uncomfortable, call our office for an appointment to check or repair the appliance. See notes for Rotated Archwire.

Rotated Archwire:
Rotated Archwire If you can tell that on one side the wire is ‘way long’ and the other side is ‘way short,’ the archwire has likely shifted. Try to slide wire back around to the other side. If unsuccessful, place wax on wire (or clump of ‘gum’) and call office. Also see notes for Wire Out of Tube.

Lost Tie Wire or Elastic Tie:
Not necessary to call our office, just notify us at your next visit.

Headgear or Appliance Does Not Fit:
Call for an appointment.

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Braces Diagram

Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!
Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Bands: A thin metal ring fitted around the tooth so brackets or other attachments can be placed on the tooth. They provide a handle by which we can grasp and control the position of the tooth. Brackets: Small, square metal or ceramic (clear) attachment that is glued directly to the tooth. Brackets have a slot or groove which holds the archwire in place. Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!
Tie Back Wire Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Brackets: Small, square metal or ceramic (clear) attachment that is glued directly to the tooth. Brackets have a slot or groove which holds the archwire in place. Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!
Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!
Headgear Tube Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Continuous Elastic Chain: Elastic, linked chain used to close spaces around teeth.
End of Archwire: As front spaces close around teeth, the archwire may protrude posteriorly causing mouth irritation. Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! O-rings or Modules: Small, colored rubber rings that hold the archwire within the slot of the brackets.
Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Elastic (Rubber Band): Small, elastic rubber bands that is hooked (or looped) around different brackets to provide extra force to help move teeth or group of teeth. Archwires: Wires of various sizes and properties that act as a guide or track along which teeth are to be moved. They are changed throughout orthodontic treatment in order to create ideal tooth positions. Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!
Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Hook for Rubber Band Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do! Tie Wire: A fine metal wire that fastens the archwire in the brackets. Please move your mouse over another area of the diagram to find out more about the different parts of your braces and what they do!

Bands: A thin metal ring fitted around the tooth so brackets or other attachments can be placed on the tooth. They provide a ‘handle’ by which we can grasp and control the position of the tooth.

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Brackets: Small, square metal or ceramic (clear) attachment that is glued directly to the tooth. Brackets have a slot or groove which holds the archwire in place.

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Elastic (Rubber Band): Small, elastic rubber bands that is hooked (or looped) around different brackets to provide extra force to help move teeth or group of teeth.

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Springs or Coils: Push or pull on brackets to change the space between teeth.

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End of Archwire: As front spaces close around teeth, the archwire may protrude posteriorly causing mouth irritation.

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O-rings or Modules: Tiny, colored rubber rings that hold the archwire within the slot of the brackets.

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Tie Wires: Fine metal wires that fasten the archwire in the slot of the brackets.

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Archwires: Wires of various sizes and properties that act as a guide or track along which teeth are to be moved. They are changed throughout orthodontic treatment in order to create ideal tooth positions.

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Continuous Elastic Chain: Elastic, linked chain used to close spaces around teeth.

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Cleaning Your Teeth With Braces

Once you get your braces, keeping your teeth, gums and appliances is extremely important. Braces, wires, bands, and retainers can all trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Thorough brushing and flossing, preferably after each meal or snack, is the best way to prevent plaque accumulation, tooth decay and gum problems.

Remember, poor brushing/flossing will lead to not only white spots (decalcifications) on the enamel surface of teeth, but also tooth sensitivity, swollen gums, gum disease and tooth decay (see photo). Also, please remember to see your family dentist more frequently and regularly (~ every 3 to 4 months) while you have braces.

After Braces:
Excellent Brushing & Flossing

After Braces:
Poor Brushing & Flossing

After Braces:  Excellent Brushing & Flossing After Braces: Poor Brushing & Flossing
Healthy Gums & Beautiful Teeth Tooth Decay, Swollen Gums & White Spots on Permanent Teeth

Brushing: Using a soft bristle toothbrush, begin by using small, circular motions to clean ALL surfaces of the braces and teeth, especially the areas between the gums and braces, and the areas under the archwire. An interdental toothbrush (e.g. proxabrush) can help clean under the archwires and around your braces. Be patient. Take your time to do a thorough job. It WILL pay off over time.

