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The stainless steel brackets we cement to your teeth serve as “handles.” We use them to apply pressure to your teeth and move them to the desired position. The pressure can be applied in several ways, including through use of an archwire that is tied to each bracket. Regardless of what method is used to apply pressure to your brackets, your teeth will be tender at first. The discomfort will gradually disappear, and aspirin and Tylenol can relieve irritation in the meantime. Archwires are attached to brackets with a rubber band, or small elastic ligature. If a bracket comes loose and causes you discomfort, you can use a sharp instrument to detach the rubber band so the bracket can be removed from the wire. Later on in treatment you may not be able to remove loose brackets because the archwires will be heavier and less flexible.

It is not uncommon for brackets to come loose several days after being cemented to your teeth, so do not be alarmed. Pressure placed on the brackets from an archwire can cause the brackets to detach themselves from your teeth after they have first been placed, especially those that are on teeth quite far out of alignment. Another condition that may cause brackets to come loose early in treatment is certain types of bites. If any of your brackets come loose, please call our office so we can schedule an appointment to have them re-cemented. After the initial weeks of your treatment, the typical cause of loose brackets is biting hard food. If you have an appointment within the next couple of weeks, we can re-cement loose brackets at that time or try to schedule you for a sooner appointment.

The cement we use to bond brackets to your teeth does not damage your enamel. When your treatment is complete, we painlessly remove the brackets by pinching them with a special instrument.

There are only a few restrictions we will place on your diet during orthodontic treatment. As previously mentioned, hard foods can loosen your brackets, so we advise  you to be careful when chewing pizza crust, ice cubes, unpopped popcorn kernels, etc. We do not expect for you to stick to soft foods for the length of your treatment, but we cannot stress enough just how important it is for you to watch what you bite into. Candy, sugared gum and other sweets should be avoided as much as possible, even when you do not have braces.

It will take you a few days to get used to the feeling of your brackets against your lips and cheeks. There may be times, especially right after they are placed, that your brackets rub sore spots inside your mouth. A small piece of the wax we will give you can cover the bracket or archwire that is causing the problem and create a cushion. Our office can give you more wax at each visit. If a tender spot develops and does not disappear after a few days, please call our office so we can examine it.

Good oral hygiene habits are essential for a healthy mouth, especially when you have orthodontic appliances. During your orthodontic treatment, proper brushing can help maintain healthy gums and prevent damage to teeth. One of the most common questions we are asked is if braces cause decay. Braces themselves do not cause decay, but the food particles that can get stuck in them and are left around the edges of your brackets can. Markings from decaying enamel may not be visible until your brackets are removed. Food debris can also irritate your gums and cause them to become inflamed and swollen. It is obviously very important that you make sure all food is brushed away from your brackets and bands after each time you eat and before bedtime. Do not forget to use a soft bristle toothbrush to remove any debris between your brackets and gums, as well. Waterpik's Water Flosser and other high irrigation devices can help you remove food debris from your brackets, but they should not be used in place of a good brushing ritual.

We advise that you continue receiving regular dental exams from your family dentist during the length of your treatment to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.

If your retainers need to be replaced or repaired, please contact our office as soon as possible. You may be charged for the services that will be required, but it is a small price to pay to protect the investment you have made in your new smile.

The only way to remove bacteria from your braces and teeth is to brush after every meal. For better breath, do not forget to brush your tongue.

One of the best ways to keep your gums healthy is to get in the habit of flossing on a daily basis. This will help catch debris that your toothbrush missed.

Moderate your intake of sweets.


Use a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush the surfaces of your teeth and bands.
Brush the outside and inside surfaces of your upper and lower gums.
Brush the area between your brackets and gums gently and slowly. Rinse your mouth with water, and check your teeth and bands for debris. If you still see particles of food trapped in bands and/or brackets, brush your teeth again.


Cut off a piece of floss from the roll and thread it behind your archwire. Even though this seems tricky, it gets easier after you have done it a few times, and is easier when using a floss threader.
Pull the section of floss between two of your teeth and move it to just under your gum line. Wipe the surface of both teeth clean and repeat with the rest of your teeth. When you have finished flossing, rinse your mouth with water several times.

The rubber bands, or elastics, we show you how to attach are a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment because they apply the force that is necessary to straighten your teeth.

The way rubber bands work is similar to pushing a car up a hill. The car will roll backwards and you will lose what you have already accomplished if you stop pushing. If you fail to wear elastics on your brackets, your teeth will return to their original position. Both scenarios require a steady, constant push to get the job done.

To ensure that even pressure is applied to your teeth, wear your rubber bands at all times. You can remove them when you eat, but it is important that you replace them immediately after brushing. Elastics lose their stretch after being in place for 24 hours, so we advise that you change them at least once a day.

If you are instructed to wear rubber bands on the left and right side of your mouth, as well, make sure they are in place at the same time to avoid an uneven bite. You may be told to wear an elastic on only one side of your mouth, which can help correct an uneven bite. In that case, be careful to place the rubber band on the appropriate side of your mouth.

