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Patient Resources

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Your Personal Guide to Braces and Aligners

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.

How long should I wear my aligners per day?

Wear your aligners for about 22 hours a day. You can take them off for eating, brushing, and flossing, but those are the only exceptions.

When you put your aligners in, make sure they grab all of your attachments if you have them. Massage the aligners onto the attachments each time you put them on. When you put in a new aligner, it may feel tight at first. That’s good! It means your teeth are moving. After a few days, the aligner should fit like a glove. If it doesn’t, go back to your last aligner and give us a call.

How do I keep my aligners clean?

Since aligners can be removed, you can eat pretty much anything you want, as long as you remove the aligners first. While wearing them, avoid beverages that contain sugar or pigment. Before putting your aligners back in after a meal, brush your teeth and rinse or brush your aligners with cool water and a toothbrush.

If you have trouble keeping your aligners clean, you can try using a product like Retainer Brite or another soaking agent. Or you can buy an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner on Amazon. Fill the ultrasonic cleaner with clean, cool water and let it run for about 20 minutes. You may want to do this first thing in the morning so your aligner is clean when you’re ready to start your day.

Many of our patients change their aligners weekly for good hygiene. Whatever you do, keep your aligners away from pets. They love to eat them.

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 Next Generation 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.

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Have a question that isn’t answered here? Give us a call or shoot us a message!

Phone
Bakersfield: 661.829.7970

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Gianquinto OrthoArts 
1400 Calloway Drive Suite 206
Bakersfield, CA 93312