Living with a brace

Braces are a very successful form of orthodontic treatment as thousands of patients will testify to. They gradually move teeth which are crooked or misaligned back into their correct place which improves their function and appearance. Plus it provides a much needed confidence boost!

How long does a brace take to work?

This depends on the type of brace but in general, fixed braces take one to 2 years whereas removable braces take 6 months to 2 years. A functional brace takes up to a year.

Dealing with sore teeth and gums

If your mouth and gums become sore as a result of wearing a brace then use a clear wax (provided by your orthodontist) over the affected areas. The soreness is caused by the pressure of the brace against your teeth and gums but this will soon disappear.

You will experience this soreness each time your brace is adjusted but again, apply clear wax to the sore areas within your mouth.

Regular check ups

You will be expected to visit your orthodontist to have your brace adjusted. These visits will take place every month or every 8 weeks. Plus your orthodontist will check to see if your brace is functioning normally.

It is vital that you attend these appointments. If you don't then the chances are that your treatment will take longer or any potential problems will not be spotted. So make sure that you have these check ups.

Continue your twice yearly check ups with your dentist. Your teeth and gums still need to be examined on a regular basis to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Sport

If you engage in sports particularly contact sports such as rugby or boxing then remove your brace and wear a gumshield. Remember to put your brace back in afterwards. This applies to removable braces only.

If you wear a fixed brace then wear a gumshield especially designed for this type of brace. The orthodontist will be able to provide you with this gumshield.

Musical instruments

If you play a musical instrument such as the trumpet or the flute then take out your brace (if it is the removable type) before playing. This is more of a problem with fixed braces but ask the orthodontist (and your music teacher) for advice.

Eating and drinking

Try to limit your consumption of sugary foods and fizzy drinks as they increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Plus fizzy drinks can stain the brackets or the bands used to fix the brace into position.

Avoid hard foods such as apples and chewy foods which can damage the brace. They can either stick to the plastic base or break parts of the brace itself.

Stick to soft foods and cut this food into smaller pieces than normal until you are used to wearing a brace.

Cleaning your brace

Your brace needs to be cleaned and cared for. If you have a removable brace then have a designated toothbrush for the brace and clean it over a bowl or sink of water. Use fluoride toothpaste and brush it gently to avoid damaging the wires and/or elastic bands.

Ensure that you clean your brace after every meal, i.e. 3 times a day. Clean your teeth using a manual or electric toothbrush and use dental floss plus a mouthwash as well.

If your brace becomes damaged or is causing excessive soreness then book an appointment as soon as possible with the orthodontist.

This information also applies to a retainer: you will be given a retainer to wear once your treatment has finished. The retainer is worn over the teeth on a temporary basis (up to 6 months) and stops your teeth from shifting back into their old position.