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.

How to Take Care of Your Teeth

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. Besides 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. Bacteria resulting from the food bits and plaque can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss.

Use these tips to avoid these problems and become an oral hygiene whiz!

How to Brush

  • 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.
When to Brush

Avoid getting food stuck in your braces and on your teeth, by brushing your teeth four times per day at these times:

  • 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.

How to Floss

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.

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With a Floss Threader

  • 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 the 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.

Without a Floss Threader

  • 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.


When Dr. Sturgill or Dr. Williams first puts your braces on, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal, and we promise your mouth won't be sore forever.

To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for a few 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.

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 Dr. Sturgill or Dr. Williams.

Following instructions is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.

For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn 20-22 hours per day as recommended by Dr. Sturgill or Dr. Williams.

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 Hard 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
Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid
  • Sugary Gum (Sugar-free Gum is okay)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst
Cut Down on Sugary Food & Drinks
  • Cake
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy
Only Once a Day
  • Soda
  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Other drinks with sugar
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Make New Habits

We also encourage our braces patients at Sturgill Ortho to try to break bad habits, like fingernail biting and chewing on pencils or pens.

These activities can also damage your braces.