Life with braces

You're on the path to a beautiful smile

You’ve taken a big step by having braces put on, and are now officially on the path towards the healthiest, most beautiful smile possible. It’s an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve. As you get used to your orthodontic treatment, you may find yourself having to make a few adjustments, but it will become second nature before you know it.

Schedule a free consultation!


The first few days with braces can be accompanied by tenderness and soreness. This is completely normal and usually subsides within a week.

If you experience any discomfort, try swishing and gargling with warm salt water for a few minutes. You only need a tablespoon of salt in a small glass of water. This will help soothe the irritated areas of your mouth. If this doesn’t help, you can speak to Dr. Langford or Dr. Ringer about over-the-counter pain relievers.

Your lips, cheeks, or tongue may feel irritated for the first week or two of having braces but be reassured that this will subside as your mouth gets used to them. If needed, you can use the dental wax we provide you with to cover up spots on your braces that may be irritating or cutting into your cheek and gums.

Don’t forget how important it is to maintain excellent oral hygiene habits while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Thorough brushing and flossing keep bacteria at bay, which keeps your whole mouth healthier in the long run.

Care & maintenance

Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice.

Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria have a chance to grow. If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.

Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
  • Braces wear toothbrushes out at a quick pace, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
  • Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth.
  • Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy- or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
  • Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.

Eating with braces

There are certain dietary habits known to cause breakage to orthodontic appliances and increase the risk of dental disease. Our aim is to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances as possible due to appliance breakage and to minimize the side effects of poor diet choices.

Remember, teeth move best in a healthy environment and in people with excellent overall health. Be sure you have a well-balanced diet.

Food and drinks, which your dentist has suggested may cause dental caries (cavities), should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky food is to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. These types of food stick to braces and remain on your teeth for long periods of time.

If you eat food or drinks high in sugar content, have them with regular meals or at one certain time of day. Please make sure you carefully brush and rinse immediately afterward. When snacking between meals, avoid food without refined sugar. Follow snacks with vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is not available.

Braces are attached to your teeth with an adhesive which normally will withstand the wear and tear from eating. However, foods such as the ones listed here have been known to damage braces, bend or dislodge wires, and irritate the gums.

Foods to avoid while wearing braces

  • Sticky foods/candies (taffy, caramels, gummies, etc.)

  • Hard foods/candies (Jolly Ranchers, ice, beef jerky, chips, etc.)

  • Seeds in the shell (sunflower or pumpkin seeds)

  • Lemons (citric acid in juice can dissolve tooth enamel if eaten frequently)

  • Soda

  • Popcorn

  • Gum

Tips for athletes & musicians

You can still play sports as normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic-friendly mouth guard or to remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.

If you happen to be involved in some kind of accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.

If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position.

Sores can also develop, but liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.