Life with Braces

Brushing & Flossing

You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food compacts in the brackets and between your teeth, and can only be removed by brushing and flossing. If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it will leave a permanent white scar on the surface. Brushing after meals should become part of your daily schedule. 

Use a soft toothbrush with firm pressure and brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and gum; brush in small circles above and below the brackets. Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.

A Waterpik can be a useful addition but it cannot remove the sticky plaque that adheres to the teeth. Sonicare toothbrushes are very helpful. Flossing is important and should be done every day. We can provide you with flossers to help guide floss through your wires.

Eating Habits

Please do not eat hard foods: nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spareribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating), and popcorn! These foods risk breaking brackets and wires. Also beware of nail-biting and pen or pencil chewing habits, since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods: taffy, caramels, bubble gum, or sticky candy of any sort. Use common sense about most foods.

Absolutely No:

Gum (Sugarless or otherwise)
Sticky Foods:
Sugar Daddies
Caramel Apples
Sugar Babies
Tootsie Rolls
Now & Laters

Eat with Caution or Cut up:

Hard Foods:
Corn on the Cob
Pizza Crusts
Carrots (uncooked)

Eat much less:

Ice Cream
Cake, Cookies
Foods with Sugar

Drink much less:
Drinks with Sugar

Clear Ceramic Braces

If you choose clear ceramic braces for your orthodontic treatment, it is important to avoid the following foods in addition to the ones listed above to avoid staining your brackets.

  • Ketchup
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Mustard
  • Blackberries
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Tea
Sugary drinks can also stain brackets. To help minimize staining, we suggest drinking colored liquids with a straw.
clear braces ceramic brackets

Elastics or Rubber Bands

Dr. Cox may include wearing rubber bands or elastics with your treatment plan. Elastics need to be worn all the time and changed 3-4 times every day. Any time missed in wearing your elastics will make your treatment take longer, so remember:

  • You are responsible for placing the elastics on your braces between appointments. Make sure to wear them as instructed. Remove them only when brushing your teeth, gums and braces after meals, and replace them with new ones immediately.
  • Always carry a few elastics with you, so if one breaks you can replace it right away. If your supply is low, call the office and we will mail you some more.
  • If you forget to insert your elastics one day, don’t double up the next day – just follow your regular instructions.
  • Elastics become worn out. When they lose their elasticity, they don’t provide the proper pressure on your teeth and jaws. It is very important to change them as directed, even when they are not broken.

elastics in a bag atlanta georgia orthodontist

If your elastics break frequently, a wire or band loosens, or a hook breaks off – call our office immediately. Don’t wait until your next appointment. These problems need to be corrected as soon as possible in order to keep your treatment on schedule!


Common Problems & Emergencies

It is normal to have sore teeth or gums the first week after getting braces or an adjustment. There are also other common problems that can be remedied at home in most circumstances. However, situations that are more severe can occur.

Orthodontic emergencies are uncommon, but it is important to know what to do in case they happen. If you have an appliance or a wire that is cutting into your gum and cannot be covered by wax, contact us as soon as possible.

If you lose a tooth, keep it in a container with milk if you are able to retrieve the tooth. Then immediately call your dentist. This emergency is best solved with your general dentist. However, we want to know about the issue. Ask your dentist to send the information our way or give us a call with the details.

If you experience major trauma to your mouth and have lots of bleeding, please go to the hospital immediately. However, we want to know about the issue as well. Please give us a call to let us know what happened.

We are here for you with any questions you may have! 

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