Posted on October 7, 2021
Most people are familiar with metal braces, which are orthodontic devices that straighten and align teeth while improving dental health. They’re quite common. In fact, between 50 and 75% of people could benefit from orthodontics such as braces, according to Aaoinfo.org. While braces can greatly improve your life, caring for them typically changes your daily routine. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to learn what life will be like with metal braces.
The initial placement of braces may create discomfort. Similarly, you may experience some pain after a visit to your orthodontist to adjust your braces. This discomfort is often mild and usually lasts only a few days. Over-the-counter pain medication is effective at treating the pain.
Dental hygiene is especially important when you have metal braces because the brackets can collect food and bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Of course, you don’t want a piece of spinach sticking to your smile, either! You should brush and floss after every meal. If you struggle to use traditional floss, water flossing might be an easier alternative.
To make maintaining your dental hygiene easier, avoid eating food that can become stuck in your braces, such as chewy candy, gum, caramel, popcorn, pretzels, and hard taco shells. Hard foods such as candy, nuts, and ice cubes could potentially damage your braces. Try to avoid food that you bite into with your front teeth, such as corn on the cob, bagels, burgers and sandwiches, hard apples, thin-crust pizza, croutons, raw vegetables, and ribs. Instead, stick to pasta, softer fruit without pits, and light crackers and cookies.
Some people require rubber bands or ‘elastics’ with their braces to apply additional force to help with issues such as overbites, underbites, or crossbites. Elastics may cause discomfort, but some people only need elastics for a few weeks.
If your orthodontist recommends elastics, they require their own care. Because they lose elasticity, you need to replace them, possibly multiple times per day. You may need to remove elastics if they interfere with eating, and you should always replace them after brushing.
Your orthodontist is your first stop if you have questions about braces or elastics. However, most people adjust to having and caring for metal braces quickly.