Ten Things You Shouldn’t Do While Wearing Braces
Whether you just got your braces on or you have had them on for months, you’ve probably discovered a few things that you shouldn’t do while wearing braces. Your orthodontist has probably given you a list of things that he would prefer you didn’t do while wearing braces, and the longer you wear them, the more you will learn about what makes them hurt, what breaks off your brackets, and what shifts your wires. In order to avoid pain during the brace-wearing process, it’s important to follow the instructions of your orthodontist. In case you need a refresher, here are ten things you should do while wearing braces:
1. Chew on ice.
You already know ice is hard and cold, and it’s not good to chew on ice, even without braces, but it can be especially bad when you do have your braces on. As you bite down on a piece of ice, it can easily break off a bracket or bend your wire—both of which can be extremely painful and both of which will require a visit with Dr. Gemmi and Dr. Middleberg, who will probably scold you about chewing on ice while wearing braces.
2. Chew gum.
When wearing braces, it’s best to stay away from as much sticky food as possible. Why? Because anything that sticks to your teeth means it will also stick to your braces, and that means it can pull on your wires and brackets, and even the bands around your molars. As you chew and chew, you repeatedly put stress and strain on your brackets, wires, and bands, which can cause them to break, move out of alignment, or just start to ache. Gum is the biggest culprit, but anything sticky and chewing should be avoided.
3. Forget to floss.
Forgetting to (or just not flossing) while wearing braces can mean serious problems both while you are wearing your braces and after you get them off. Food particles get stuck between your teeth and mix with bacteria, creating plaque that eats away at your enamel and damages the structural integrity of your teeth. It’s easy to just not floss when you have braces, getting the floss up in between your teeth with a wire across the front is difficult, but it is worth it in the end.
4. Forget to take out your bands while eating.
If you have rubber bands to help move your jaw, it’s important to take them out before eating. Not only can they get extremely dirty and mucked as you eat, they are also more likely to snap and break. Not only is this often painful, it could lead to you swallowing a piece of your rubber band—it’s not going to hurt you, but it’s not a good idea, either.
5. Get hit in the face.
This is usually not something that happens on purpose (whether it is an accident or intentional on the other’s person’s part), but if it can be avoided, it should be avoided. If you are playing a game on a console with motion capture technology, make sure you are well out of arm-swinging range. Not only will a strike to the mouth damage your teeth, the metal in your mouth can hurt your lips, checks, and gums and even break off or become dislodged.
6. Drink sugary or carbonated beverages.
While wearing braces, it’s more important than ever to protect your teeth from sugar. Too much sugar, acid, and carbonation can actually damage the glue that holds your brackets onto your teeth, and that makes it much easier to pop off a bracket or for sugar and bacteria to get under the bracket and start forming a cavity. Staying away from sugary beverages is especially important if you have Invisalign, instead of traditional bracket and wire braces, as the beverage can get inside the aligner and bathe your teeth in sugar and acid.
7. Play a wind instrument until the inside of your mouth adjusts.
If you play a wind instrument, you have probably already experienced the pain of trying to play while you have braces. While you shouldn’t stop playing all together, you should give your teeth and mouth time to adjust to the braces (form calluses on the inside of your lips), so that pressing a mouthpiece against your lips does not hurt so badly. Once you have your braces on, work your way back up to your regular playing and practicing regimen.
8. Neglect to report problems to Dr. Gemmi and Dr. Middleberg.
Don’t leave vital information out of your report to Dr. Gemmi and Dr. Middleberg, just because you are afraid he might scold you. He knows that sometimes breaking a bracket or shifting a wire is just unavoidable. It happens. If you are in pain, have lost a bracket, or shifted your wire out of place, be sure to make an appointment to get it fixed. Don’t just leave it for your next regularly scheduled appointment, as it can prolong your treatment.
9. Use your teeth as tools.
Again, this is true even when you are not wearing braces, but it is especially important while you do have braces. Don’t use them to tear open bags, to open drink bottles, to straighten or bend wire, etc. Teeth are teeth and should be used for eating. Doing these other tasks can weaken them, causing them to chip, fracture, or break, and it can be especially hard on your braces.
10. Grind your teeth.
If you do this during the day—many people do this subconsciously as a stress response, practice correcting yourself so that you can learn not to grind your teeth when you are feeling stress. If you do this while you sleep, talk to Dr. Gemmi and Dr. Middleberg about some kind of guard or application you can wear to keep your teeth from grinding against each other.