Caring for Braces
Although patients are able to eat or drink many foods while in orthodontic treatment, there are certain eating habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and braces as well as increasing the risk of dental problems. Our aim is to allow our patients to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances due to appliance breakage as possible, and to minimize the side effects of poor food choices and poor oral hygiene. Remember, teeth move their best in a healthy environment and in individuals with excellent overall dental heath. Patient cooperation is key to successful orthodontics.
What foods should I avoid?
Food and drink your dentist has suggested may cause dental decay should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. These foods stick to your braces and remain on your teeth for long periods of time. If foods or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterwards. Snacks should be confined to foods without refined sugar and should be followed by brushing or vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is unavailable.
Wearing braces limits the foods that you are permitted to eat. Improper foods can bend and distort wires causing treatment delays and extra visits for repairs. In general hard, brittle, crunchy and sticky foods should NOT be eaten during orthodontic treatment. Hard crunchy foods can bend a and break the braces and wires, while sticky foods may loosen them. Certain foods may be eaten if they are prepared in a special way. Whole fruits and vegetables or any raw foods such as apples, celery and carrots should be sliced and eaten carefully. Hard crusty breads should be broken and eaten in small pieces. Corn may be eaten if sliced off the cob.
Do not suck on lemons or limes (citric acid in juice can dissolve tooth enamel) and especially do not suck or chew ice cubes. Chewing ice cubes can be very destructive to your appliances and teeth. Keep fingernails, pencils and other objects out of your mouth. Do not put anything in your mouth that may tend to end, break, pry, pull or knock off the braces. Popcorn can cause harm in multiple ways. The husks from the popcorn can become lodged beneath the braces and cause irritation of the gum tissue. Unpopped kernels can shear or break off brackets as well as bend or dislodge wires.
The following is a list of only some of the foods you should avoid as you should use your own good judgment while eating anything. No matter what you eat, please clean the teeth and gum tissue thoroughly after eating any food and especially before bedtime.
Here are some tips on the types of foods to avoid:
Nuts, peanut brittle
Gum – no way
Taffy and Caramels
Milk Duds etc.
Be careful with these foods:
Carrots – grate or cut into tiny pieces
Apples – cut into wedges – don’t bite
Hard French bread – tear into small pieces
Limit foods with a high sugar content
The acids produced by high sugar content foods can attack for twenty minutes or more each time you eat. So, the best time to eat carbohydrates or other sugary foods is during a meal. The mouth produces more saliva during a meal which, in turn, helps to neutralize acid production and rinse food from the mouth. If possible, brush immediately after eating. If it is not possible to do so, rinsing with clear water will help.
Other Orthodontic “No-Nos”:
Pushing your tongue against your teeth
Chewing on pencils or pens
Tearing things with your teeth
Biting your fingernails
Dental Hygiene during Treatment
As you eat, your teeth, braces and appliances collect food. If food is left on teeth overnight, a thick plaque forms on the teeth and gums. Plaque causes bad-breath, tooth decay and gum disease (swollen, puffy, red, overgrown, or bleeding gums). Drinks and foods containing sugar can damage the tooth surfaces and gum tissue. Bleeding and swollen gums are a sure sign that plaque is not being properly removed. If your gums are swollen and inflamed your teeth will not move as easily, you will experience more discomfort during your treatment and white spots or decay will form on the teeth under and around the braces and appliances. It is discouraging to work hard to straighten teeth, only to finish and find decay or white spots on the teeth. The following is essential for the proper care of your teeth and gums:
Waterpik- We highly recommend the use of a Waterpik to loosen food and plaque before flossing and brushing. The Waterpik should be used on the lower water pressure settings so the gum tissue is not excessively irritated. The use of a Waterpik does not take the place of good toothbrushing.
Dental Floss – Although somewhat time-consuming, dental floss should be used when wearing braces or appliances. Floss at least once per day just before bedtime and use a floss threader if necessary.
Soft Bristled Toothbrush – Use your toothbrush after each meal and before bedtime. A travel brush carried in a purse or placed in a locker is great for brushing after lunch. Examine your teeth for food and plaque and thoroughly clean all surfaces of the gums, teeth and braces. Re-examine your teeth to make sure all visible food and plaque have been removed. Repeat this step as often as needed to assure that no visible plaque or food remains. Extra care must be taken in the area between your gums and the braces. Concentrate on brushing your gums and the gumline as well as your teeth.
Electric Toothbrush – Although it is not absolutely necessary for good hygiene, an electric toothbrush may make brushing easier.
A Few Tricks – Since most patients watch some TV, we have found it to be effective to sit down in front of the TV daily with a toothbrush without toothpaste, and massage the teeth and gums with the toothbrush bristles for about 30 minutes. Thirty minutes gives you plenty of time to do a good job, and makes TV time more productive. Brushing while listening to music or studying is also acceptable. You may want to use toothpaste to freshen your breath, but don’t use toothpaste during this 30 minutes. We want you to avoid the “once over lightly” technique. To concentrate better, you may use your left hand if you are right handed, and vice versa. The most important time to brush is just before going to bed. Take your time and do it right.
