Life With Braces

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! For the first few days, stick to soft foods. Avoid hard crusts, or meats or raw fruit and vegetables. You will soon be able to bite a moderately hard item again, but nothing too hard. You’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat and drink for the duration of your treatment.

Avoid these foods:

Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice, sweets, chewing gum

Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips, crusts

Sticky foods: caramels, gum

Hard foods: nuts, candy, hard crusts

Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils, ice cubes or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Discomfort

When you have your braces fitted, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. You should dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Your lips, cheeks and tongue can also be irritated for 7 – 10 days as they get used to the surface of your braces. The use of medical wax can reduce this.

Loosening of Teeth

This can be expected during your treatment and should not be a cause for concern. Teeth must loosen initially in order to be moved and aligned. Your teeth will again become rigidly and securely fixed in their newly aligned ideal positions.

Care of Appliances

In order to successfully complete your treatment plan, you have to work together with your dental expert. Your teeth and jaws can only move towards their corrected positions if the you follow your treatment plan and consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances will mean longer treatment duration.


Patients must brush and floss regularly when wearing braces, and it’s even more imperative to do so when wearing braces, so that your teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment has completed. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may need more regular visits to their dentist or hygienist for a professional cleanings. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during their orthodontic treatment.

Retainer Instructions

You must wear your retainers full time, until advised otherwise.

Take your retainers out when eating… and always put retainers in their case, so that they are not misplaced and so that they stay clean and hygienic. The majority of lost retainers are actually lost in restaurants and canteens.

You will need to clean your retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water to ensure adequate cleaning. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates associated odours. Custom orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but these don’t replace the need to brush.

When you are not wearing retainers, they need to be in a retainer case. Some patients find that retainers affect their speech at the beginning. This will only be temporary.

Orthodontic retainers are delicate, as and need to be looked after. If your retainers are lost or damaged, please call us right away so that we may order a replacement for you. Should you require assistance, or adjustments, please contact us for an appointment. You will need to always bring your retainers when attending appointments. Please remember that retainers are custom made and are therefore expensive appliances. With the correct care they will last a long time. You should remove retainers when you are eating, drinking or exercising, for example swimming. Retainers should be kept away from heat, washing machines and anywhere they may be left inadvertently and be damaged. This includes but is not limited to inside your car, pockets, washing machines or dryers, lockers, napkins, dishwashers etc.

Fixed Expander Instructions

If you are wearing expanders, you will need to turn your expansion screws as instructed by your dental expert. You will insert the key and turn as advised towards the arrow. If you are not able to attend your next scheduled appointment, you should stop turning your expander until after your appointment.


If you play any type of sports, it’s important that you consult us for special instructions and precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving your face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If your teeth have become loosened or the appliances are damaged, call immediately for an appointment. In the meantime, treat discomfort in the same way as you would treat general soreness.

Loose Wire or Band

These can become loose so you should not be alarmed if this happens. If a wire protrudes and is irritating your mouth, you can use a blunt instrument like the back of a spoon and gently push the small wire under the main arch wire to get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, you can put wax or a small piece of chewing gum on the wire to reduce the irritation. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to your appointment.

Emergency Care

An emergency appointment may be made when there is severe pain, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can’t take care of at home. It is important to know the names of the parts of your appliances. It will help, when you phone the office, to be able to describe and identify which part is broken or out of place.

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