Best Practices for Braces

girl in glasses smiling with braces

At Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, we provide dental braces for children and adults who may have crooked teeth that cause chewing problems, create difficulty during cleaning and an unaesthetic smile. Braces are an effective solution to several dental issues, but it’s important to follow a few simple practices after their installation to achieve the best results. Need some tips for living with braces? Here, we’ll explain the basics of braces care to help you get the most out of treatment.

Brush and Floss Your Teeth

Keeping your teeth clean is critical to your oral health even if you don’t have braces, as plaque buildup causes damage to your teeth and gums, which can lead to conditions like gingivitis (bleeding gums). Your braces add a new layer of complexity when it comes to brushing and flossing, but it’s important to do both regularly. Plaque gets stuck around the hardware of your braces, causing damage to your tooth enamel over time. Left unmanaged, this damage can cause permanent tooth staining, often highlighting where your braces used to be after their removal. Be sure to carefully brush around your braces and floss regularly to ensure that your teeth stay healthy.

Don’t Forget to Wear Your Gear

Sometimes it’s necessary for you to wear additional orthodontic headgear or a retainer to support the realignment of your teeth. As with any new routine, it’s easy to forget these items, and some patients do not like wearing them. Yet it’s important to wear any orthodontic appliances provided by your orthodontist, since  they are a necessary part of straightening your teeth.

You should also keep in mind that like braces themselves, these appliances are temporary. Failure to properly wear your gear as directed could prolong the time you need to wear braces or require additional methods of realignment.

Eating with Braces

Your orthodontist will provide a list of foods to avoid while wearing braces. These items can easily become stuck or even damage braces, so it’s essential that you eliminate them until your braces have been removed.

In general, you should avoid:

  • Chewy, sticky foods, such as soft candies, caramel, and gum
  • Seeds, kernels, and nuts
  • Hard foods, like chips and crackers
  • Foods you must sink your teeth into, such as whole apples, burgers, and corn on the cob
  • Dark-colored and/or sugary beverages, like sodas

Instead, stick to foods that are safe for braces and easy to eat – and easy to remove from the teeth when brushing – such as:

  • Pasta
  • Soft and cut fruits
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Tender meat
  • Smooth nut spreads

Avoid These Bad Habits

You’ll quickly grow accustomed to your braces, and over time, you might even forget they’re there. This makes the process easier and more comfortable, but you should still keep a few bad habits for braces at top of mind to protect yours. Make sure to avoid:

  • Chewing your nails or other objects
  • Using your teeth to open packages and wrappers
  • Brushing your teeth with too much force
  • Sucking your thumb

While you won’t have to make major lifestyle changes with braces, it’s important that you don’t develop habits that can jeopardize their effectiveness or integrity.

Learn More about Orthodontics Today

If you or your child need braces or other orthodontic care, contact Rutgers Health University Dental Associates at Newark by calling 973-972-2444 or at New Brunswick by calling 732-235-5050. Our board-certified certified orthodontists, who are Rutgers School of Dental Medicine faculty members, will assess your teeth and determine whether braces and other treatments are right for you. To learn more, make an appointment today.