Common Problems With Braces

Young woman pointing to braces with a questionable look on her face.

As you begin orthodontic treatment, changes will occur in your mouth that could be uncomfortable or unexpected. Braces help patients get the beautiful and straight smiles that they deserve, but orthodontic treatment is not an easy process. As your teeth begin to shift, you can experience some tooth tenderness, lip sores, or pokey wires. These are all normal occurrences, but some patients can feel uneasy. Regular orthodontic visits can remedy these situations and help you feel back to normal in no time. Find out what to expect with braces and how you can treat these issues!

 

Problems That Braces Can Cause

As you begin orthodontic care, there are some problems to look out for that are commonly associated with braces. Although most of these issues are not serious, it is still good to know what to expect whenever you begin care. Once braces are placed, the process of fixing your malocclusion begins and your teeth will start to shift into their correct positions. As this occurs, soreness and swollen gums are both very common reactions to braces. Swollen gums can also influence tooth tenderness, which normally lasts between 2-4 days after braces are first placed. Dull aches can also accompany tooth tenderness but can be relieved by eating soft foods and an over-the-counter pain medication, if needed. Other common problems with braces include lip and cheek sores, pokey wires, and loose bands and/or brackets. Lip and cheek sores develop as the brackets rub against your mouth but can be remedied by placing a small piece of wax on the part of the braces that’s causing the irritation. Pokey wires can be caused by sticky foods or when a patient picks at their braces, and wax can also be used to cover the pokey piece or you can try pushing the wire back into place with a Q-tip or pencil eraser. Loose or broken bands and brackets normally aren’t considered an emergency and can be covered in wax until the next orthodontic appointment. If the broken bracket holds a rubber band in place or if a bracket on one of the upper or lower front teeth breaks, you will need an appointment as soon as possible to fix the bracket.

 

Serious problems that can be caused by braces include demineralization and gingivitis. Demineralization creates white scars that look like tiny white boxes and outline the area where the bracket used to be. These white scars are caused as food left on teeth come in contact with bacteria and create acid. The acid destroys calcium and phosphate in the teeth, which causes decalcification or white scars. Braces do not cause demineralization, but bad hygiene during treatment usually leads to white scars. Unfortunately, white scars normally don’t disappear after braces are removed and can even lead to cavities. Gingivitis, on the other hand, occurs as the gum tissues become inflamed and is one of the first steps to gum disease. Redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding can result from gingivitis, but can be entirely prevented by brushing rigorously around the brackets and flossing regularly.

 

Importance of Good Oral HygieneUp close photo of woman cleaning in between her braces with a proxabrush.

Many problems that come with braces can be avoided or lessened by sticking to a strict oral hygiene regimen. To properly maintain your braces, make sure to brush after every meal, use threadable floss or a floss threader and use a proxabrush. Even though it may seem excessive to brush after each meal, this practice can get rid of remaining food that may be stuck in your braces and prevent plaque and acid from building up (which helps prevent demineralization and gingivitis). Floss threaders are placed between the teeth and under the wire to aid in flossing. Threaders help you floss between each tooth, which can be difficult to do with braces in the way. A proxabrush is typically referred to as a “Christmas tree brush” and helps clean between each bracket. By placing the proxabrush under the archwire and between each bracket, you can thoroughly clean the bracket and remove any stuck food particles.

 

Maintaining a good diet, especially during orthodontic care, should be another important part of your oral health routine. Sticky or hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, gum, caramel and chips, can damage your orthodontic appliance and hurt your teeth. Although the temptation may be great to cheat and eat one of these items, the consequence of doing so can be costly and painful. Eating these foods also gives you a higher risk of developing cavities during your time with braces, which can be difficult to treat. Make a list of the foods you should and should not eat, and stick to your oral health goals to keep your teeth and braces healthy.

 

Starting Orthodontic Care On The Right Foot

If you or a member of your family is in need of orthodontic care, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our dedicated staff is ready to help you achieve your oral health goals and get a beautiful, straight smile. Call now to find out what options we have for braces and how soon you can begin treatment!