You’re getting your new braces in a few days! Along with some normal apprehension, you’re wondering how the first week in braces will be. What will you eat? Do braces hurt? How can you prepare?
All of this is natural and your first week can go smoothly with a little preparation by following these six pro tips for your first week of orthodontic treatment. It will be worth it when you have the smile you’ve always wanted!
First, let’s find out how braces will get you to your best smile!
How Braces Work Exactly
Traditional braces and clear aligners both put gentle pressure on the teeth your orthodontist has identified as being misaligned. In some cases, the teeth may need to be closer together to close gaps or they may need to be farther apart to relieve crowding. The pressure results in slow, steady movement of the teeth into proper alignment. It also gives the jawbones time to adapt to the changes.
As you probably imagine, this pressure might be slightly uncomfortable during the first week and also when the pressure is adjusted throughout your treatment plan. Your teeth and jaw can be tender for a few days, but there are six simple things you can do to help make this process as easy as possible.
6 Tips to Ease Your First Week of Braces
You can be a pro during your first week of braces or your first week in aligners! Here are six tips to keep in mind:
#1 – Alleviate Discomfort With Over-the-Counter Pain Medicine Before Any Braces Appointment
As you get closer to your first appointment or right before a periodic adjustment, take the over-the-counter pain relief medication you normally take for muscle pain or headaches. The addition of braces or aligners causes pressure that results in increased blood flow to your gums. This leads to some pain and inflammation.
The OTC pain reliever will lessen the pain and inflammation caused by this blood flow. Keep in mind the discomfort generally lasts less than a week anyway. You can also add a saltwater rinse to this routine to help provide additional relief.
Severe pain isn’t normal, so don’t ignore it. Call your orthodontist’s office for assistance if the discomfort turns to ongoing pain.
#2 – Watch What You Eat
You’re probably also wondering what to eat during your first week in braces. It’s true that you will need to change your eating habits. During the first week, focus on eating mostly soft foods and cold drinks, like soups, pudding, smoothies, applesauce, and anything mashed. Cold foods and drinks help numb your mouth and will ease any discomfort you are experiencing.
After the first week and the tenderness is gone, cut your food into smaller pieces rather than tearing them with your teeth. Scrape corn off the cob. Chew with your back teeth.
Avoid hard-to-chew foods and sticky and hard things, like nuts, pizza crust, tough meats, and popcorn, even after the first week. This will protect your braces and you can go back to eating those things after you have your beautiful smile!
#3 – Learn To Rely on Orthodontic Wax
Braces wax is used to protect the inside of your lips, cheeks, and tongue from the metal hardware of your braces, especially at first. It’s a normal part of the “getting used to braces” process and can be a huge help, so keep it handy.
If you have a piece of your braces that is irritating your mouth, first gently dry off that area with a cotton swab or piece of gauze or tissue. Break off a piece of the wax and warm it by rolling it between your fingers. Stick a piece of the wax on the braces where they are irritating you. Do this as soon as you notice a sore spot so it won’t become a larger issue.
A simple hack when you don’t have any wax is to use sugarless chewing gum!
#4 – Put Together a Braces Care Kit And Take It With You When You Leave Home
Be prepared for the unexpected! Get a small toiletries bag and fill it with items that you might need to tend to your braces on the go. Keep it with you when you leave the house:
– A travel toothbrush
– Dental floss, floss threaders, or orthodontic flossers
– Orthodontic wax
– A small mirror
– OTC pain reliever
Make sure to brush and floss after eating. And the mirror is handy to check that you don’t have food stuck in the braces. The wax can be used to temporarily cover a broken wire. You may never need the OTC pain medication but you’ll be glad you have it if you need it.
#5 – Brush and Floss Like a Pro
Brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires on your braces will feel odd at first. So, follow these tips:
– Use a soft-bristled brush and moderate pressure. Brush at a 45-degree angle along the top and bottom of the brackets, at the gum line, and behind the molars for two to three minutes.
– Brush after all meals and snacks and before bedtime. Brush right away and use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste. If you can’t brush after you eat, rinse your mouth with water after eating and brush as soon as you get home. Brush before going to bed.
– If you are wearing clear aligners instead of traditional metal braces, take the aligners out before you eat and then brush your teeth before putting them back in.
– Thoroughly floss once daily and use an orthodontic flosser or threader to make it easier. Floss between each tooth and go up and down the sides of each tooth. Go all the way to the gum.
– Use interdental brushes, also called interproximal brushes, to help ensure your teeth are totally clean. These brushes clean the spaces between teeth as well as under and around the brackets and wires of your braces.
– Using a WaterPik Water Flosser can help ensure a thorough cleaning in all hard-to-reach spaces and is a good tool to add to your routine.
#6 – Use a Mouthguard
An orthodontic mouthguard will protect your new braces and give you the freedom to continue to participate in sports, as normal. It is designed to take the force of an impact so the mouthguard protects not only your mouth but your braces, too. If you play sports, discuss getting a mouthguard with your orthodontist as soon as you know you will be wearing braces.
Keep The End Result In Mind!
Your first week of braces treatment may seem overwhelming. Your mouth is sharing space with brackets and wires and your teeth may feel sensitive. Brushing and flossing take on even more importance, complete with new techniques and tools.
Don’t despair! Focus on your goal of having a beautiful new smile when the braces come off. After the first week, the routines and your mouth will settle into their new reality until your treatment plan is over.
Follow the six tips discussed in this article and your first week can be as stress-free as possible. And, don’t forget, your entire orthodontic team here at Swiatek Orthodontics is here to help.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We understand your apprehension and are ready to assist in any way we can.