Flossing: Using your floss threader with floss attached, direct the threader under the archwire and pull floss through. Gently clean the sides of both teeth and under the gums with an up-and-down motion. Pull floss through and use a different part of floss for the next tooth. Floss between all teeth once a day.

Flossing: Step 1 Flossing: Step 2
Insert floss behind archwire. Gently clean sides of teeth and under gums with an up-and-down motion.

Fluoride Rinse: After brushing and flossing (and especially at night before going to bed), rinse with a capful of fluoride-containing mouthrinse such as ACT or PHOSFLUR for a full minute or two and spit. DO NOT rinse with water after rinsing with this special rinse. These products will help re-mineralize weakened areas in the tooth enamel.

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Foods To Avoid

Common sense is always a good guide. For the first few days after each adjustment, try a soft diet. Anything HARD, STICKY or SUGARY can all cause problems for you and your braces. For example, hard foods can break off braces or wires. Try to cut these types of foods into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Sticky foods get stuck in between the braces and wires. Sugary foods encourage tooth decay and gum disease. Remember, frequent or excessive breakage of appliances will prolong treatment unnecessarily. Examples of these types of "No-No Foods" are listed below:

HARD FOODS STICKY FOODS SUGARY FOODS

Ice

Gum

Candy

Nuts Caramel Soda
Carrots/Apples (but diced OK) Gummy Candy Cookies
Pizza Crust, Bagels Licorice Ice Cream
Popcorn        
Pens, Pencils, Fingernails, etc.        

 

Athletics

Considering more than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year, we recommend the use of a protective mouthguard or “seatbelt for your mouth” to reduce the severity and frequency of dental injuries. Mouthguards are effective in moving soft tissue in the mouth away from the teeth, minimizing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for children who wear braces. There are three types of mouthguards:

  1. A ready-made or stock mouthguard that we provide free of charge, at your request, or that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores,
  2. The ‘boil and bite’ mouthguard is softened and formed in the mouth, and
  3. The custom mouthguard which is made from a model of the person’s teeth and is form-fitted in the mouth.

Please be advised that the stock ‘mouthguards’ that we provide are NOT heavy-duty, professional, custom-fitted protective devices that are more shock-absorbent. Please use common sense and protect yourself accordingly while playing sports. If teeth are loosened or appliances damaged, please contact us for an appointment.

The Florida Dental Association (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) advise mouthguard use for these contact sports: acrobatics, baseball, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weight lifting, and wrestling.

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Oh no! It’s too late. What to do in a dental emergency??

(Warning and Disclaimer: The following information is contained in the 2001 American Dental Association’s brochure Handling Your Child’s Dental Emergency and is provided to you for convenience, information and education purposes only. No doctor-patient relationship is established by your use of this information, nor is any diagnosis or treatment being provided. Information contained herein should be used in consultation with a dentist and an orthodontist of your choice. No guarantees or warranties are made regarding the information presented.)

Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving or losing your child’s tooth. Common sense is always a good guide. For all serious emergencies, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible. If during regular business hours, immediately call your family dentist for specific instructions, an emergency appointment or for immediate referral to an Oral Maxillo-Facial Surgeon. Meanwhile, here are some tips that can help you cope with a dental emergency quickly and calmly …

Knocked-out tooth: Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it is dirty. Do NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If it is possible, gently re-insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If that is not possible, place the tooth in a cup of milk and take your child to the dentist for follow-up as quickly as possible. Don’t forget to take the tooth with you!

Partially knocked-out tooth: Make sure no fragment of the tooth may be swallowed and get your child to a dentist as quickly as possible for repositioning and stabilization of the tooth.

Broken tooth: Rinse the tooth with warm water to keep the area clean. Put cold compresses on the face to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist immediately.

Bitten tongue or lip: Clean the area gently with a cloth, and put cold compresses on the area to keep the swelling down. Add pressure, holding the bleeding area tightly with gauze. If bleeding is excessive or does not stop in a short period of time, take your child to the dentist, oral surgeon or a hospital emergency room.

Toothache: Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Use dental floss to remove any food that may be trapped between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues. Take your child to the dentist as soon as possible.

Objects caught between teeth: Gently try to remove the object with dental floss. If you are not successful, go to the dentist. Do not try to remove the object with a sharp or pointed instrument.

Possible Broken Jaw: Apply cold compresses to control swelling. Take your child to your dentist, oral surgeon or hospital emergency room immediately.

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