For patients of orthodontist Dr. Seth Senestraro, a straighter, healthier smile can mean a lifetime of improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Of course for many patients and parents, getting braces comes with a lot of questions. From what they can eat to how long they need to wear their orthodontic appliance, patients have plenty to be curious about when it comes to getting adult braces or kids braces. To help you have a better idea of what to expect, here are a few answers to some common questions about braces.

Why is good oral hygiene so important when wearing braces?

Patients should always consider practicing quality oral hygiene a top priority whether they wear braces or not. However, plaque and food can become trapped in the small spaces between wires and brackets, which can lead to the development of stains on tooth enamel and dental decay. Oral bacteria can also react to the foods you eat and the metal in braces to create a bleaching effect that can cause permanent white spots to develop on the surface of your teeth. Having a straighter smile won’t be as beneficial if your teeth are permanently stained due to wearing braces, so make sure brushing and flossing daily become a top priority during, and after, treatment.

How often should you brush with braces?

Ideally, patients will take the time to brush after every meal and use a floss threader at least daily to clean underneath wires and between metal brackets. To make sure you didn’t miss any spots, always take the time to visually check your braces in the mirror after brushing. If you don’t have the opportunity to brush following a meal, take the time to at least rinse thoroughly with water.

What does it feel like to wear braces?

Braces work to correct the position of a patient’s teeth through the application of pressure that slowly shifts a smile into the desired position. To achieve this result, the wires used to move your teeth into position need to be tightened during every visit to our orthodontist’s office. Tightening causes pressure on your teeth and some slight discomfort. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and eating soft foods can help. Braces can also rub against the delicate tissue that lines the inside of your mouth. If this becomes bothersome, Dr. Senestraro can provide wax to place over any poky wires and brackets to eliminate any chaffing.

How long do you have to wear braces?

The length of time patients need to wear braces depends on how significant an alteration needs to be made to the position of their teeth. In most cases, braces are worn between 18 to 30 months. Once your braces have been removed, you’ll need to wear a retainer, which helps maintain the new position of your teeth while aligning and setting the tissue around the newly positioned teeth occurs.

What foods should you avoid eating?

Unfortunately, soda, candy, potato chips, and other starchy and sugary foods can promote gum disease and tooth decay. Chewy and sticky foods like dried fruits, chewing gum, taffy, and caramel can stick to the wires and brackets of your braces and be difficult to remove. Chewing and biting on hard foods like popcorn, nuts, and hard candies can break brackets and loosen wires. You should try to avoid any potential damage to the wires on your front teeth by cutting apples, carrots, and other healthy, crunchy foods into smaller chunks before eating. If you have any other questions about what getting braces can mean for you or your family, feel free to ask Dr. Seth Senestraro during your next appointment.