Wearing braces – what to expect

You can eat almost any food without damaging your appliances; however, special care must be taken. Patients are advised to avoid hard, chewy, sticky foods because they are likely to loosen brackets and bend arch wires. Following these guidelines will help minimize the need for repairs and unnecessary visits back to the orthodontist.

Foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, chewy breads and pizza crust need to be cut into small pieces and chewed with your back teeth. Avoid or limit high sugar content foods such as candy, cakes, cookies, soft drinks, etc. as these foods tend to promote decay. If you eat these foods brush your teeth or rinse your mouth out with water right away.

Also, eating hard nuts and biting on nails and pencils/pens will also dislodge brackets and warrant a trip back to the orthodontist. If you have a loose bracket and it is still attached to the wire, please leave it. If the bracket is bothering you, put soft wax on it so it does not irritate your lips or gums. If the bracket comes off, please save it and bring it in with you to your next appointment.

It is possible that during the course of treatment you may experience some difficulties with your arch wire. Here are some hints to help you until your orthodontist can see you:

1.Wire out of a molar tube – Try to place wire back into the tube using tweezers. Place wax over wire.

2.Rotated arch wire -Try to slide the wire back around to the other side. If unsuccessful, place wax on any wire ends that could be sticking out.

3.Poking wire – Cover with soft wax provided by your orthodontist.

4.Broken wire – Remove the broken portion of the wire if possible. Place wax over the exposed end.

A few hours after you have your braces placed, you may feel discomfort later that evening or the next morning. This discomfort will usually last for 3-4 days and is a result of your teeth moving. Take whatever pain reliever you normally take and a soft diet is recommended.

Initially, the cheeks and tongue may chafe from rubbing against the brackets and bands (braces on the back teeth), and at times ulcers may form. This is not uncommon. Wax may be used when required in these situations.  Do inform your orthodontist as he/she may be able address your problem.

It usually takes about a week or two to get used to the your braces.

With conventional fixed braces and clear aligners such as Invisalign, speech will not be impeded or affected. If your treatment requires you to have a removable appliance in the upper jaw or palatal expander at the roof of your mouth, these appliances may interfere with your speech. Similarly, lingual braces will also take some time to adapt to and for your speech to be normalized.

All about Retainers

Your orthodontic treatment is finally completed, and your braces are removed, as Dr Geraldine will always say, now comes the most important part of the treatment –retainers! You will need retainers to hold your teeth in their beautiful new positions. Without retainers, your teeth will start to shift back to their original positions, especially during the first month.

There are various types of retainers, they can be classified as removable retainers or fixed retainers.

Removable retainers can come in the form of a Hawley retainer that has a wire across the front teeth, or a clear plastic retainer. Fixed retainers come in the form of a wire ‘permanently’ bonded behind the teeth where it will remain for several years. It is commonly placed on the lower teeth, and in selected cases, on the upper teeth as well, although it can interfere with your bite and is more prone to breakage when it is placed behind the upper teeth.

If you are instructed to wear your retainer full time (day and night), don’t forget to take them off when you are eating, brushing your teeth and during active sports.

Dr Lee will advise you on the retention plan that best suits your needs. Generally, removable retainers are to be worn full (day and night) for at least 6 months, and night time wear thereafter for the next few years. If you have a fixed retainer, you will only need to wear your clear retainer at night.

To clean your retainer, simply brush your retainer under running water whenever you brush your teeth. You can also use a retainer cleaner to freshen it up and keep it extra clean.  Do not soak it in hot water as it would distort and not fit anymore.

Always keep your retainer in the hard case provided by the clinic whenever you are not wearing it. Refrain from wrapping the retainer in a piece of tissue paper, as there is a high chance you may throw it away accidentally.