Kara Johansen BSRDH
If you have ever had braces you know that there are many annoying side effects of working towards a beautiful, healthy, straight smile. Often orthodontic problems that can be taken care of at home before you can make it to your orthodontist office. Here is a list of tips to help the fellow brace face 🙂
Newly tightened braces-
Each time you get your braces tightened it means one step closer to removing them. However, it does make your teeth ache. They can be sore for 3-5 days. One study stated that 91% of adolescents had tooth discomfort during the process of having braces. (1)
- Before you go into have your teeth adjusted it has been suggested to take an ibuprofen. Remember to only take the medication as directed on the bottle. Take the ibuprofen with milk or food to avoid a stomach ache.
- After the appointment stick with soft foods like soup or smoothies. Some have said that cool foods feel good on newly tightened teeth.
- One study stated that chewing sugar free gum after the procedure can cause relief. Aspergum, which is a gum with a little bit of aspirin had a good response in pain reduction. (2)
Sores from braces–
A common side effect of braces are cuts in the cheek or canker sores.
- A warm salt water rinse works wonders. Put a teaspoon of salt into a warm glass of water then swish and spit.
- Over the counter anesthetic gels have shown to give relief. Orabase or Oragel can help.
- A tea bag can be placed over the sore to help with sensitivity and inflammation.
Wire pocking lips and gums-
Sometimes when you are eating or brushing a twisted wire can be moved out of place. Remember that lots of times this situation can be avoided with eating the proper foods recommended by your orthodontist. There are a couple of solutions for this predicament.
- Flexible wires can slip out of the bracket slots on the back teeth. A sterile tweezer can be used to slip the wire into the tube and back into place.
- You can use the end of a pencil eraser to push the out of place wire behind the arch wire to make it more comfortable. Only do this on softer wires.
- Dental wax can also be used to be placed around the wire to protect your tissues until you can see your orthodontist to get it fixed.
Loose bracket or band-
If a bracket or band becomes loose you can place wax over the area to hold it into place. If it falls off, save it for when you go back to your orthodontist.
Swollen or puffy gums-
Proper oral hygiene is very important when you have braces. Improper oral hygiene can cause weakening of the enamel (white/dark brown spots), permanent inflamed gums, bleeding gums, halitosis, and cavities.
- Brush and floss after every meal. Most important is to brush and floss before you go to bed.
- If you have swollen gums call your general dentist to get a cleaning. It is a good idea to have cleanings every 3 months when you have braces instead of every 6 months. Have your arch wire taken out before your cleanings.
- Super Floss, floss threaders, interproximal brushes, and Platypus flossers are very helpful.
- Electronic toothbrushes are a better choice for cleaning your teeth and braces then a manual tooth brush. Water picks are also helpful to remove food debris.
2. Proffit W R. Contemporary orthodontics. 3rd edn. St Louis: The CV Mosby Company; 2000. [Ref list]