Life with Braces

Orthodontic appliances need to be cared for properly in order for them to be effective. With careful monitoring by Dr. Swan, optimal oral hygiene, and great at-home compliance, you’ll have the smile you’ve always wanted in no time!

Braces at Swan Orthodontics

From your first visit on, you will notice the difference between Swan Orthodontics and other practices in the Grand Rapids area. Our friendly staff will be there to greet you and take you through the new patient process. We will offer an office tour, a free consultation, and a customized treatment plan. After you discuss the treatment plan with Dr. Swan, she will answer any questions you may have. We then discuss the cost of treatment and offer several affordable payment options. If you are ready to begin treatment the same day, we are too!

Wires, brackets, and bands are used to gently correct the placement of teeth over time, and are meant to stay in place. If you notice that a wire or band is moving, please call our office immediately. If you do not address the issue right away, it could delay progress and extend treatment time.

Your orthodontic treatment is specific to your needs, so the length of your treatment will vary based on your treatment stage and what treatments are needed. On average, patients are in braces about 18 to 24 months for comprehensive treatment. During active treatment, we will want to see you every four to eight weeks for checkups, wire changes, and adjustments.

Eating with Braces

While it may require some adjustment, a few months of refraining from the “foods to avoid
 list are worth a lifetime of beautiful smiles!

Foods to enjoy:

You can enjoy a variety of softer foods including but not limited to:

  • Dairy: pudding, soft cheeses, ice cream, ice cream, peanut butter cups
  • Breads: sliced lunch bread, soft tortillas, muffins without nuts, biscuits
  • Meats/ Poultry: Soft-cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Fruits: Applesauce, bananas, fruit juice, strawberries, grapes
  • Other: Eggs, hotdogs, hamburgers, chili, beans, O-Ke-Doke Popcorn (the husks are removed)

Crunchy foods, like apples, carrots, celery, pizza crust, potato chips, and taco shells, can be cut up into small bite-sized pieces.

Foods to avoid:

You should avoid crunchy, sticky, chewy, and hard foods including:

  • Hard foods: popcorn, nuts, pretzels, ice, hard candy, and jerky
  • Sticky foods:  taffy, caramels, skittles, starburst, fruit rollups, gum, and chewy candy
  • Sugary foods

You should also avoid thumb sucking, and chewing on nails and pen caps, which can cause damage.

Decalcification is the irreversible white staining that occurs on teeth that have not been cared for properly. Sweetened beverage use while your braces are in place can contribute to this process, so make sure to rinse with water or brush after consumption of sports drinks, flavored milk, flavored water, energy drinks, or soda.

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is a large part of maintaining your appliance. Brushing and flossing will take more time and effort with an appliance in your mouth, but the end results will make it worth it!

Brushing and flossing with braces can be very difficult, but needs to be done after every meal and snack to prevent discoloration, decay, and bacteria build up. It should be done a minimum of three times a day for at least two minutes, preferably with an electronic toothbrush. If plaque is not removed, it can cause swollen gums, bad breath, decay, and decalcification.

Make sure you brush above and below the brackets as well as the gum line. Brush a second time if plaque is still present! Use a small proxy brush for hard to reach areas. Floss at least once a day using a floss threader under the wires and between each tooth, all the way down to the gum line. Be careful not to pull the wire when removing the floss!

Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you everywhere so you do not miss brushing your teeth after meals! If you happen to forget your toothbrush and toothpaste, at a minimum swish with water after every meal and snack.

Dealing with Discomfort

Braces are meant to move teeth, so if you notice that your teeth are more wiggly than usual, this is expected; however, if you feel a tooth is excessively wiggly, feel free to address the concern with us. 

When wires and bands are first placed, they may make your mouth tender because they are encouraging your teeth to move. Over time, your teeth will shift into place, and will become comfortable.

If you find your braces are uncomfortable, try an over-the-counter headache medication and dental wax to remove the discomfort.

Keeping Appointments

It is VERY important that you come into our Grand Rapids orthodontic office for your follow-up visits. We carefully monitor your progress, as well as your overall oral care, to ensure that you will end up with the intended results. If you delay or miss appointments, it can lead to extended care time and negative results. 

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