Life Hacks For Living With Braces
Are braces in your near future? If so, we predict you might have some questions about what’s in store. We aren’t fortune tellers, but we do know a thing or two about what lies ahead for you and your new smile. Getting braces is making a commitment to your future self and it comes with a lot of responsibility. There are a few areas you might want to brush up on before your teeth get their new gear: pain management, cleaning, diet, and confidence. Think of us as your personal tooth fairies, except we’ll leave you with valuable life hacks instead of creeping under your pillow to leave a dollar.
A Little Pain, Major Gain
Unfortunately, this is a “grin and bear it” situation. Part of the process of getting your braces on will be uncomfortable at times, but it won’t last and will get easier. Moving your teeth around is no easy feat, and it takes a lot of pressure to adjust your smile. The application of constant pressure through adjustment of the wires can cause soreness and discomfort.
When rubber bands or spacers are added into the mix, this can amplify the tension you may feel. The good news is it is definitely worth the stress your mouth may undergo, and your new grin will speak for itself. You will likely get used to the periods of discomfort as time goes on, but there are ways to soothe your smile if it becomes too uncomfortable.
Getting ahead of the hurt and managing discomfort is simple. Remember to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen before your appointment. Once you’ve had your braces put on or an adjustment done, you can use a hot/cold application method. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water and then apply an ice pack to the most bothersome area. This tactic is widely used for a number of injuries. Alternating between temperatures will help calm down the discomfort.
Asking your orthodontist for wax to apply to your brackets or any poking wires will ensure you don’t get any annoying cuts inside your mouth. Lastly, applying topical anesthetics can numb any sore spots. They work the same way as when you have a problem area on your gum line or because of a toothache.
Keeping Teeth in Tip-Top Shape
Taking care of your teeth is extremely important to your overall health, and adding braces on top of your regular routine requires extra attention. You’ll need to brush and floss more than usual, making sure to remove any food residue that could be stuck between brackets.
It’s much easier for food to get lodged in hard-to-reach places and then turn into plaque. If you aren’t keeping up with routine maintenance while you’re wearing braces, once they’re removed it could result in unsightly stains on the surface of your teeth. Thankfully, there are several tips you can chew on to avoid some major mistakes.
Buy yourself a proxabrush (otherwise known as a “Christmas tree brush”) to help you better clean between brackets and wires. This brushing technique can be added to your regular routine. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste will not only help remove plaque and buildup, but it is formulated for tooth sensitivity which you may encounter during your time with braces. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at a 45-degree angle and switching between horizontal and vertical motions, taking the time to focus on different areas of the mouth. Flossing is still vital to your oral hygiene, but it can be tricky using traditional floss while wearing braces. Add a water-flosser to your routine to ensure you’re getting the spaces between your teeth as clean as possible.
Food Friends and Foes
Some of these might be self-explanatory, but we want to make sure we are covering all the braces bases. There are definitely some grub that will be your best bud while other foods you’ll need to avoid at all costs.
Eating with braces can get tough (and messy) so understanding what will work best for you beforehand will help you steer clear of food faux pas. You might find yourself missing some of your favorites, but the smile you’ve been waiting for will make it taste even sweeter in the end.
Right after you get your braces on and after adjustment appointments, your teeth will likely be extra-sensitive. Fill yourself up with foods like noodles, scrambled eggs, smoothies, and yogurt as they are full of nutrients and semi-dense. Choose foods that are soft and especially cold directly after an appointment, and take two to three days to ease yourself back into eating more solid snacks.
There are a few items we kindly urge you not to indulge in as they will wreak havoc on your treatment timeline (and make our jobs a lot harder). Do not go near chewy/gummy candies (caramel, taffy), nuts or other crunchy foods, chewing gum, or hard candy. These foods can break your wires or brackets or get seriously stuck in between. We promise, it is worth the wait!
Learning to Love Your New Smile
Perhaps the hardest part of this whole braces thing is adjusting to your new smirk. It can be an awkward time figuring out how to grin in pictures or liking the way your new gear looks in the mirror. We promise, you aren’t the first one to feel this way and most certainly will not be the last. There is a secret to getting over this: enjoy the journey! You are on your way to a brand new you and are getting the chance to have a whole new smile for the rest of your life. The best part? You did all of the hard work and earned your new chompers!
There are tons of ways to connect with others going through the same struggles you are, and they might even have some tips that we haven’t heard of before. Get colorful with your braces! Change up the colors on your brackets or rubber bands. Read about someone else’s braces tale or write a journal about your own journey. Check out a show that touches on the dramatic, silly parts of being a “brace face” or create your own play to show your friends what it is like.
Whatever you choose to do to express yourself, it will help you make sense of this time in life and learn to love the metal in your mouth. We can’t wait to see what you come up with and are so excited to be here to watch your story unfold.
At Milnor Orthodontics, our experts are here to help you achieve a priceless smile. Call our office at (970) 230-3187 or visit milnororthodontics.com to learn more. We're located at 1103 S. Shields St. in Fort Collins, Colorado.