We suggest that you divide your supply of elastics between home and work, or a bag that you always carry with you, so you have them handy no matter where you are. Rubber bands break on occasion and it is important that you are able to replace them wherever you are. You can always stop by our office to pick up more if you are running low. They come in many different sizes and our staff can look up which ones you need in case you are unsure.

Keep in mind that if you do not follow the instructions you are given for wearing elastics, your teeth will not move at the rate they will if you do wear them. If you adhere to the guidelines you are given, not only will you have a better bite, but your treatment will also be finished in a shorter amount of time.

When your braces are removed you will get the first glimpse of your new smile and the retention stage of your treatment will begin. Most patients are unaware that this stage of orthodontic treatment is just as important as the active movement part in determining the final look of a smile. Retainers stabilize your teeth after your braces have been removed. Without retainers, habits, changing dental health, latent facial growth and biting pressures can cause your teeth to move, even after braces.

How long will I need to wear my retainers?

The retention supervision phase lasts about two years. The success of this stage is based upon whether you attend your appointments and follow our directions for wearing your retainers. Adjustment and checkup appointments are scheduled during this period with decreasing frequency. You will wear your retainers all the time for the first three months after your braces are removed. As the retention process continues, we may ask you to only wear your retainer at night for an additional year, which will mark the end of the retention supervision phase. After this point you should wear your retainers three to four times a week indefinitely. Requirements for wearing your retainers may differ from those of other patients' based on the original problem, and stages of growth and development.

Will my teeth move back after treatment?

Even if you do not receive orthodontic treatment, the fit of your teeth will more than likely change throughout your lifetime. We realize that the position of your teeth will change after you discontinue use of your retainers, but retainers are used to minimize those adjustments. Retainers work with the natural changes that will occur in your mouth to maintain the fit achieved during treatment.

How do I take care of my retainers?

To avoid breaking or losing your retainers, keep them in your mouth or in their case. Make sure to brush them daily using cool water and toothpaste. You can also use a mouthwash or denture cleanser on a regular basis to keep them fresh. Keep them away from hot water, which tends to distort the material and could result in the need for a new set. Take care to not leave your retainers in reach of pets, in your pocket, or other places where they could be lost or overlooked. A common mistake, for example, is wrapping retainers in a napkin when you eat, and leaving them at the table.

Why Final Records Are Important

We recommend that you ask us to take a final set of photographs and X-rays after your active treatment is complete. These are known as final records, and will be used to evaluate your wisdom teeth, review your treatment and plan your retention period. We also advise that an additional X-ray be taken at the end of your retention supervision phase to check your wisdom teeth. After the retention supervision stage is complete, there is a fee for X-rays, office visits and appliance checks.

These doughnut-shaped elastic objects are placed between your teeth to make room for bands that will be applied at your next appointment. They are stretched to fit around areas where your teeth touch each other. Teeth are moved slightly apart as the separators return to their original shape.

We may ask that you leave separators in your mouth from five to seven days to as long as two or three weeks. Because they place pressure on your teeth, you may experience some discomfort at first, but it will go away by the time you have your banding appointment.

One or more of your separators may come out from between your teeth as they move farther apart, especially in areas where teeth were not tight to begin with. It is typically not necessary for us to replace separators that have fallen out in those spots, so we do not require you to notify our office of these changes.

While you do not have to change your diet while your separators are in place, your teeth will probably be tender for the first couple of days. You can help to minimize discomfort by avoiding foods that are hard to chew. You should brush your teeth as normal after meals, but do not use dental floss between teeth where separators are located.

Ice – A thousand times NO. It will totally destroy your braces

Pizza Crust – The hard crust bends wires

Hard Pretzels – Bends wires, loosens bands, knocks off brackets

Suckers – You might give in and bite
Caramel Candy, Bubble Gum – Sticky goo pulls off wires and feeds the bacteria in your mouth

Hard Rolls, Bagels, Bones, Ribs – Bends the wire and knocks off brackets

Pens and Pencils – A favorite exam time food… but it will break everything

Beef Jerky, Slim Jims – Tough as nails
Doritos, Tacos, Tostitos, Cheetos, Fritos – Will form a hard ball and break your braces

Nuts – No nuts of any kind
Popcorn – The little shells get between the gum and band and hurt you like crazy

Raw Carrots – Hard as rocks

Your Concern

Best Time

Who To See

Fluoride, Vitamin drops

Before 6 months


Child's first dental visit

By age 2

Children's dentist

Stopping a pacifier

Before age 2

Children's dentist

Stopping finger sucking

By age 4 to 7

Orthodontist, dentist

First orthodontic visit

Between age 4 to 7


Changing to fluoride rinse

Between age 4 to 7

Children's dentist

Tooth grinding

Before age 7


Crowded front teeth

Before age 7


Sealants to prevent decay

Age 6-7/ 11-13

Family/Children's dentist

Jaws/teeth not aligned

By age 7


Jaw orthopedic appliance

Age 6-13


Stop tongue thrust

Age 7-13


Stop mouth breathing

Before age 7

Orthodontist, ENT, Allergist

Remove wisdom teeth

Age 15-18

Oral Surgeon, dentist

Straighten an adult's teeth

Age 18-80