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Headgear to Chewing Gum: Taking Care of Teeth with Braces

Feb 19, 2015 - 11:02 AM EST |  Posted under: Orthodontics

If you have crooked teeth, a trip to the orthodontist is in your future. Orthodontists specialize in correcting the way your teeth line up and fit together when you bite. Your orthodontist can take X-rays and make molds of your teeth to determine if you need to wear corrective brackets called braces, or a retainer. The idea of wearing metal in your mouth may sound unpleasant, but when your brackets are finally removed, your teeth will be perfectly straight. Orthodontic brackets work by putting continual pressure onto your teeth over time. This forces them into the desired position.

How to Care for Teeth with Braces

Caring for braces properly is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy during the corrective process. You’ll need to visit your orthodontist regularly, so he or she can ensure that the wires and brackets are performing properly and staying in place. Maintaining good oral hygiene is critical so that you don’t develop cavities while wearing your orthodontic gear. You’ll also have to make adjustments in your eating habits. It will be difficult to chew hard foods like pretzels or bagels. Chewing gum is off-limits, and you must limit your consumption of candy and soft drinks. Your orthodontist will provide a list of foods to avoid. If headgear is part of your treatment, be sure to wear it consistently to speed your progress.

Taking Care of Your Retainer

Retainers are similar to mouth guards worn during sports, but they’re more comfortable. They’re created to help teeth retain their new position once orthodontic brackets have done their work. You’ll wear your retainer at all times except for when you’re eating and sleeping. If you skip days, you’ll probably end up wearing your retainer longer. Because it stays in your mouth all day, your retainer can collect food particles and bacteria easily, so it’s important to clean it regularly. You can brush your retainer when you brush your teeth. Soaking it in mouthwash may also help. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions for care and maintenance of all your orthodontic appliances, and you’ll get the best results from your treatment.

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