As a patient of our practice, you will receive useful information each step of the way regarding all aspects of your treatments (retainers, headgear, braces, etc.) in the form of pamphlets or brochures. However, if you’ve just recently started thinking about orthodontics and want some more information about braces, we’ve provided a list of frequently asked questions that might help answer some of your questions.
Braces are devices which gently correct irregularities in the arrangement of your teeth. The structure of this appliance has several different parts, including:
Brackets: made of metal or ceramic, a bracket is attached to each tooth
Bonding Material (glue) or a metal band: these attach the bracket to the tooth
Arch Wire: a thin metal wire that runs through the brackets and creates pressure on the teeth. As your treatment progresses, Dr. Naficy will tighten this wire during each appointment.
After your braces are attached, Dr. Naficy will adjust the wire every four to six weeks, as the teeth are slowly pulled into position. He may also ask you to wear rubber bands (to add pinpoint pressure) or headgear, a metal brace that fits into slots in the brackets and wraps around the head, pulling the front teeth back.
Rubber bands help create more tension and pressure on the teeth to help aid your teeth in the right direction. Dr. Naficy may or may not give you rubber bands to use during the final phases of your treatment. If you are given rubber bands, we recommend you take them off before each meal and put in new ones after you are done eating. It is also helpful to change your rubber bands before you go to bed.
Orthodontic rubber bands are made of a certain grade of medical latex rubber which is similar to the kind used in medical implants. The rubber is thought to be safe for human consumption. However, we do not recommend swallowing them on a frequent basis!
Luckily, modern technology has allowed for many improvements to the design and function of braces in the last 20 years. These advancements have helped make wearing braces less painful but, at present, we still don’t know how to completely remove pain for our patients when braces are first put in or when the braces are being tightened. During your first week or so in braces, you or your child will experience some soreness and discomfort if braces rub up against the lips. However, after a few days, you’ll become accustomed to how they feel in your mouth and in about 10 days, you’ll hardly notice them at all.
If your gums or cheeks become irritated from rubbing against the brackets, Dr. Naficy and his staff will supply you with wax to smooth things over until the tissue heals.
Most foods are fine for you to eat while you have braces but we recommend you avoid foods that are chewy, hard, or crunchy because they can break wires and knock off brackets. Sugary foods can be a problem as well since sugar is easily trapped by your braces and this can cause cavities. Here is a list of problem foods we suggest you avoid:
Chewy or Sticky Foods
- Caramel, gummy candies
- Bagels, pizza crust (bite-sized pieces are OK)
- Dried fruits
Hard or Crunchy Foods
- Crunchy peanut butter
- Whole apples (sliced is better)
- Candy bars
- Cookies, cakes, and other sweets
If you do eat a sugary food, brush your teeth right way. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, we recommend looking into sugar-free candy and soda options.
Careful cleaning is an important part of wearing braces in order to avoid plaque and cavity-causing bacteria. Believe it or not, keeping your mouth clean will allow your teeth to move in to the correct position more quickly, and shorten the wearing time for your braces.
Once you’ve removed your rubber bands, begin cleaning your braces by brushing the top of each wire and then from the bottom. After you’ve done this, brush your teeth. Clean each tooth individually, especially in the areas of your teeth that meet the gum. Move your brush in a circular motion and apply gentle pressure.
Dr. Naficy and his staff will give you products such as floss and floss threaders, as well as show you the appropriate way to floss and brush once you’ve received your braces
If you or your child plays a sport, Dr. Naficy will make a customized mouthguard for the patient. This will allow the athlete to continue playing his/her sport without any worries.
Call our office immediately and schedule an appointment to come in and have the bracket repaired or replaced. If possible, keep the bracket and bring it with you when you come in. We are usually able to accommodate your schedule by getting you in to the office either the same day or the following day.
Occasionally, a band or wire might come loose in your mouth. If the wire is hanging in an awkward position and is irritating your gums or cheeks, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and gently push the irritating wire under the archwire to get it out of the way. You can place wax or wet cotton on the wire to alleviate the pain.
Call us immediately to schedule an appointment to have the wire checked and repaired. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.
Once your braces are removed, we’ll fabricate a retainer for you that will keep the teeth in their new place. For the first month, you’ll need to wear it all the time, but after that only at night for a while, and eventually you should be able to taper off to one or two nights a week.
It’s never too late for braces! In fact, about 30 percent of our patients are over 18 years of age. Although teeth can be moved more easily while the jaw is still growing, our philosophy is that oral health and a beautiful smile is better achieved late than never.
We offer clear braces as well as invisalign to patients who prefer a more discreet method of orthodontics. Contact us to learn more.