Caring for Orthodontic Appliances

To achieve a good result in the quickest possible time your cooperation during treatment is of paramount importance.


The First Days

Within a day or so you will probably find that  your teeth feel uncomfortable.  The forces of the braces are very light, but as your teeth are not used to these forces you may feel discomfort.   If the discomfort is bad enough some minor analgesics could be of benefit (Panadol).  For the first few days or so you may wish to eat soft foods that are easy to chew (eg, Pasta, chicken, fish, well cooked vegetables rather than steak, crunchy vegetables, and tough bread crusts).
After adjustments (usually 4-6 weekly intervals) you may also find that your teeth could be uncomfortable for a day or two.  Some people also experience occasional discomfort between visits that seems to “move” around the mouth.  At the beginning of treatment your bite may feel uncomfortable because the upper teeth meet with the lower braces.  During the treatment the bite will be corrected and will be very comfortable.  The initial sudden changes in your bite will not affect eating (teeth rarely meet when you chew) but because you are very “tooth aware” in the first few days it will feel very strange.  Particular care is required at this time to avoid broken brackets as only one or two lower brackets may make contact with the upper teeth.  It is normal for teeth to feel a little “looser” as they move.


What Can Go Wrong

Please refer to the section on diet.  Archwires cannot break by themselves and brackets cannot come unstuck so patient care to avoid breakages is extremely important.
Pin or ligature bent out: ease in with a match stick, or similar.  Use wax if there is an ulcer (see section on wax).
Loose bracket: phone for an appointment so that the bracket can be replaced within a week.  Use wax if the bracket feels sharp.
Broken archwire: phone for an appointment so that the archwire can be replaced within a week.  If sharp use wax, the sharp end could be carefully bent over, if there is a small section at the back that is sharp it could be carefully removed.
Broken fixed elastic chain: phone for an appointment to have it replaced within a week (or use one of your removable elastics if this has been discussed with you).


Hard Sticky Foods

These should be totally avoided during the course of treatment as they are highly likely to result in damage to your braces.  Examples includes toffees, mints, hard lollies, museli bars, chewing gum, whole nuts, corn chips, barbeque shapes.

Tough Hard Foods.

Can be eaten with care!  Foods such as apples, raw celery, raw carrots should be cut into small pieces and chewed on your back teeth.  Beware of hard pizza crust and hard crusty bread which should be cut or torn up.  Don’t chew corn on the cob or meat off the bone. As a rule of thumb food should not be harder than a hard boiled egg or soft pasta in consistency.


No matter how well or how often you clean your teeth there will always be plaque around the braces and in other areas such as the fissures of your back teeth.  Plaque is a bacterial film that continually grows on the teeth.  SUGAR (especially sucrose cane sugar) is converted into ACID by dental plaque.  The acid removes minerals from the tooth surface.  This removal of minerals is reversible if there is enough time between sugar intake/acid attack.  Therefore, sugar (special occasions) at meal times is safe, as long as there is STRICT AVOIDANCE of sugary snacks between meals.


Cakes, sweet biscuits, lollies, soft drinks, flavoured milks, cordial, yoghurts with added sugar, honey, jam.  Basically foods that contain high amounts of sugar.


Drinks: Water, milk, diet cordials , unsweetened juices.

Food: Fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread with vegemite or sugar-free  spreads, chips, savory


Oral Hygiene

The use of dental floss is much more difficult with braces. Super floss which has a plastic end makes flossing easier.

Mouth rinses can be useful to dislodge some food but do not remove sufficient plaque to be a substitute for good brushing.

Thorough cleaning with a toothbrush is essential during treatment time.  The BRUSH should be small and soft.  You will wear your brush out more quickly, so replace more often!  At least 5 minutes is required to brush thoroughly with full braces to remove dental plaque and this time should be taken in the morning and evening.  The technique will be demonstrated to you.

