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Life With Braces

The dreaded braces. It seems like everyone has had them, has them now or is going to have them. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in one of the last two categories. You may have a few questions and a little anxiety. What are they like? Do they hurt? What can you eat? How do you take care of them? Here are some answers to help you navigate the experience.


There’s no getting around this. Your mouth is going to feel pretty sore for the first few days after initially getting braces. But the good news is that it isn’t anything that a few over the counter pain killers can’t take care of. You won’t feel like chewing so this is a great time to indulge in your favorite soft ice cream, creamy mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese (after you mash up the pasta. Did I mention you won’t want to chew anything?) After the first day or two, you will be able to chew soft foods again and within a week or two, you will be back to normal.

Another time you may experience discomfort is when your braces are adjusted. You can head off this pain by taking over the counter pain killers just before your appointment. The discomfort of having braces adjusted is rarely as intense as the first time, so it’s possible you won’t need anything at all.

There may also be pain from the inside of your mouth getting used to having brackets and wires on your teeth. Swishing with warm salt water helps relieve the pain and has the added bonus of keeping the inside of your mouth clean. (Just don’t swallow). Drinking something cold may also help calm the irritation. You will be given some orthodontic wax for any bracket/wire parts that may poke into your mouth. Just roll a bit into a ball and after drying off the offending area, press into place. Then check with your orthodontist las cruces in New Mexico to see if an adjustment needs to be made.

My teeth feel loose!

Take this as a good sign. It means that the braces are doing their job of moving your teeth around. They will actually loosen and tighten multiple times over the course of treatment.

Foods to Avoid

To really answer this, you should understand that braces are made up of brackets that are glued to your teeth. Then a wire is inserted through the brackets. Brackets can be dislodged and the wire can bend or sometimes break when you bite down on hard, sticky or crunchy foods. Even when you’re trying to be careful.

Here are just a few of the foods you simply have to say goodbye to for a few months. But don’t despair. There are plenty of other allowable sweets out there. Who knows, you may find a new favorite.

Foods to Avoid: Caramels, Starbursts licorice, Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Skittles, popcorn, nuts, ice, anything else hard, sticky or crunchy.

The other way braces can be damaged is by tearing food with your teeth, like eating an ear of corn on the cob or biting into a whole apple. The good news about this category is that you can still enjoy these foods, you just need to do a little more prep.

Cut up: Nuts, crusty breads and thick bagels, raw fruits and veggies like apples or carrots. Pizza crust, corn on the cob. Anything else that is torn with your teeth

The list of foods you can eat is much longer than what you can’t. In general, keep things bite sized so the surfaces of your molars do most of the work.

Taking Care of Your Teeth/Braces After Treatment

You just increased the places where food can get stuck or hide in your mouth by a zillion percent. That means brushing and flossing your teeth will be a little more tedious and a lot more important.

To brush your teeth, start with a soft toothbrush. Holding it at a 45-degree angle, begin at the top and work in small circles. Cover all the surface of the tooth and hardware and the gum line. Holding the brush at an angle will help to get the bristles under the wires. Then reverse the angle and start at the bottom of your top teeth and do the same thing. Repeat these two steps for the bottom teeth. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal.

If you’ve never been much of a flosser, now is the time to pick up the habit. You can floss with a “threader” that gets the floss under the wire so you can floss in between two teeth. There are also individual floss strands where the ends have been hardened, allowing you to get under the wire with just the floss. Flossing seems to take the most time since the floss must be threaded in and out repeatedly. Try doing it while watching your favorite show or listening to music. Or invest in a water flosser and let the jet of water flush out whatever may be hiding.

Can I still do sports or play a musical instrument?

Yes to both. Depending on which sport or instrument, your orthodontist may recommend a mouth guard but generally braces don’t interfere with either.

What about eating in public?

Braces catch and hold onto whatever you are eating. This is a great time to finally pay attention to your mother’s advice to chew with your mouth closed. Keep a water bottle handy so you can periodically swish around a mouthful. It’s a great way to keep your braces food free while you are eating and talking. Another idea — use a smart phone camera flipped to you or keep a small mirror tucked in your pocket to check for stray bits of food.

And don’t forget to smile — in spite of all of those brackets, wires, rubber bands, headgear or appliances. You can be rightfully proud of the work you are doing now to have an even more amazing smile down the road. If you’re looking for the best orthodontist in Las Cruces, New Mexico, give us a call. We’d love to consult you and guide you along the right path. We look forward to hearing from you.