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Over 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces to fix overbites or underbites, crooked teeth, and correct irregular jaw positions. 

Braces are the key to a winning smile so it’s crucial to protect them so they do an effective job. If you’re not sure how to do this, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are five ways to protect your braces.

1. Brush and Floss Every Day

If you’re unsure how to protect braces, the best place to start is by maintaining good oral hygiene. Brush in the morning and evening to properly remove food debris from around the braces to protect your teeth and gums.

First, rinse your mouth out with water to loosen food caught in your braces. Then remove elastics or any other removable components before brushing. 

Next, hold a manual or electric toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and move back-and-forth, covering the tooth’s entire surface area. Focus on the wires and brackets of the braces and start from top-to-bottom, remembering to clean each tooth with gentle pressure. To get a better look, hold back your lip and brush the bracket areas. 

A great way to get between your teeth or clean between the wires is by getting interdental brushes. If there are tighter spaces, use floss thread to remove leftover food that your toothbrush and interdental brush can’t reach. Work it back-and-forth several times between the teeth and wire.

And, for good measure, finish with a swig of mouthwash.

2. Avoid Certain Foods

Start protecting your braces by watching what you eat. Braces have become sturdier thanks to modern technology but certain food that can damage the wire, rubber bands, and the bracket.

As a general rule, avoid food that is sticky, hard, or chewy. These include:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Gum
  • Apples
  • Corn on the cob 

You must also avoid habits like chewing on pens, nails, or straws as it could harm your braces. Make adjustments so instead of biting into an apple, cut it up into small pieces or choose hull-less popcorn when you’re at the movies.

Recommended foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Fruits without pits like bananas
  • Light crackers
  • Noodle dishes

You must maintain a nutritious diet for your oral and overall health. When you do this, you’ll reap the benefits of your orthodontic treatment as a balanced diet sends nutrients to bones and tissues, crucial when you’re wearing braces.

3. Visit Your Orthodontist Regularly 

If your child needs help protecting braces, visit their orthodontist, and avoid skipping appointments. Once the braces are fitted, your little one must visit the orthodontist every six weeks for adjustments.

If they experience pressure for more than a week, contact the orthodontist so they can see whether the braces aren’t adjusted properly or if a part is broken. 

Your child must also visit a dental hygienist twice a year to ensure their teeth and gums are healthy. The oral hygienist will also check for signs of gum disease or cavities as this is a risk if you wear braces but don’t maintain good oral hygiene.

4. Wear a Mouthguard

Not sure how to protect your braces in a fighting sport? 

You must tell your child, “protect your braces while playing sports” by wearing a mouthguard. It’s possible to get a custom-fitted mouthguard that fits snugly over braces.

Orthodontic mouthguards also protect your brackets from impact-related damage so your little one’s lips aren’t caught in the braces which can be excruciating (as you can imagine!). 

Or you can get a boil and bite version at a sporting goods or drug store. For this type of mouthguard to work, you must boil them in hot water and ask your child to bite down so it shapes itself to their mouth.

But although they’re cheaper, they may not fit as well or offer the best protection so it’s better to get orthodontic mouthguards. 

Mouthguards are crucial during sports otherwise the wires or brackets may break or bend which causes pain and discomfort. Further, broken braces may affect teeth movement if the problem isn’t repaired in a timely fashion.

5. Fix Small Issues Immediately 

If wires break or protrude because of an injury, you must visit the orthodontist immediately.

It’s unlikely you need an emergency procedure performed unless you have other injuries like a cracked or missing tooth. 

There may be a day or two until your appointment but you can use orthodontist wax to fix issues like a protruding wire. To do this, take a pencil from the eraser-end and position the wire to a less uncomfortable area. Then, cover the end of the wire with orthodontic wax so it doesn’t cut into the mouth. 

You can also use wax to reattach loose brackets or acts as a cushion between the bracket and gums. If your child has loose bands, these will need to be replaced so save the band and schedule an appointment.

The same goes for loose spacers.

That’s How to Protect Your Braces 

Now you know how to protect your braces whether it’s playing sports or avoiding food that can cause damage.

It’s important to regularly visit the orthodontist so they can make necessary adjustments so avoid skipping appointments. Further, your child must brush and floss daily to maintain healthy gums.

Whenever your little one has a small issue like a bent wire, schedule an appointment immediately as it could compromise the teeth.

If you or your child needs orthodontic treatment, we’d love to help. Complete a referral form here.