Life with Braces

The adhesive used for attaching the braces to your teeth cures rapidly initially but takes 24 hours to completely cure. You can eat anytime after leaving our office. However, we ask that you be mindful of the suggested list of foods that may be harmful to the braces. Until you become accustomed to eating with your new braces, you may find it beneficial to follow a diet consisting of soft foods.

Will the braces cause discomfort?

Initially the braces feel like they stick out. This is normal. As you become accustomed to your braces and tooth alignment improves, this sensation will disappear and will cease to be a concern. Although the brackets have been rounded and smoothed, until the cheek tissues have toughened, you may find it helpful to use a small piece of beeswax around the bracket that is creating the irritation. You will probably notice some discomfort beginning a few hours after your braces are placed. Some teeth, usually the front teeth, may be tender and sensitive to pressure. Occasionally, patients report they experience no discomfort, but most have some soreness during the first eight hours, dissipating within the week. Exactly when the discomfort ceases is impossible to predict and differs from patient to patient. You may wish to take non-prescription pain remedies commonly used for other discomforts such as headaches. For maximum effectiveness, it may be best to take such medications before the discomfort begins.

Before leaving the office

We ask that you take a few routine steps at each visit prior to leaving the office. These steps will minimize discomfort related to irritation from the braces and ensure an optimal response to treatment:

  • Use your finger and tongue to check and see that the wire ends do not extend into areas that might poke or scratch the cheek or tongue.
  • Make sure you understand what you need to do until your next appointment. This could include wearing headgear or elastics as instructed, adjusting the expander or following specific hygiene or diet instructions.
  • Make sure you have an adequate supply of dental wax, special cleaning aids, elastic bands, or other related materials you may need between appointments.
  • Always schedule your next appointment before leaving the office. Waiting 1-2 weeks after an appointment before scheduling your next office visit complicates the scheduling process, since appointments are set 4-8 weeks in advance. Postponing appointments is a common contributor to overtime treatment.

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat! If you’ve been looking for a way to drop a few pounds, the first week wearing braces is just your chance! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces.

Orthodontic Diet Chart

    Absolutely No:

  • Gum – sugarless or otherwise
  • Caramels
  • Caramel Apples
  • Toffee
  • Licorice
  • Gummy Bears
  • Now & Laters
  • Starbursts
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Sugar Babies
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Apples or Carrots (unless cooked or cut into small pieces)
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Hard Candy
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Bagels
  • Pizza Crusts
  • Jerky
  • Hard Pretzels
  • Ice
  • Doritos
    Eat Much Less:

  • Candy
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Pie
  • Foods with sugar
    Drink Much Less:

  • Soda Pop
  • Drinks with sugar
  • Avoiding Chewing on Pencils and fingernails

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, 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 saltwater rinse, 2 to 4 times day. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take what you or your child would normally take for headache or similar pain. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry! It’s normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new, corrected positions.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.

Brushing and Flossing with Braces

It is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the general dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

  • Brush 4 times a day: morning, noon, dinner, bedtime, basically brush every time you eat
  • Brush under, above, behind and around ALL surfaces of the teeth AND braces
  • Brush inside and outside of both top and bottom gums
  • Rinse mouth thoroughly after brushing

Retainer Care and Use

  • Wear your retainers full time until the doctor instructs otherwise
  • Take your retainers out when eating – and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Water should be warm, but not hot. Brushing retainers removes plaque and eliminates odors. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but these do not take the place of brushing.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to your braces more quickly.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, call us immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself.
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.


If you play sports, it’s important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouth guard is necessary for anyone playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.