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Caring for teeth with braces

Orthodontics, including braces, are designed to help improve the appearance and position of a person's teeth.

However, their wires, springs and bands can attract food and plaque, which can stain your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Extra tooth brushing may be needed while using orthodontics and the orthodontist may recommend the use of toothpaste with high levels of fluoride or a fluoride mouthwash. They may also suggest some foods and drinks to avoid during treatment.

If a person neglects their oral hygiene while wearing braces, the orthodontic treatment may need to be stopped.

Foods to avoid while wearing braces

While wearing braces, most of the foods you like can still be eaten if you cut them into small pieces that can be easily chewed. There are certain foods, however, that can break or loosen your braces and should be avoided, such as:

  • Hard or tough to bite foods, such as apples or crusty rolls
  • Chewy foods, such as toffee or caramels
  • Corn on the cob
  • Popcorn, nuts, and carrots

In addition to foods, do not chew ice or chewing gum.

Caring for removable braces

Every time you brush your teeth, brush your removable brace as well. Once a day or at least once a week, disinfect your removable brace by soaking it in a denture cleanser. Add the cleanser to a cup full of warm, but never hot, water. Thoroughly rinse the removable brace with plain water before placing it back in your mouth.

Playing sport while wearing braces

You can continue to participate in any sport you choose when you have braces. When playing sport where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouthguard will need to be worn. The mouthguard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over your braces and will protect the soft tissues inside your mouth.

What to do if a bracket or wire breaks

Broken braces, loose bands or protruding wires can cause problems but rarely require emergency treatment. However, do call your dentist or orthodontist to make an appointment to fix the problem. If you suffer a more severe mouth or facial injury, seek immediate help. Here are some tips to get you through some of the more common problems until you are able to see your dentist:

  • Loose brackets. Apply a small piece of dental wax to temporarily reattach loose brackets or place wax over the bracket to provide a cushion between the bracket and your gums and other soft tissues of your mouth. Your dentist or orthodontist usually provides dental wax to you when you first get your braces.
  • Loose bands. These will need to be replaced or re-cemented into place. Save the band and book an appointment for the repair.
  • Protruding or broken wire. Use the rubber end of a pencil to move the wire to a less bothersome position. If you can't move it out of the way, apply a small amount of dental wax over the protruding end. Do not attempt to cut the wire because you might accidentally swallow it or inhale it into your lungs. If a mouth sore develops from the wire poking the inside of your mouth, rinse your mouth with warm salt water or an antiseptic rinse. An over-the-counter dental anaesthetic can also be applied to numb the area.
  • Loose spacers. These will need to be repositioned or replaced if they slip or fall out completely.
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