It’s scary to be at home, school, or sports practice and feel a part of your braces loosen or even fall completely off your tooth, but it’s a more common occurrence than you may think.. The good news is that most of these incidents are actually minor and easily fixed by your orthodontist. Here are a few general rules and tips for how to handle these situations in the moment and until you can get into the office for a visit.
Typically, braces emergencies arise when a wire or rubber band falls out of place. These issues are minor and can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. A less common emergency is when a bracket comes loose and falls out. If you can feel a loose bracket that hasn’t fallen out, it’s best to leave it held in by the surrounding wires and call your orthodontist. But, if the bracket has fallen out already, keep it in a safe space and take it with you to the orthodontist. Schedule an appointment as soon as you can to fix this!
The most common question patients ask us is “When will my braces come off?”. More often than “What can I eat with braces?” or “Can I still play my favorite sports?” Patients want to know how long they’ll have to deal with braces at all. It’s an understandable question. Braces are hard to brush and floss around, they come with food restrictions, and they can be a source of embarrassment for teens at school or professionals in the workplace.
It’s common for patients to be excited to begin treatment, but it’s standard for every patient to begin to wonder when they’ll finally get those brackets off. Even though each patient is given an estimated treatment time wearing braces when they start, patients always hope they’ll be the exception that gets their braces off early.
Young children often put anything and everything in their mouths. Unless it develops into bad habits that carry into later childhood, this curiosity is beneficial. Long-term oral health can be negatively affected by habits like nail-biting, thumb sucking, excessive use of pacifiers, and tongue thrusting as you swallow.
Biting your nails is bad for your general and oral health because you’re introducing bacteria and dirt into your mouth. The germs and grime you ingest while biting your nails can cause illness and the consistent biting is hard on your enamel. While it certainly isn’t a good habit to keep up because of the dirt and germs residing under your nails, there are many more negative effects.
Chewing your nails results in unnecessary wear on your teeth. It weakens the enamel and can even lead to chipping or the teeth becoming crooked. When you have braces, chewing your nails slows down orthodontic treatment. In addition to weakening the roots and making the teeth susceptible to movement, biting your nails can also displace brackets and wires. This makes your braces less effective and can result in more appointments to fix appliances or brackets.
Flossing isn’t the most exciting part of your nightly routine, but it’s essential to your oral health. Maintaining that excellent oral health is an integral part of your orthodontic journey! Before we get into how to become an expert braces flosser, here’s some more information about why flossing is so critical in the first place. Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth to prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. Flossing helps eliminate the accumulation of harmful bacteria and plaque resulting from food particles that get trapped between the teeth and under the gum line. These are places that the toothbrush can’t always reach!
Often the first step of orthodontic treatment is an expander. Expanders, or palatal expanders, are orthodontic appliances that increase the space between the halves of the upper jaw. While that sounds scary and painful, expanders are very common! Many young and growing orthodontic patients have expanders, and they can help make sure you don’t have to undergo surgery later!
Why Would You Need an Expander?
Sometimes in early orthodontic treatment, there are things an orthodontist can see that a parent can’t. An expert orthodontist can “look into the future” and predict common bite issues when your child first comes in for a visit. Expanders for teeth that show a risk of developing bite problems are common first steps of treatment. Because of this, devices like expanders can be used to mitigate those issues and make sure they never occur at all. Expanders create space for new teeth or space for teeth to move into as braces do their job. Expanders prepare the mouth for braces or other treatments.
One of our most common questions from patients is “What can I eat with my braces?” or “What foods do I have to give up?” and we have a few simple guidelines to share. Getting braces is a big change, and on top of the wires, brackets, or Invisalign trays, there’s a whole new set of habits you must get used to.
Luckily, we’re here to help and answer any questions you may have during treatment! If you keep these in mind, your smile and diet will be happy and healthy!
Suggestions and Tips for Braces Eating
When eating with braces, we always recommend brushing after meals. If you forgot your toothbrush, you could run to the bathroom and swish some water around to loosen stuck food particles.
If a bracket or wire comes loose while eating, you should call your orthodontist as soon as possible to replace or repair it. Keep any pieces of your appliance that fall out for your appointment! As always, contact your orthodontist with questions – we’re here to help!