Life With Braces

Life With Braces

What Can You Eat?

Although each bracket is bonded on the tooth with a special adhesive, care must be taken to avoid causing a bracket to come off. Foods that are very sticky or very hard can cause damage, which will result in extra appointments, inconvenience, and delay your teeth’s progress, thereby extending treatment time.

  • Definitely to be avoided: Bubblegum, taffy, dried fruit, raisins, caramels, nuts, Doritos, chewing meat off the bone, chewing on ice cubes or hard candy, granola cereals, peanut brittle, chewing on objects such as pens, pencils, and finger nails.
  • Allowed but be careful:
    • Corn on the cob – cut it off the cob
    • Raw vegetables – cut into small pieces
    • Apples – cut into slender wedges
    • Peaches & plums – cut away from the pit
    • Pizza crust – cut hard outer edge into small pieces
    • Popcorn – only when popped, with no small kernels
    • Crusty rolls, bread & bagels – cut into small pieces
    • Chocolate bars that have nuts and/or caramel, e.g. Mars, Oh Henry, Mr. Big
    • Hard taco shells

Chewing sugarless gum is permitted throughout your treatment. Watch for foods that are high in sugar content. There are lots of little areas for food to hide and cause cavities.

Brushing & Oral Hygiene:

It is important to maintain a clean mouth at all times, but it is even more important throughout your treatment. The care you take today will ensure a beautiful smile forever. This means that special care must be given to your teeth and your gum tissue. We will show you in detail how to take care of your braces, teeth and gums, and we will provide you with written instructions when you leave our office to help you remember.

Poor oral hygiene can result in permanent “marks” or “scars” on your teeth, due to plaque build-up. These “marks” or “scars” are referred to as decalcification, which is actually the onset of DECAY, and can begin to appear within as little as two weeks of exercising inadequate oral hygiene habits.

Also, your family dentist is an important part of your oral healthcare team. We recommend that you visit your dentist every six months throughout your treatment.

Brushing with Braces

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Flossing with Braces

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What happens when you don’t have good oral hygiene.

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General Soreness

You may find that your teeth will be tender during the two or three days after you get your braces on. The wire that is attached to the brackets on your teeth applies pressure to your teeth and starts them moving. Nature helps the teeth loosen to relieve the pressure, but there is temporary discomfort while this happens. Gradually, the fibers that support the teeth in the bone get stretched and squeezed. After about three days, the teeth feel much more comfortable.

At each appointment, the process is repeated. However, because the teeth are loosened from their original position, each new adjustment is easier and little or no discomfort follows.

Advil may be needed for some patients over the first few days, because the teeth will be tender. It will be more comfortable if you maintain a softer diet, such as pasta, soups and soft sandwiches. Chewing sugarless gum between meals can also be comforting.

The lips, cheeks and tongue may also feel irritated for a few days as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Warm salt-water rinses can be used along with wax to protect the area. This wax will come off with eating, brushing or drinking cold drinks. Sugarless gum can be used at the back of the mouth if you have run out of wax.

Loosening of Teeth:

You may notice throughout your treatment that some of your teeth seem to be loose. They are, but don’t worry! In order for teeth to be moved, they must be loosened. Eventually, your teeth will again become firmly fixed in their new and corrected positions (and will stay there with the help of your retainers).


Why are they used? During your treatment, we may ask you to wear elastics that attach to your braces. These elastics add extra force to the braces to help move your teeth. The size of elastics and the braces that they connect to will depend on which teeth need to be moved and in which direction. Both the size and configuration may change from time to time during your treatment.

When are they worn? Elastics are generally worn all the time – day and night- unless we instruct you otherwise. The only times they should be removed is while you are eating and brushing your teeth. They should be replaced immediately after brushing your teeth following each meal.

When are they changed? Elastics should be replaced at least once a day or they will loose their snap. You should carry some with you at all times, so if one breaks in your mouth you can put a new one in right away. If you run out, please call us and tell us what size you need. We’ll get a new supply ready for you to pick up.

What can be expected? When you first start wearing elastics, your teeth may become a bit sore because of the added pressure. However, if you wear them as instructed, that soreness will be gone in a few days. You may also notice some tooth loosening. Don’t panic! This is normal in the movement of teeth – they won’t stay loose.

Why are they important? Elastics are an essential part of your orthodontic treatment. They work together with your braces to move your teeth into their correct positions. They must be worn as instructed if you are to achieve an optimal orthodontic result. You are entirely responsible for this part of your treatment. Failure to wear your elastics as instructed will slow or even stop your treatment progress and result in a compromised orthodontic outcome.


The success of orthodontics, more than any other area of dentistry, is highly dependent on the patient’s cooperation in the following areas:

  • Thorough and frequent brushing and flossing;
  • Avoidance of hard and / or sticky foods;
  • Wearing of elastics, headgear or other appliances, and retainers as prescribed and instructed;
  • Care of appliances as directed; and
  • Attendance at all scheduled appointments.

Without the patient’s commitment to the success of the treatment plan developed by Dr. Tocchio, an optimal orthodontic result will not be attained.

Retainer Wear:

After your braces are removed, you are ready to begin a new, but very important phase of your orthodontic treatment. At this point, the active phase of your treatment has been completed and now the bone needs a chance to rebuild and become firm again. Your teeth will want to return to their original positions, but your retainers will prevent this from happening.


  • Always wear your retainers according to the instructions received from Dr. Tocchio and his team.
  • Take your retainers out when eating.
  • Take them out while playing sports.
  • ALWAYS put them in the case given to you when you are not wearing them – children are curious and dogs think they are delicious.
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers will remove the plaque and eliminate odours. Occasional use of a denture cleaning tablet will help to keep your retainer clean, but this should be done in addition to brushing, not instead of.
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments with us.


  • Place your retainers in very hot water or on hot car dashboards. They are made of plastic and may lose their shape and fit.
  • Take your retainers out by the front wire – they will break!
  • Put your retainers in your pocket – they might get broken or end up in the washing machine.
  • Wrap them in a napkin – they could get thrown away.

Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. It is expensive to replace them! If your retainers should break or you lose one, please call our office immediately. We NEVER recommend that patients stop wearing their retainers completely!

Fixed Lingual Retainers:

You may receive a fixed retainer that is bonded to your teeth and becomes a permanent fixture in your mouth. This retainer will maintain your teeth in their new positions. Should any cement come off of a tooth, it is important to call our office immediately to have it repaired. It is imperative to clean properly behind your teeth by brushing the area as often as possible.

Tartar control toothpastes are essential. Flossing on a daily basis is also crucial and can be done using “floss threaders”. Thread the floss into the loop and pass the threader between the teeth under the wire. Hold onto one end of floss and pull the other end through. Floss between the tooth and gum (each space has 2 teeth). Pull straight out when finished. Threaders can be reused. Floss threaders are available at larger drug stores in the dental care display.


If you play sports, we recommend that you wear a protective mouth guard. We feel very strongly about protecting your teeth and braces. We are happy to provide a braces friendly mouth guard to our patients, at no additional charge.

In the event that you have an accident involving your face, check your mouth and appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or your appliances damaged, call us right away for an appointment.

Ortho First Aid:

Occasionally, issues may arise regarding your braces that require you to see us for a repair. The most common of these are loose wires, bands or brackets. Please see the section on Ortho First Aid under the Patient Information area, for self-help methods you can use until your repair appointment.