Braces are an absolute lifesaver for anyone who has struggled with out-of-shape teeth. Thanks to their popularity with dentists and patients alike they’ve become much lighter and easier to wear. That being said, braces aren’t invincible tools. They can still break and become worn out when they aren’t cared for and maintained properly.
Your teeth and gums also suffer when you don’t care for them properly. Dirt, germs, and bacteria left behind inside your mouth can multiply and cause lots of problems that your braces won’t be able to solve. But as long as you practice proper oral hygiene and listen to your dentist, you won’t have too much to worry about. Here are five things you should keep in mind when wearing braces.
This is probably something you’ve heard over and over again. And that’s for a very good reason. Thin brace wires and brackets can and will break when they’re exposed to too much force. In other words, your braces will bend and break when you use them to chew and eat too much hard food. Sticky candy is also a huge no-no since they can also damage wires and brackets.
Avoiding hard food might seem like a tough sacrifice to make at first, but it does become easier as time goes by. In fact, you’ll be able to start eating tougher food once your dentist decides to let you wear thicker brace wires. But no matter how thick your brace wires are, it’s still best to balance out your diet with softer food such as yogurt, bread, and cheese. Oh, and don’t chew ice at all.
Sugar doesn’t really do any favors for your oral health. They can help strengthen and multiply harmful mouth bacteria, weaken enamel, and result in lots of painful cavities. There are even more risks to deal with when you drink soda and other sugary beverages while wearing braces.
Sugary drinks can weaken the adhesive that keeps your braces bound to your teeth. The same can also be said for sugary snacks and desserts. Once a bracket becomes loose, the tooth it should have been supporting will start to move out of place. The more brackets you lose, the less likely you are to enjoy straighter and healthier teeth in the future.
You can also avoid problems with your braces by taking proper precautions. Use a straw when drinking sweet stuff so that your teeth won’t be exposed to too much sugar. Opt for sugar-free options at café or restaurant when you can. Drink a glass of water to get rid of any excess sugar and bacteria from your mouth. And if your braces are removable, take them off before you start drinking anything too sweet.
Complications like swollen gums and cavities will only make things harder for you and your dentist. The best way to avoid these problems is to simply brush and floss your teeth properly every day. Rinsing with water before your brush and using interdental brushes will also help get rid of any chunks of food stuck behind your brace wires.
You should also get professional cleanings every 3 months. Your dentist will get rid of any sticky plaque and tartar that have stuck to your teeth, as well as make adjustments to your braces if needed. Simply allowing these nasties to fester in your mouth will only result in your teeth staying crooked and misshapen instead of becoming straight.
Your bite is just as important as your teeth and gums. Overbites and underbites can lead to problems like bruxism (excessive teeth grinding) and sleep apnea. Elastics ensure that your jaw is properly aligned and that you don’t develop serious health complications after your braces have been taken off. In fact, wearing your elastics can even help you get your braces off sooner (depending on what your dentist says, of course).
Problems with your braces can happen sometimes. A stray wire can poke at your cheek and cause a painful sting. One of your brackets can fall out after you eat an apple. The wire connecting two brackets together can snap and break. When problems occur your first step should be to contact your dentist as soon as you can.
Another reason to stay in touch with your dentist is that braces aren’t a one and done deal. They need regular maintenance and adjustments to keep working. When you don’t let your dentist adjust and align your braces as needed, your teeth can start to move out of place again instead of staying aligned. The longer you hold off your needed adjustments, the longer it will take for your teeth to become perfectly healthy and straight.