there, my fellow metal mouth! Here are some tips to help you
survive the next months (or years) in braces.
or Buy a Dental Kit
yourself a dental kit to carry in your purse, car, or
briefcase. Keep extra supplies in your car, just in case,
particularly a container of water for swishing in your mouth,
if necessary. Your portable dental kit can contain:
travel or full-size toothbrush
small tube of toothpaste
floss and floss threaders (or the special floss with the
hard ends -- Glide make one type)
little spiral dental brush
picks that you can find in any drug store
packet of tissues
drops or spray, if you like those products
can keep your portable dental supplies in a zipper plastic
bag, or find a small cosmetics bag at a drug store or variety
store like Target, Wal-Mart or K-Mart.
they do come in black, and you can find ones without handles,
so don't worry about it looking too much like a purse! Those
little "perk" bags you get on airlines work well,
alternative is to buy this stuff already pre-packaged and save
yourself the trouble of searching for it all. Several months
after getting my braces, I created
Braces Survival Kit, a portable
orthodontic travel kit. (I expected to find a portable dental
kit for sale on the Web or elsewhere, but was amazed that none
existed. So, I created one!) This kit contains a
braces toothbrush, toothpaste, spiral brushes, Pick-a-Dent, a
folding mirror, a pop-up folding cup, Glide Threader Floss, and dental wax. Personally, I think
that it is better than cosmetic bags, especially for men (it
looks like an upscale PDA case). And, because it opens flat
like a book, you're never "digging" for those little
items that fall to the bottom of an amenities bag.
proud to say that I've sold thousands of DentaKit Braces
Survival Kits to people
all over the world, and have received many wonderful kudos
about the product from both orthodontic patients and
in a Public Restroom
it, sooner or later you'll eat out and have food stuck in your
braces. Sometimes, a discreet quick swish or two of water
dislodges it. Most times, it does not, and you must excuse
yourself and head for the restroom with your dental kit, or
risk grossing everyone out. (Hint: don't smile widely with
food in your braces and (probably) nobody will notice it).
your teeth in public restrooms (or even at the office) can be
embarrassing and even downright gross (dirty sinks, bad
smells, etc). Personally, if I must brush away from home, I
try to pick more "private" public restrooms (the
ones with one stall and one sink, and a door that locks). The
cleaner the restaurant, chances are, the cleaner the restroom.
Or at least you hope so. If the sink is wet or dirty, lay down
a few pieces of clean paper to give yourself a clean surface.
you will need to brush in a completely public restroom with a
bunch of sinks, where others come and go. Just go about your
business quickly and nonchalantly. Lots of people have braces,
lots of people have kids with braces, and lots of people had
braces when they were kids. Believe me, people are basically
sympathetic. Be as discreet as possible and nobody will care.
often will you need to brush in a public restroom? If you eat
out regularly, the answer is: a lot. If you know that you're
going back to the office (or back home) after eating, you
could wait until then. But letting food stay stuck in your
braces for hours isn't a good idea, and it certainly isn't
good for your breath, either.
once worked with a woman who had terrible acne. She excused
herself to the restroom twice a day to wash her face and
re-apply her special creams and makeup. Now think about that
-- no woman wants her coworkers to see her without makeup! If
she could take off her makeup every day in front of her other
female coworkers, you can brush your teeth in front of
yours! Just keep repeating to yourself, "It's No Big
The Usual Routine
their teeth slightly differently, but here's the routine I
and spit at least 3 or 4 times, or until most food
particles are out of my mouth
a dental pick to dislodge food from under the hooks and
and spit 1 or 2 more times
any stubborn food that is wrapped around the hooks or
under the brackets
and spit again
and spit again
my teeth to ensure that I got all the food off my braces.
it's the end of the day, I floss my teeth
with Pain and Discomfort
about a month, you will begin to feel more comfortable with
your braces. However, there will still be times when,
seemingly out of the blue, your teeth hurt or your gums get
sore. Also, after your monthly adjustments, your teeth might
hurt for a few days, or up to a week. Keep some pain killer in
your purse, briefcase, or car for these times. You also may often bite the insides of your cheeks when you're getting
used to your braces. Fortunately, this heals quickly (in about
a week) and builds up some scar tissue, which is less
After you have had braces for
more than 6 months, your teeth get used to the extra pressure.
At this point, an adjustment might not hurt at all, but
usually your teeth feel sore for about a week afterwards. For
some people, the teeth don't feel sore again until the next
adjustment. But for others, the pain dissipates for a week or
two and then a week before the next adjustment, your teeth may
be sore again Why is this?
