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cost of braces

Life With Braces

Braces & Eating Habits

Braces are attached to your teeth with a strong adhesive, but may become loose as a result of eating certain foods. It is also possible that wires could become bent or broken without proper care. Since it is best to achieve orthodontic treatment goals with as few disruptions as possible, a well balanced diet is important to ensure a healthy environment for your teeth.

Patients should avoid foods that are sticky, hard or chewy. They should also avoid any food and drinks that are known to cause cavities. Patients should brush, floss and rinse their mouth regularly between meals.

The foods below are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and are examples of what NOT to eat:

  • gum
  • beef
  • jerky nuts
  • hard or sticky candy
  • corn chips
  • crisp taco shells
  • whole apples
  • celery
  • caramel
  • taffy
  • popcorn
  • soft drinks

Eating restricted foods and lack of orthodontic appliances care may cause problems which will result in extra visits for repairs and will ultimately extend the length of treatment. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy these restricted foods after completing your treatment. Any specific braces questions about food choices should be directed to your orthodontist and staff.


Braces are delicate and must be taken care of in order to prevent damage to them. Always be careful with what you eat and your activities to prevent breaking/loosening any of your appliances. Sometimes, however, things happen and something breaks. It is important to know what to do. The following are some of the common problems that occur and what to do about them.

What problem are you having?

A bracket is considered broken when you can see that it’s off centered and it can slide back and forth along the wire. If the bracket is not causing discomfort, it could be left in place; you may wish to place orthodontic wax to minimize the movement of the loose bracket.

If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire (you can’t see the “O” ring) and is sticking out, using your fingers or a pair of tweezers you may attempt to turn it back into its normal position. Apply wax to minimize the movement of the loose bracket.

If the bracket becomes extremely bothersome you may attempt to remove the bracket from the wire. Using a pair of tweezers or a small unbent paper clip, remove the “O” ring (usually the “O” ring is a colored elastic around the brace) from the bracket. Slide the bracket to the interproximal area and remove the bracket from underneath the wire.

If the wire breaks or it’s poking your cheeks or soft tissue, try covering it with orthodontic wax to protect the cheek.

If the wire is extremely bothersome and the patient cannot make it to the office soon enough, you may attempt to cut the wire using a pair of fingernail clippers. Cut the wire against the next brace it is attached to. Reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area to catch the piece you will remove. You may still need to use orthodontic wax to provide comfort to the irritated area.

Sometimes to secure the brace to the wire we twist a very small stainless steel ligature around it. It is rarely possible for the twisted end of the ligature to move and start to feel sharp. If this happens, use a Q-tip or a pencil eraser and gently push it towards the tooth and away from the soft tissue or in into a comfortable position.

If the wire has come out of the last bracket and is not poking the gums or the cheek, simply let it be. If it is poking the gums or cheek, using a pair of tweezers, gently grab the wire and reinsert it in the brace. If you are unable to reinsert it the brace you may try moving it above or below the bracket to get it away from the gums. You may need to apply some wax on it to secure it and provide comfort.

Tiny rubber rings known as “O” rings, are often used to hold the archwire into the bracket or brace. If the “O” ring comes off a brace, this can usually wait till the next appointment. Often times you can replace it by using tweezers and stretching it back on to the bracket or brace. If this is not possible please call the office so we can schedule an appointment (if necessary) to have it replaced.

If a separator/spacer is lost, try replacing it with floss (see pictures). If you are unable to replace it, please call the office so we can make an appointment to replace it. If it is lost the day prior to the appointment, do not worry about it.

Step 1: Thread a piece of dental floss thru the center of the separator.

Step 2: Double the floss back on itself. Repeat this with one more piece of floss.

Step 3: Hold one piece of floss on either side of the separator. Slide the floss between the teeth where the separator has come out.

Step 4: Pull the separator thru the contact. Keep a finger on the replaced separator. Gently pull on one end of the doubled back piece of floss out of the mouth. Repeat with the other piece of floss.

If the expander becomes loose call us immediately, please do not turn or activate it until you are seen in our office. The expander can be pushed back onto the tooth until you can make it into our office.

If the space maintainer becomes loose call us immediately. The space maintainer can be pushed back onto the tooth until you reach our office.

Rarely the tongue side of a back brace may feel sharp. You may solve this problem by taking a spoon or a pencil eraser and pushing the cleat back in toward the brace or band.

It is normal to have discomfort for three to five days after your braces, retainers or any other orthodontic appliances are adjusted. Although temporary, it can make eating uncomfortable. Eat soft foods and you may rinse with warm salt water. Over the counter pain relievers, acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are effective.

To make a salt water rinse, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the soreness is extremely severe, please call the office immediately.


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