HYGIENE AND DIET
Eating with Orthodontic Appliances
Although some patients are able to eat or drink almost anything while in braces and have no ill effects, there are certain dietary habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances as well as increasing the risk of dental disease. Our aim is to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances due to appliance breakage as possible and minimize the side effects of poor diet choices. Remember, teeth move their best in a healthy environment and in individuals with excellent overall health. Be sure you have a well-balanced diet.
Potential harm to your teeth and gums
Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. These foods stick to your braces and remain on your teeth for long periods of time. If foods or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterwards. Between meal snacks should be confined to foods without refined sugar and should be followed by vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is not available.
The following foods can be particularly harmful to your teeth while wearing braces: Taffy and caramels, soda pop, sugar on cereal, icing on rolls and cakes, peanut butter and jelly, ketchup, syrup and honey on pancakes or waffles, and lemons (citric acid in juice can dissolve tooth enamel if eaten too frequently).
Potential harm to your braces
Braces have been attached to your teeth with an adhesive which normally will withstand the forces of eating. However, braces can be dislodged and wires bent or broken while eating certain foods. Hard foods, such as nuts, hard candy, corn chips and even crisp taco shells can harm your braces and should be avoided. Chewing ice cubes can also be very destructive to your appliances. Some foods such as whole apples, raw carrots or celery are healthy snacks, but must be cut to avoid damaging your braces.
Chewy foods such as gum, caramels, and even thick bread crusts can bend and distort wires causing treatment delays and extra visits for repairs. Popcorn can cause harm in multiple ways. The husks from the popcorn can become lodged beneath the braces and cause irritation to the gum tissue. Unpopped kernels can shear or break off brackets as well as bend or dislodge wires. Please inspect your braces when eating certain foods which may become caught on the braces or beneath the gums.
Hygiene with Orthodontic Appliances
Be sure to brush your teeth right after every meal and before you go to bed. It's best to use a fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Your orthodontist may prescribe a flouride mouth rinse to help prevent cavities. Try to brush like this:
- Start by brushing the outside of each tooth at least 10 times.
- Then brush where your gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion.
- Brush the inside surface of each tooth at least 10 times, too.
- Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth last.
Because your toothbrush won't reach between your teeth, brushing alone won't keep your teeth clean and healthy. Flossing can help. A floss threader, available from us or a pharmacy, helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day, like this:
- Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
- Pull the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins.
- Rinse with lots of clean water, and watch your teeth and braces sparkle.
You should be brushing at least three times a day - once at breakfast, at lunch and before you go to bed. If you are not able to brush after you eat, be sure to rinse thoroughly with water, and NEVER skip brushing at night before you go to bed.