All about braces - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

All about braces

Eating with Braces
For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meat, hard breads, and raw vegetables. You'll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you're wearing braces.


  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, pizza crust, beef jerky
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice
  • Sticky foods: caramels, taffy, licorice
  • Gum: avoid all gum
  • Hard foods: hard fruits such as apples, unless they are cut very thin, raw vegetables, peanuts
  • Brittle, hard pretzels, crackers, corn chips and taco shells
  • Soda: acid in soda will cause decalcification

Chewing on hard things (i.e. pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Broken appliances will prolong overall treatment time.

General Soreness
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and the teeth may be tender to biting pressures for one to five days. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very helpful for relieving tooth tenderness following adjustment appointments. The lips, cheeks and tongue also can become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Our special orthodontic wax can be applied to the braces to lessen this temporary discomfort. We'll show you how!

Loosening of Teeth
This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. They will again become firm in their new corrected positions.

Care of Appliances
To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands or other appliances as prescribed by Dr. Overby. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.

Loose Bracket, Band or Wire
Don't be alarmed if a wire, bracket or band occasionally comes loose. Wires can seem to lengthen in the back, which can mean that spaces between teeth are closing (a good thing!).  Rubber bands (ties) and chains can break, or brackets can occasionally come loose.  Typically brackets come loose because they have been stressed by tough foods (such as those described above). 

If loose brackets, bands, or wires cause irritation to the lips or mouth, place the wax we gave you on the wire/bracket to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check, clip or repair the appliances. Remember that your appliances will not work properly when they are in disrepair, and that left unattended, your treatment time may be prolonged.

It's more important than ever to brush 3 to 4 times a day and floss regularly when you have braces. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults should see their dentist or periodontist every 3 months during orthodontic treatment.

While playing sports, it's important to consult Dr. Overby first for special precautions. A protective mouth guard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of an accident involving the face, check your mouth and appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone our office at once for an appointment.

Other Invisible (Clear) Orthodontic Appliances
There are also other clear, removable appliance treatments, similar to Invisalign, which may be an option for you.  These treatments are often used when the amount of correction needed is minimal, and you only need a few aligners to get the desired result.  Dr. Overby will be happy to let you know which aligner system would work best for you!


To successfully complete your orthodontic treatment plan, patients must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the elastics (rubber bands), headgear or other appliances as prescribed.

The following paragraphs describe the types of appliances that may be used during your treatment.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)
Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed because the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they are worn as prescribed.

Palatal Expander
The palatal expander "expands" (widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.

Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment.

Separators (or Spacers)
Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that metal orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods or with toothpicks and floss, and it takes 1 to 2 weeks for them to push the teeth apart enough to place the metal bands.

Headgear is often a dreaded word for young patients, but rest-assured that having braces does not automatically mean that you are prescribed headgear.  Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an "overbite," (with the uppers forward of the lowers) or an "underbite" (with the lowers forward of the uppers). Headgear gently "pulls" on your teeth to restrict further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.  We understand that it can be difficult for young patients to wear headgear at school, so night and home wear is prescribed as much as possible. 

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