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Your Guide to Success with Braces and Retainers
What foods can I eat with braces?
Luckily, due to modern treatment technologies, the list of foods you can’t eat with braces is pretty short. Soft foods may be easier to eat with braces, but there’s no need to switch to a liquid diet or eat only soup.
Avoid nuts and sticky, hard, or crunchy foods and bread crusts, as they can lead to broken braces. If you eat something like pizza that you’ll bite with the front teeth, cut it into smaller pieces and eat it with a fork, using the back teeth if possible. Foods like corn on the cob and meat on the bone also need to be cut up, as do crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples.
If you still want to eat chips with braces, we recommend Pringles or Lay’s style chips. Avoid Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos, and Takis. Sadly, you’ll also want to avoid popcorn. This isn’t because it’s crunchy, but because the popped kernels get lodged in your gums, causing pain and infections.
You can still enjoy soda and sugary drinks, but you’ll want to limit them as much as possible, as it’s tough to get sugar off the teeth with appliances in the way, and sugar can cause cavities. This includes energy and sports drinks, hot chocolate, and sweetened coffee.
How do I keep my braces clean?
When you wear braces, it takes extra work to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Brush after every meal. Motorized toothbrushes are excellent for keeping the teeth clean, but regular toothbrushes work just fine as well. Pay special attention to the area between the braces and the gums. For flossing, we recommend a Waterpik. Be sure to floss every day to prevent cavities and other issues. And remember to visit your dentist regularly during orthodontic treatment.
We’ll check your oral hygiene at each appointment and help you care for your teeth and gums. If your gums are pink with no bleeding, your teeth are plaque-free, and your braces and wires are shiny with no plaque or food debris on them, then your oral hygiene is probably just fine. If problems develop, we’ll let you know. If necessary, we may take the braces off for a while to prevent damage.
I just got my braces off. How long should I wear my retainers per day?
Congrats on getting your braces off! The short answer to your question is: all day, every day. Until we tell you otherwise. That means full-time, 24/7, full stop, end of story. The only times you should take them off are when you’re eating, brushing, or flossing.
Why is it so important to wear your retainers full-time? Because after your braces come off, your teeth can still move. Don’t let them! You worked hard (and so did we) getting your smile where it is today. Don’t waste it! Wear your retainers!
Just got your braces off? Watch Dr. G explain how to wear your retainers (and why):
I’ve had my retainer check visit. Now what?
Great job wearing your retainers! Dr. G is proud. Now, you can switch to only wearing them at night—but this doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.
Remember, keeping your teeth straight is a commitment. You have to wear your retainers consistently for 8-10 hours per day for as long as you want to maintain your results. Sometimes this isn’t enough. If they start to feel too tight, you may have to switch back to wearing them all day for a few days. This can also happen if you skip wearing them for a few nights. TEETH CAN SHIFT FAST!!! DON’T LET THEM!
It’s also important to make sure your retainers are 100% effective. Which means you have to check your retainers for cracks, holes, etc. If you need new retainers, get them!
Watch Dr. G explain how to keep wearing your retainer after 6 weeks:
How do I care for my retainers?
Keep your retainers in their case, and store them in a safe place. Pets like to eat them and little kids like to play with them, so remember Dr. G’s favorite saying: “if it’s not in your face, it’s in your case.”
If something does accidentally happen to your retainers, we can make new ones for you—as long as you still have your 3D printed model. So keep that in a safe place too!
Retainers only last 1-2 years on average. When you need a new retainer, simply bring in your 3D model and we’ll make you a new one.
Do not just pop your retainers in your mouth and bite them into place. This will break them. Push them into place with your fingers.
To clean your retainers, use your toothbrush with cool or lukewarm water (no toothpaste), and gently brush them inside and out. You can also soak them in lukewarm water and use dish soap—just be sure to get it all off before putting the retainers back in, because dish soap does not taste good!
What should I do if my teeth hurt?
The orthodontic treatments we use are designed to be much more comfortable than traditional options. Even so, expect some minor discomfort as your teeth move into their new positions.
If you experience inflammation or discomfort during the first few days, try using Tylenol or acetaminophen. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin, which can slow down tooth movement. It may also help to eat soft foods for a few days.
The insides of your cheek and tongue take time to adjust to new appliances. If something is poky or sharp, cover it with wax (which we’ll provide) until you can make an appointment for us to fix it.
What do I do if my braces break?
If a brace is attached to the wire and moving around, this means it is broken. Unless the broken brace causes you pain, it’s not an emergency. Simply call our office for instructions.
If your next appointment is close, we’ll probably wait and fix it then. Otherwise, we may need to schedule an appointment for you to come in sooner so we can keep your teeth moving correctly. Our Stride braces move teeth so efficiently that if a single bracket comes lose, that tooth may be left behind as the others shift into their new positions.
Even if you have an appointment coming up in the very near future, please call us as soon as possible so we can plan ahead to fix your braces.
How do I play sports with braces?
You can do any physical activity with braces, just wear a mouthguard if you’re playing a contact sport like football or soccer. We recommend replacing aligners with a mouthguard as well.
The type of mouthguard you wear is important. Traditional “boil and bite” or semi-custom mouthguards fit tightly against the teeth and can prevent tooth movement or cause braces to break. Instead, we recommend using the Shock Doctor braces or double braces mouthguards. Don’t use the ultra braces model.
How do I find your office?
Look for us in the Plaza on Calloway directly behind Sugar Twist Bakery.
Have a question that isn’t answered here? Give us a call or shoot us a message!
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1400 Calloway Drive Suite 206
Bakersfield, CA 93312