Steven W. Black, Orthodontist

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Taking Care of Your Braces

Are your braces broken or causing you pain? Click HERE

Here are some tips to help you take care of your teeth and braces, and to help make your orthodontic treatment go smoothly!

Eating with Braces

Just remember:

Hard and crunchy,
Sticky and sweet.
These are foods
you should not eat!

  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum, taffy
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, or carrots can break your braces if they aren't cut up first
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces.

Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for a few days.

Occasionally sipping cool water or iced tea during this stage will lessen the pressure from the archwire and make you more comfortable.

If the tenderness is severe, take Ibuprofen, or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain.

The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. We may also recommend a product that can cover this area temporarily and make it less sore.

If you have a rough or poking area around your braces at some point in treatment, you can put soft wax over this area until we can see you. We'll give you some and show you how to do it!

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected at times during treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new – corrected – positions.

Loose Wire or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire, bracket, or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire away from your cheek. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips, cheek, or gums continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece of the braces comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, you must work together with Dr. Black and Dr. Song. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.


It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment to maintain optimum oral health.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Fortunately, true orthodontic emergencies are rare. Here are some of the things we do to keep most emergencies from ever even happening:

  • We teach you which foods and oral habits can break your braces (it's up to you to avoid them though!)
  • At each visit, we make sure your wires are clipped out of the way of your cheeks (it's up to you to let us know that your wires feel comfortable at the end of each visit!)
  • We check for any loose braces at each appointment (but, it's up to you to check for loose appliances each time you brush your teeth, and call us before your next appointment if something's loose!)

So what is a True Orthodontic Emergency?

A true orthodontic emergency is one that is causing you PAIN that you can not temporarily relieve on your own before our next business day.

These are True orthodontic emergencies:

  • A glued-in appliance that becomes loose or broken can be an emergency if you are in pain or if the appliance is at risk of being swallowed! Please call the office right away.
  • If an accident or blow to the mouth has knocked out or moved any teeth, please call the office right away!

These are NOT typically emergencies requiring off-hours attention:

  • A lost or broken retainer needs to be addressed soon so your teeth don’t shift. Please call our receptionist for an appointment.
  • A poking wire can typically be addressed at home for temporary relief. Please click here to learn how to temporarily tuck away a poking wire until you can schedule a repair appointment.
  • A loose bracket or band is rarely an emergency! Please call our receptionist for a repair appointment.
  • A colored tie that has come off is not an emergency! Please call our receptionist for an appointment.