Braces Are a Big Step

You've taken a big step by having braces put on in Beverly, Salem, South Hamilton, or Topsfield. You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. It's an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve.

As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment at New England Orthodontic Specialists, you may need to make a few adjustments, but it'll become second nature before you know it.

Tips for Living With Braces

As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few adjustments, but it'll become second nature before you know it.



You may experience mild discomfort or sensitivity after your appointments. This is normal and temporary. You may find that Tylenol or Motrin, as directed, may help. If you develop any sores on your lips or cheeks, using dental wax may help.

Wax around brackets and wires will help with any discomfort. Dry the area well before applying the wax to help it adhere.

We also recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

If your pain is severe and doesn't go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It's normal for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces.

We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.

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Care & Maintenance

Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria has a chance to grow.

If you cannot brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.

Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
  • Braces wear toothbrushes out quickly, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
  • Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth.
  • Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
  • Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you're having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.

Eating With Braces

Once your braces are on, it's important to do everything you can to look after them. This will ensure your treatment goes smoothly, quickly, and you get the best possible result.

It's essential to prepare for and commit to some lifestyle changes that will help you take care of your teeth while wearing braces. So, what can you eat? Well, here's what you shouldn't eat:

To protect your mouth and braces, avoid any sticky or hard foods and drinks with lots of sugar.

Sticky foods to avoid:

  • Caramels
  • Gum
  • Skittles
  • Starburst
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Gummy bears

Besides the potential for damage, sticky foods can be tough to clean out of your appliances. These hard-to-clear areas near the brackets, elastics, and wire can serve as breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. They can cause tooth decay or gum disease.

In other words, braces put you at a greater risk for developing oral health problems, especially without proper maintenance. Sticky foods only increase the risk.

Hard Foods to Avoid:

  • Popcorn
  • Pizza crust
  • Bagels
  • Ice cubes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Whole apples

Hard foods can also increase your risk of damaging your braces. Minor problems, such as a loose bracket or broken wire, can happen during treatment. Avoiding hard foods can prevent potential problems and keep your treatment time to a minimum.

These food restrictions don't mean you have to sacrifice nutrition or the joy of eating good food. In fact, keeping a good diet and nutrition are key to maintaining strong gums and teeth, preventing gum inflammation, and ensuring overall good oral health, so it's important to eat well.

With a little creativity, you can still enjoy the foods listed above by changing how they're prepared. Here are some examples of modifying your favorite foods:

  • Enjoy thinly sliced apples
  • Steaming your favorite veggie until soft or using the back teeth only to eat small bites of crunch, raw veggies
  • Whipping up your favorite fruits into a healthy smoothie
  • Cut pizza up into bite-size pieces and avoid the crust
  • Cut corn off the cob

We also encourage you to avoid bad habits, such as biting your fingernails, chewing on pens and pencils and chomping on ice.

Drinks to Avoid:

  • Soda
  • Gatorade
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Keep Clear Braces From Staining

Try to avoid the following foods to prevent discoloration:

  • Beets
  • Foods with a tomato base (soup and sauces)
  • Ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, curry, balsamic vinegar
  • Cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • Coffee, tea, red wine, dark-colored soda


Loose Teeth

If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry - it's normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won't be loose anymore.


Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible to check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire with the back of a spoon or a pencil eraser to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire irritating your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.


Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie

Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.

You can often move this wire into a better position by using the pencil's eraser end or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaced wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.

If some of the wires or brackets have shifted are irritating your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.

This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of you only masking the symptoms at home.


Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance

Damaged appliances can increase your treatment process length, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.

For example, Invisalign's clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Following instructions is key so successful treatment and achieving the smile of your dreams.


Tips for Athletes & Musicians

We don't want braces to get in the way of your life. Anybody wearing braces can play sports if they take the proper precautions. Regardless of what sport you play, let us know about it so we can help you protect your teeth.

You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouthguard or remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.

If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.

If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It's normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position.

Sores can also develop, but liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you'd think.