Learning that your smile could benefit from braces can be an overwhelming experience. On the one hand, it’s exciting to know you’re about to embark on an adventure that will end in a healthier, straighter smile. But on the other, there’s a lot of uncertainty – will they hurt? How long will I have to wear braces? How much will they change my appearance? Will I still be able to eat my favorite foods? It’s not unusual to end up feeling pretty apprehensive about the whole thing!
Here at Craig & Straight Orthodontics, we’re well aware of the reputation traditional braces can have, and we want to set your mind at ease if you’re worried about what’s to come with your treatment. To boost your confidence, we’ve put together this handy Braces Survival Guide. If the idea of having braces put on has you bummed out, we’ve got several tips and tricks to help take you from scared to prepared! Keep reading to arm yourself with some extra helpful orthodontic knowledge.
Preparation and relaxation
In the hours before your initial braces-on appointment, reach for an over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen. Taking it before the procedure will help limit overall soreness. While you shouldn’t expect too much pain during the actual process itself, ibuprofen is great at preventing lingering discomfort during your appointment and in the days that follow.
You might also find that you have some pain at various times throughout your treatment. This can be caused by tooth movement, or by having your wires tightened during regular adjustment appointments. Once again, ibuprofen is recommended, since it reduces inflammation and provides pain relief.
No matter what you choose to help combat the post-braces pain, your mouth will probably still feel pretty sore at first. A simple trick you can try is rinsing your mouth out with salt water twice a day to help heal your irritated lips and cheeks. This also helps to keep your brackets and wires clean of food build-up, which is an important part of your dental hygiene routine. An oral pain relief gel-like Anbesol or Orajel can take the edge off any irritation or soreness in your cheeks or lips caused by your brackets or wires.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking it easy, either! Embrace the lazy lifestyle, at least temporarily. Get plenty of sleep and keep your activity to a minimum for the first day or two after getting your braces on. This is also good advice for the day of or the day after an adjustment appointment.
Wax on, wax off
The first week you have your braces on is likely to be the most uncomfortable. The good news is, there are several things you can do to combat any discomfort and pain you’re experiencing while your mouth adjusts to a major change. One of the most common complaints we hear from patients who are new to braces is irritation caused by the places where the wires rub the inside of the lips and cheeks. An orthodontic wax can fix you up in no time! Simply place a pea-size amount of wax over the bracket or wire causing the irritation for instant relief.
Focus on food
In the first few weeks of wearing braces, the wire you start off with will be quite thin. You’ll be moving on to more substantial wires in the future, but in the meantime, you’ll want to be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Anything that’s really sticky, crunchy, chewy, or hard can damage your orthodontic treatment before it even gets going. Mashed potatoes, milkshakes, soups, and smoothies – these are just a few of the items you can eat and drink guilt-free while getting used to your new restrictions. It gets a whole lot easier after the first week or two, so don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it all! And if all else fails, ice cream is totally an acceptable food group after getting braces put on or having them adjusted.
Keeping it clean
After your mac ‘n’ cheese and milkshake, make sure you head straight to the sink to do the whole dental hygiene thing! Keeping your teeth clean is super important all the time, but especially during orthodontic treatment. Not being vigilant about the cleanliness and health of your teeth can actually lead to extra time in braces, and nobody wants that. You should aim to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, every day. Some companies make toothbrushes and flossers that are designed to work especially for braces, making your job much easier. A water flosser such as the Waterpik is also an excellent option for keeping your mouth clean and irritant-free.
Up your selfie game
Who doesn’t love before and after photos? Keep track of your transformation by taking a photo before you have your new braces put on, then regular photos over time, ending with the big reveal of your brand new smile. This gives you a goal to look forward to and can make the whole process a little bit more satisfying and exciting. Bonus: you’ll have ample chances to improve your selfie skills and try out all those new Snapchat filters!
Craig & Streight care about your comfort
It’s our hope that by sharing these tips, we’ll be able to make your braces treatment a less stressful, more positive experience. It’s normal for braces to feel pretty foreign at first, but there’s no reason for them to be unnecessarily painful or uncomfortable. We want you to be confident in your journey to a healthier, straighter smile, and our friendly and experienced team will do whatever we can to make treatment as easy as possible for you. If you’re looking for more information on traditional braces treatment in the Oklahoma City area, give us a call at one of our three conveniently located offices in Norman, Mustang, or South OKC. You can also schedule an initial consultation by clicking here. Remember, your comfort and confidence are priorities here at Craig & Streight Orthodontics. We can’t wait to work with you and your smile!