Skip to main content

Welcome to our latest blog post at OPDSF Ortho, your trusted orthodontist in San Francisco, CA. Today, we’re diving into everything you need to know about living with braces. Whether you’re just starting your orthodontic journey or are looking for ways to enhance your experience, we’ve got you covered with practical advice on diet, oral hygiene, and managing discomfort.

Woman Practicing Orthodontic Hygiene in San Francisco, California

Understanding Braces

Before we delve into the tips and tricks, let’s briefly explain what braces are and how they work. Braces are dental devices used to correct misaligned teeth and jaws, promoting an optimal bite and improving dental health. The teeth move by applying continuous gentle pressures from the archwires onto the braces. We have self-ligating braces which allow this phenomenon to occur without the need to continually change the “o” rings that used to wrap around the wings of the braces. The locking front door on the braces is the secret in engaging the archwire.

Dietary Tips for Braces Wearers

Adjusting your diet is crucial when wearing braces to avoid damaging them and to ensure your treatment progresses smoothly.

  • Soft Foods are Key: Stick to soft foods like yogurt, smoothies, and soups during the first few days after adjustments when teeth are typically more sensitive.
  • Avoid Chewy, Hard, Sticky and Hard Foods: Foods like caramel, nuts, and popcorn can damage brackets and wires, so it’s best to avoid them. Following this advice will likely avoid dental decay and white spot formations and minimize orthodontic emergency visits.

Oral Hygiene Best Practices

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is more important than ever with braces, as food particles can easily get trapped.

  • Brushing and Flossing: Brush after every meal using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily using tools like floss threaders or water flossers designed for braces. Electric toothbrush e.g. Oral-B or Sonicare that charges with a wall socket is a good option especially if you find challenges in keeping up with daily good oral hygiene practice.
  • Regular Check-ups: Continue with regular dental check-ups and cleanings to ensure optimal dental health. It is recommended that you have 3-monthly visits with your general dentist or pediatric dentist. This is particularly critical in adults should you have gum recession or have existing gum disease associated with bone loss. Alternate gum assessment and gum maintenance with your general dentist and a periodontist (gum specialist) may be a good option after when your gum condition is stabilized.

Managing Discomfort

It’s normal to experience some discomfort when you have braces, especially after adjustments.

  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers e.g. Tylenol can be effective. Always follow the recommended dosage. Most of the patient’s experience is more of a mild discomfort especially in the first few days and it tapered off over the next two weeks. Should you experience more discomfort than usual, we can lower the force delivery with even gentler archwires – just let us know.
  • Oral Anesthetics: Gels or ointments e.g. Orajel can be applied directly to the gums and teeth to temporarily alleviate pain.

FAQs: Living with Braces

How long will I need to wear braces?

The duration varies depending on individual needs and complexity of treatment. It typically ranges from 15 months to 24 months. In some adult selected cases, the mild malalignment can be accomplished as fast as six months.

Mouth Guard Can I still play sports or instruments?

Yes, but consider using a mouth guard for sports, and you may need some time to adjust to playing wind or brass instruments. Choose a mouth guard without the “tongue facing” barrier if possible to maximize comfort and fit.

At OPDSF Ortho in San Francisco, CA, we are committed to making your orthodontic experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. If you have any more questions or need support, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our practice. Remember, every step you take in caring for your braces brings you closer to that perfect smile.

By providing detailed and helpful information, this blog will not only enhance the patient experience but also help reduce common issues and anxieties associated with orthodontic treatment. With these tips and the support of OPDSF Ortho, you can navigate your braces journey with confidence.