Caring For Your New Hardware

Dr. Sturgill always explains exactly how to keep your braces in tip-top shape so you’ll never feel unsure of what to do. By following his instructions, you can get the most out of your treatment with the least possible impact on your daily life.

Brushing & Flossing

Now that you have a system of brackets and wires in your mouth, you’ll need to be diligent about cleaning your teeth to ensure your smile stays healthy. In addition to brushing and flossing every day, use an antibacterial mouthwash and any prescribed fluoride treatments. Food particles may accumulate on the teeth and in braces and, over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from the food bits and plaque can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and even tooth loss. Avoid these problems by becoming an oral hygiene whiz!

Brushing while Wearing Braces

Squeeze a small strip of fluoride toothpaste onto a soft bristle toothbrush. Move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Then, hold it at an angle and slowly and carefully brush all surfaces of each tooth and between braces. Brush up on the lower teeth and down on the upper teeth. Don’t forget about the roof of your mouth and your tongue too. Do this for at least two minutes each brushing session and rinse when you’re finished.

To avoid getting food stuck in your braces and on your teeth, brush your teeth four times per day while wearing braces including:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

You’ll need to replace your toothbrush more often when you’re rocking appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, swap it out for a new one.

Flossing while Wearing Braces

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to get rid of food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you have braces but it’s super important to do it every day.

Use a reusable floss threader to get under your archwire. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You’ll be able to hear the squeak of floss against your clean teeth so you’ll know when the job is done. Be careful around the wire and don’t floss too forcefully or put a lot of pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between each set of teeth up to the gum line. Don’t forget to get behind your back teeth too.

If you’re flossing without a threader, wrap the ends of your dental floss around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between your teeth unwrapping clean floss from around your fingers as you go so that you’ve used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Follow the same routine as you would with a floss threader.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you initially begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.


There are very few true orthodontic emergencies but we’re always here to help you if something goes wrong. If you have a broken appliance or intense pain, please call us as soon as possible and we’ll fit you in. However, in most cases, you can fix orthodontic problems at home while you’re waiting to see us. While these tricks will help temporarily, be aware that you’ll still need a repair appointment so don’t forget to contact us.

There’s not much to do in this instance and most patients will lose one at some point during treatment. Give us a call and we’ll let you know if it needs to be replaced.

Right after you get your braces put on, and sometimes after an adjustment, your teeth and mouth will be a little sensitive. To alleviate any discomfort, you can take acetaminophen or another non-aspirin pain reliever. Follow the instructions on the package carefully. You may also dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water and gargle with the mixture. A warm washcloth or a heating pad is another option for reducing soreness in your jaw.

First, call our office to see if the bracket needs to be refitted. If you have a situation where you have to cut the wire or slide a bracket off of it, again, use nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol.

Try moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire won’t move, cover the end of it with a small piece of orthodontic wax. If the wire is really poking your cheek, very carefully cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol.

Attempt to put the wire back in place using tweezers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If that doesn’t work, you can put wax over the wire where it’s poking you. Break out your trusty clean and sterilized nail clippers if you have to cut the wire and cut it behind the last bracket in which it’s secured.

Foods to Avoid

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to give up a ton of your favorite foods while you’re wearing braces but you will have to modify your diet slightly. Stay away from anything really hard or sticky since hard foods can damage appliances and sticky ones can get caught in your wires and brackets. Enjoy sugary treats in moderation as sugar causes tooth decay.

Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Sugar Gum (Sugar-free Gum is okay)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst

Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls
  • Corn on the cob (off the cob is perfectly fine)
  • Raw apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Doritos and Cheetos
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Pizza crust

Minimize Sugary Foods like:

  • Cake
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy

Only Once a Day:

  • Soda
  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Other drinks with sugar
We also encourage our patients to try to break bad habits, like fingernail biting and pencil or pen chewing.. These activities can damage your braces.

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