Please note the following important tips:
Spend 10 seconds on each tooth
Brush firmly (don’t scrub)
Brush after all meals (inc snacks)



If prescribed, it is essential that your elastics be worn exactly as explained.  Unless told otherwise, the following should be noted:
The elastics should be worn FULLTIME and removed only for tooth brushing.  Place the elastics around one of your fingers to remind you to replace it when you have finished brushing.  One of the most common reasons for slow progress is poor elastic wear.  If left off for even short periods of time the teeth can move rapidly “backwards”

Replace the elastics immediately if they break.  Always carry some with you.  Avoid playing with them as it will cause them to break and reduce the effectiveness of the elastics force.  Wear the same pair for at least three days unless instructed otherwise.



You will be provided with a small packet of  white wax.  This may be useful if something breaks and feels sharp to get you by until the breakage can be repaired and is also useful if there is an ulcer at any stage during treatment.  If any part of the braces feels sharp or is obviously sticking out is should be fixed but if there is an ulcer caused by constant rubbing of the insides of the lips/cheeks on the braces or by your face being knocked (eg playing sport) against the braces then the wax is useful to help encourage healing of the ulcer as soon as possible.  Once an ulcer has formed it will take about a week to heal even if wax is used. The wax will help protect the healing ulcer, otherwise it could persist for weeks.  Use the wax as directed, remove before eating or brushing and put some new wax on immediately afterwards.  Keep your mouth clean to help prevent infection.  If particularly uncomfortable, rinsing with warm salty water can help, as can one of the many ulcer preparations available from pharmacies.



Sometimes we get into a habit of eating sweet foods and drinking sugary or acidic drinks continually without realizing that we are risking major problems with our teeth.
But EVERY TIME we eat or drink, our teeth are under attack from food acids!

Rampant Decay is the destruction of tooth structure, that happens is a short period of time. Decay often occurs when plaque (the sticky substance that forms on teeth) mixes with sugar from foods that we eat, this combination produced acids that eat away at our teeth.
The end result is teeth that are discolored, have holes and in some cases can be quite painful.

As a team, you and your dentist can work out strategies to alter habits that are most damaging to your teeth.
Temporary fillings can be placed to alleviate pain and prevent further damage.
Extra fluoride can be used to strengthen teeth.
Changes in your eating and drinking habits, cut out the foods and drinks that are causing the decay problem.
Change the way you clean your teeth. Your approach may include brushing more carefully, and more frequently.
Switch to using a high concentration fluoride toothpaste (recommended for adult only).
Try the “Spit don’t rinse” technique.
Having regular dental check-ups to ensure that your home-care program is working.
Permanent fillings will be placed in the decayed teeth once your dentist is confident that the decay problem is under control and the fillings will be long lasting.

People with diets that consist of too much sugar, too often can cause an overloading effect on the natural recovery or defense mechanism that the mouth has. Sticky sweetened foods such as, toffee and lollipops that stay in the mouth for lengthy periods of time are more harmful that sugary snacks that can quickly be cleared from the mouth.
Changes in stress levels or lifestyle can sometimes trigger changes in the diet and brushing habits and affect the balance between recovery and the causes  of decay.

It can take up to 20 minutes after every snack or drink for saliva to wash away plaque acid, and then a further period of time to repair any damage.
Fluoride helps to speed up the ‘natural recovery’ repair process and rebuilds stronger tooth structure.
If you have some decay, when the hole gets bigger it can turn brown or black in color. You may also notice your teeth becoming sensitive to sweet or cold foods and drinks.
In order for a filling to be permanent and long lasting, the decay process needs to be completely stopped. Otherwise the problem will continue to get worse, a temporary filling may be placed to help with this.
And lastly, your mouth needs a team effort to strengthen and repair damaged teeth

Regular check-ups are essential to make sure that dental decay is under control, otherwise further decay may occur. If any part of diet control or the home-care program fails, you teeth will again be at risk.