Regular Dental Checkups – Although you are having your braces checked regularly, it is very important to continue to see your family dentist at least every six months for a thorough examination and cleaning of your teeth. If you experience difficulty with good oral hygiene you my need to see your dentist more frequently.
Click here for more information on taking care of your teeth.
Q: Are you taking new patients?
A: New patients are always welcome. Contact us today to make a new patient appointment and discover a whole new way to experience dentistry! We are proud of the services we provide and appreciate your referrals of family and friends.
Q: Is it going to hurt?
A: Dentistry has come a long way over the years and both dental and hygiene visits are now even more comfortable than ever.
Q: What can I expect at my first visit?
A: At your first visit you will be welcomed by a member of our Client Care Staff who will offer you a beverage while you take a moment to fill out a medical questionnaire. Once you have completed your questionnaire, our Treatment Coordinator will escort you to a private meeting room to take your personal information for our files. This is also your opportunity to ask questions, express concerns and learn about the many dental services provided at Image Dental Studio.
You will then have a full examination by Dr. Michael Opler in order to assess your needs. It is our goal to provide all of our patients with the very best care in a comfortable and casual setting. We are always enhancing our services and welcome suggestions and comments from our clients. We look forward to meeting you and your family at your first visit.
Q: How can I reach you in case of emergency?
A: We are concerned about your oral health 24/7. Dr. Opler carries a pager and may be reached after hours using the phone number provided to you by our treatment staff. We strive to ensure we are available should you have an emergency. In the event that Dr. Opler is out of town, emergency numbers are provided on our answering service.
Q: How often should I have my teeth cleaned?
A: We recommend that you have your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist at least every six months and every three to four months should you have periodontal disease. Our hygienists are experienced professionals who can recommend the treatment that is best for you.
Q: Where can I park?
A: For your convenience, parking is available to the back of our office. However, should the parking lot be full when you arrive for your appointment, we recommend parking on the street between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. or at the free parking lot just past Centre Street on the west side of Yonge Street. Please see our directional map available on our Web site.
Q: If I have to have freezing, will it hurt and how long will it last?
A: Freezing is no longer a painful procedure. We first apply a topical gel that numbs the gums even before we give freezing to make the experience much more comfortable. Freezing generally lasts between 2 and 5 hours depending on the procedure.
Q: If my insurance isn�t willing to pay, does that mean the treatment isn�t necessary?
A: Our job is to recommend the best treatment for you. Insurance policies vary depending on the package your employer purchased. Insurance policies have general allowances for a great number of employees and do not look at the specific needs of the individual. Denial of coverage does not in anyway reflect the necessity of the treatment, but rather the contract�s limitations on eligible procedures.
Q: Can I still have treatment if I am pregnant?
A: Pregnant women tend to experience swollen and tender gums during pregnancy. This is due to the excess of hormones in the body, so extra attention should be paid to the teeth and gums during this time. We do not recommend x-rays unless absolutely necessary or bleaching your teeth while pregnant. However, the majority of procedures are safe for expecting mothers. It is often recommended that elective procedures be done after the first trimester. Massage mats, gel eye packs, pillows and blankets are available for your added comfort.
Q: What do you have available for anxiety?
A: Many people suffer from anxiety so you are not alone. We offer nitrous oxide for those patients who feel they can benefit from a relaxant during their appointment. The nitrous oxide (laughing gas) does not have a lingering effect so you can drive home right after your appointment. Patients who wish to have nitrous oxide are asked to refrain from eating 2 hours prior to their appointment to avoid upset stomach.
Q: What type of dental floss should I use?
A: There are many dental floss products on the market, but we like to recommend Glide floss as it never shreds and is easy to use. Ask us for a free sample at your next visit!
Q: My son wants to pierce his tongue. Should I be concerned?
A: There are many risks associated with tongue piercing including nerve damage, swelling, infection, bad breath, cracked and broken teeth, gum recession, and impaired speech to name only a few. We strongly recommend that anyone wanting to have their tongue pierced speak to a dental professional and become fully informed before making any decisions.
Q: Does my home water filter remove fluoride from the water?
A: Water filters do not remove fluoride.
Q: Does bottled water contain fluoride?
A: Bottled water does not contain fluoride. Most toothpaste will supply an adequate amount of fluoride.
Q: How often should I brush?
A: We recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice daily, morning and night.
Q: Do whitening toothpastes really work?
A: Whitening toothpastes help to remove plaque and stain, but will not whiten the teeth significantly. There are several whitening products on the market that are much more effective.
Q: Do the whitening products you can buy in the drugstore work?
A: In some cases, yes. Please ask your dentist which whitening product is right for you. There are many factors, which could affect the success of the whitening process.
Q: Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?
A: In most cases, electric brushes are more effective in removing plaque and bacteria. Ask your dentist which one is right for you.