According to recent estimates, about 4 million Americans are currently wearing dental braces. In our relentless pursuit of straight smiles, that number only continues to grow.
Even though it’s so common, the process isn’t completely foolproof. Not knowing how to care for your hardware can lead to problems that extend the length of your treatment.
Want to keep your braces in tip-top shape? Read on to learn about some of the most common problems with braces and how to avoid them.
1. Poor Dental Hygiene
Having braces on does make it harder to brush and floss your teeth like you’re used to. Unfortunately, they also do a great job of trapping food particles that can lead to plaque, tartar, and cavities.
While brushing and flossing aren’t easy, they’re still necessary—you’ll just have to get a bit more creative. Try using a special braces brush (they look like mini bottle cleaning brushes) to scrub out the area underneath the wire and around the brackets. A floss threader can help you floss in those hard-to-reach areas as well.
Finally, if you haven’t already, add mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine. It can help kill any remaining bacteria and flush out any tiny food particles you might have missed.
2. Tooth Staining
One common problem that people complain of after getting their braces off is uneven staining on the fronts of their teeth. When the brackets are glued on, that part of your enamel is protected from wear and tear. But if the rest of your teeth get stained throughout your treatment, you might find that you’re left with little white squares in the center of each tooth.
To avoid staining, try to cut back on soda, coffee, tea, and other drinks that darken your enamel. If you must drink them, use a reusable straw to keep the liquid off the fronts of your teeth. Make sure to brush regularly and ask your orthodontist for toothpaste and mouthwash recommendations.
3. Sore Mouth and Teeth
Your teeth have a lot of moving to do throughout your treatment, and they aren’t too thrilled about it. Shifting teeth can leave your mouth feeling sore and achy, making it difficult to eat and sleep.
This problem is to be expected. It’s usually worse right after you’ve had your braces tightened and fades within a few days. If you’re having trouble managing the pain on your own, try taking over-the-counter pain medicine and chewing sugar-free gum.
4. Cuts Inside Your Mouth
The insides of our mouths are made of delicate, sensitive tissue. This means that the sharp ends on wires or brackets can sometimes leave you with cuts or irritation on the inside of your cheeks, lips, and tongue.
Your braces shouldn’t be sharp enough to do any serious damage, so if you notice a sharp spot, contact your orthodontist to get it fixed. In the meantime, cover the affected area with a bit of dental wax. That will smooth it out and keep your mouth protected for a few days.
5. Snapped or Missing Ligatures
The little rubber bands on the front of your brackets are called ligatures. They keep the wire attached securely to the brackets so your braces can be tightened.
Every once in awhile, one of these ligatures may snap or fall off. This often happens while you’re eating, so you may swallow the band without realizing it.
Don’t panic—the band won’t hurt you and the other ligatures will still hold your braces in place. Call up your orthodontist to schedule a repair appointment and avoid eating any crunchy or sticky foods in the meantime.
6. Broken Brackets and Wires
Speaking of crunchy and sticky foods, these two things can lead to a whole host of problems with your braces. It’s hard to give up munching on popcorn, chewing caramel, and biting into a whole apple, but they can quickly lead to broken wires and brackets.
If you end up with a piece of broken metal in your mouth, cover it up with dental wax as well as you can to prevent injury. Don’t try to remove or cut the broken hardware, as you could end up damaging the rest of your braces and losing progress on your treatment. Instead, book an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as you can to get it repaired.
7. Temporary Speech Difficulties
Braces take up a lot of space in your mouth. They push your lips outward, and if you have any other apparatuses like a Herbst or rubber bands, they give your tongue less space to move. Add that into the fact that your teeth are shifting around, and it’s no surprise that many people develop a slight speech impediment when they get braces.
This speech difficulty may clear up in a few weeks after you’ve gotten used to having braces in your mouth. For some people, though, it sticks around throughout most of the treatment. Don’t worry, it isn’t permanent—your speech will return to normal once treatment is over.
8. Slow Progress
For most people, dental braces are a slow process. Most people can expect to wear theirs for at least 1-2 years, though more complicated treatments might take 3 or more.
If your teeth aren’t moving into alignment as quickly as you’d like, take a minute to see how well you’re following your treatment plan.
Are you wearing your rubber bands as often as you should be? What about headgear or other orthodontic appliances? Have you been missing appointments or breaking brackets often?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can likely speed up your treatment by following your orthodontist’s orders. It may not be fun, but the more you comply, the sooner you’ll get to see your metal-free smile.
Watch out for These Common Problems With Braces and Keep Your Teeth Safe
It takes some care and forethought, but now that you know what to look out for you can avoid many of the common problems with braces during your treatment.
Looking for an orthodontist in Charlotte to help you or your children get straight, healthy teeth? Contact us today to see what treatments we offer or ask your dentist to send over a referral.