Good Oral Hygiene

You know, there’s nothing like the fresh, clean feeling in your mouth after you’ve brushed and flossed your teeth to make you feel good. But cleaning your teeth properly does much more for you than help keep your smile bright and your breath fresh. The reason we brush and floss is to remove plaque, a colourless, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Plaque is one of the main causes of tooth decay and gum disease.
So making a habit of practicing good oral hygiene can really pay off—but in more ways than you might first think.  You are not only keeping your teeth and gums in good shape, you’re also contributing to your overall health and well-being.

How does plaque harm my teeth and gums?

The bacteria in plaque react with foods we eat to produce acids that can attack and weaken tooth enamel (the hard, protective, covering on our teeth), opening the way for cavities to develop. Plaque can also irritate the gums, leading to gum disease, which, in its early stage, is called gingivitis.

Am I at risk for gum disease?

Yes, gum disease can affect you at any age; however, it most often effects adults. In fact, about three out of four adults over age 35 have gum disease now or have had it in the past. Fortunately, with regular dental visits and proper oral care every day, gingivitis can be prevented or reversed, because no permanent damage has been done. Left untreated, gingivitis may progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, in which the bone and gums that support your teeth become damaged. Once periodontitis develops, the damage can’t be reversed– only a professional treatment program and improved daily oral care at home can keep it from getting worse.

Is there anything else I can do?

Keep sweets and sugary foods  and drinks to a minimum. Instead, choose sugar-free items for snacking. Good choices include vegetable fresh fruits,  bread and water.
If you cant brush you teeth after eating, sugar free chewing gum or rinsing your mouth with water are good substitutes.


How to floss

Take around 30cm of floss and loosely wrap most of it around each middle finger (wrapping more around one finger than the other) leaving 5cm of floss in between.

With your thumbs and index fingers holding the floss taut, gently slide it down between your teeth, while being careful not to snap it down on your gums.

Curve the floss around each tooth in a “C” shape and gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth, including under the gumline. Unroll a new section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.

How do I know that I’m brushing my teeth properly?

For the outer tooth surfaces, place the tooth brush at a 45° angle towards the gumline. Using a gentle, short circular strokes back and forth against the teeth and gums
Use the same motion for the chewing and inside surfaces of the teeth. Holding the brush upright and using the tip of the brush will help clean the inner front surfaces.
Don’t forget to brush along the gumline and make sure you reach the teeth right at the back. And while your at it, give your  tongue a brush. It’ll help keep your breath fresh.
Proper brushing is the first step to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. It takes at least two minutes using a recommended technique.

A quick guide

Brush thoroughly twice a day with a soft–bristled toothbrush.
Floss between teeth at night before tooth brushing to remove plaque from area’s your toothbrush can’t reach.
Eat a balanced diet; this helps keep your teeth and gum healthy.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco, as it stains your teeth.
Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles begin to look worn out.
Visit your dentist and hygienist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and examination.

Elastic Wear

Following is some important information in regard to elastic wear.

1.    The elastics are being used in your treatment to move your teeth and to correct your bite.

2.    Elastics must be worn all of the time and removed only when you brush your teeth.  When you brush your teeth it is a good idea to place the elastics on your finger so you do not forget to put them back in place.

3.    Wearing elastics for less than 24 hours per day will mean the desired changes will not occur as they should. Teeth need a constant force to move and if elastics are not in place, some of the change which has been achieved may be lost.

4.    One of the most common reasons for slow progress with orthodontic treatment is poor cooperation with elastic wearing.

5.    Elastics should be worn in the manner shown to you today. The location and direction of the elastics may change during your treatment but the orthodontist will let you know of any changes.

6.    Elastics should be renewed with the frequency advised by the orthodontist. Generally this is once every two days. If an elastic breaks or is lost then a new one should be placed immediately.

7.    It is a good idea to carry a packet of elastics with you at all times so you can immediately replace any that are lost or broken. If you run out of elastics and cannot get to the surgery please phone us and we can send some more out in the post.

8.    Never wear more elastics that the orthodontist has asked. Your teeth will not move more quickly.

9.    There are varying strengths of elastics. The orthodontist will advise you as to which colour packet you will be using. This may change as treatment progresses.

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Adelaide SA 5000

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