The cell regeneration process
occurs after an adjustment. Your teeth are under force and
move and causes some cells (bone, tissue) to break down and
new cells to regenerate. After the regeneration happens the
teeth and supporting structures begin giving and moving again
and the cycle continues. This is why most orthodontists see
patients every 4-5 weeks. The cell regeneration process
typically takes about 3 weeks and that gives patients enough
time after an adjustment to be ready for another one.
Because today's wires move
teeth slowly over a long period of time, the whole cell
regeneration doesn't stop/go/stop/go as it used to with older
style wires, now it just moves your teeth continually.
Movement continues until the wire is fully back to the
original size and shape, at which time you are ready for a
stiffer and larger arch wire. (Thanks to ArchWired.com reader
Mary from Oregon for this helpful piece of information, which
she got from her orthodontist!)
sores are particularly nasty when you have braces. If you get
a canker sore near the metal hooks, it really hurts. Get
something like Anbesol (a dental anesthetic) from the drug
store and apply it at the offending site several times a day
until the canker sore heals. Another couple of products I've
found very helpful are Zilactin-B and Colgate Ora-Base. Both
of these products form a protective skin over the sore and
help it to heal. See our page Ouch!
I have a Canker Sore! for complete information about
helpful products and remedies.
Toothbrush for Braces
can use a regular toothbrush with braces. Personally, I really
like my Sonicare toothbrush, but most electric
toothbrushes, such as the Braun Oral-b do a a good job. I think the electric
toothbrushes make cleaning easier and leave your braces and
teeth cleaner than manual toothbrushes. If you haven't used an
electric toothbrush before this, you may want to consider
getting one. You will need to buy new brush heads
more often than normal, but it's worth it.
you use a manual braces toothbrush, search for one that is
"orthodontic cut" otherwise known as
"v-cut." The bristles are tapered inward to form a
V. The indentation in the middle of the bristles helps clean
your brackets and teeth more effectively than a regular
you can't find an orthodontic toothbrush in your local
store, ask your orthodontist. Or, you can buy a toothbrush for
braces online at DentaKit.com
other places online.
plain English, flossing is a big pain in the rear with braces!
You must get the floss under the wire to do each individual
tooth. This is easier if you use a floss threader (a large
plastic needle) and waxed floss, or Glide (mylar) floss. Glide,
Thornton, SturdyFloss, and Oral-B also make strands of floss that are
"hard" on one end, so you don't need a plastic threader. Try a few types and see which one works for
you. DentaKit.com sells
these special packages of floss for braces, if you have a hard
time finding them in your local drugstore. An enterprising
orthodontic patient also invented the the
tool, which you can use with any type of floss.
can be downright impossible on those back molars, so take it
slowly. After a while you'll figure out a technique or two,
and it will go faster. (For example, using your finger to
guide the floss threader so it doesn't get stuck under your
lips). Ask you orthodontist how often you should floss. Maybe
you'll only have to do it a couple of times a week! And by the
way, if you have any small gaps between your molars (or if you
develop any gaps in the course of your treatment), be
especially diligent about flossing those areas. Food
(especially shreds of meat) get stuck in small gaps very
easily, and often aren't revealed until you floss!
will need to have your braces "adjusted" every 4 to
6 weeks. This takes only about 20 minutes. Contrary to what
you might think, this does not involve "tightening"
anything! When you arrive at your orthodontist's office,
the dental assistant will take off the old little rubber bands
(ligating modules), then may also take off the wire. You now
have the opportunity to brush and floss almost sans-braces. If
you have an electric toothbrush, bring it to your adjustment
appointment to get your teeth really clean while the wires and
ligating modules are off!
a new wire will be put on, and new ligating modules will
be applied. This can hurt a little, more from the pressure on
your teeth than anything. Personally, I've found that it's
worse on the top front teeth. But the pain doesn't last long,
only a few minutes, then you get used to it. If you're
sensitive to pain, take some Ibuprofen or pain reliever before
your adjustment visit.
an adjustment, your teeth can hurt for several hours to
several days afterwards. This can range from that "hit in
the teeth with a baseball" feeling to just a dull feeling
of pressure. During these times, revert to your "soft
food" diet and be good to yourself. By the time you're
ready for your next adjustment, your teeth won't hurt at all.
"H" Word: Headgear
some adults have headgear as part of their treatment. There
are many types of headgear, and your orthodontist will choose
the right one for you, if you need it. Of course, you don't
WANT to wear headgear, but you might NEED to for a while to
help your bite.
freak out too much about this. While less adults wear headgear
than just braces, it isn't as rare as you think! Here's a link
from the M's Mouthwear website, in which a 31-year-old man
talks about his experience with headgear. In addition,
here is an article from our site
about adults and headgear.
on Your Self-Esteem