The Do’s and Don’ts of Living with Braces
Braces wearer, heed these eight commandments!
You’ve taken that first big step and gotten braces fitted. Good for you! If you’re worried about what lies ahead, don’t be! Living with braces will take some getting used to but once you’ve cleared that initial hurdle, you’ll be on a much smoother path to straight teeth. To help you along, we’ve put together our top eight tips — four do’s and four don’ts for caring for your braces.
1. Do brush your teeth after every meal
To keep swollen gums and tooth decay at bay, take care to brush your teeth, paying particular attention to the areas around your braces, after eating. Your dentist should have recommended an orthodontic brush and proximal brush — use them! You can also choose to add fluoride mouthwash to your routine for an extra oral hygiene boost.
2. Do take painkillers
It’s normal to feel discomfort in the few days after getting your braces fitted or after you’ve had them adjusted. Instead of suffering through it, get some relief from mild, over-the-counter painkillers. A soft food diet should also help.
3. Do use dental wax
If you feel your lips or cheeks rubbing against your braces, place a small amount of dental wax on the bracket to minimise friction. Ignore it and you could end up with painful ulcers!
4. Do get regular scaling and polishing
Now that you’re wearing braces, it’s essential that you get professional scaling and polishing done every six months. This will go a long way in preventing gum problems and tooth decay.
5. Don’t eat hard, chunky and sticky food
Corn on the cob
Meat on the bone
Chewing on pencils
Chewing on pens
Chewing on ice
Kettle cooked chips
Mac n cheese
Rice and gravy
Rice and beans
You can still enjoy your favourite foods while wearing braces but there are a couple of things to remember. For one week after getting your braces fitted, stick to a soft food diet — you don’t want hard foods to break your brackets!
Even after the initial period, biting into large, tough food (like whole apples, nuts and corn on the cob) can still damage your braces so be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces before enjoying. Hard and sticky sweets like toffee, caramel and chewing gum are a no-no as they could pull your brackets and wires right off! Now’s also the time to kick that ice-crunching habit. Ice cubes could soften, distort or even break the wires on your braces.
6. Don’t drink sodas and fizzies
Carbonated beverages, packaged fruit juices and energy drinks are high in sugars and acids, which can promote demineralisation and tooth decay. It’s safer to steer clear of these and opt for water or unsweetened drinks.
7. Don’t try to adjust your braces yourself
If a bracket comes loose, you could be tempted to adjust it yourself. When the wire starts poking your cheek, you could think that a quick snip is all it takes. Well, don’t! Get an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible so they can fix it while ensuring that your treatment stays on track.
8. Don’t skip your appointments
When you agreed to braces, you also agreed to regular dental appointments, so don’t skip out on them now! Keeping to the schedule allows your dentist to adjust your braces as planned, so you get that beautiful smiles without unnecessary delays.
Considering braces? Consult a qualified dentist to learn more about the teeth straightening options available for you!
This article was contributed by Dr. Gwen Ho Chew Han from i.Dental. Now a general practitioner dentist in the orthodontics field, Gwen was formerly the head of a dental polyclinic branch, worked in the National Dental Centre and served as a clinical instructor to dental therapists in Health Promotion Board’s School Dental Service division.