The three main issues that orthodontic patients face while living with braces: Discomfort, oral hygiene, and staining of orthodontic appliances from certain foods and beverages.

During orthodontic treatment you will get your braces “tightened” or “adjusted” every 6-8 weeks. After an adjustment appointment you might experience discomfort for a few days and up to a week. Take some pain reliever (Advil, Tylenol) to help you deal with the discomfort. You may need to eat only soft ar liquid foods for a few days. Protein shakes, such as the Atkins or Slim Fast shakes, made ideal meal replacements if chewing even soft food is uncomfortable. Harder foods should be cut into small pieces and chewed carefully and slowly. To get more protein into your diet, try adding protein powder or tofu to some of your meals or drinks. Within a week of gettin braces adjusted, most people an usually eat normal food again. After a few months with braces, adjustments won’t hurt as much.

Good oral hygiene is extremely important during orthodontic treatment. If you brush and floss regularly you will make sure that by the end of the treatment your teeth and gums will be in the best shape, and your smile will not only look straight and beautiful, but healthy at the same time.

In general, to clean your teeth and braces takes more effort on your part. When you brush, it is best to use fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush, which is in good condition. You need to brush around the braces and every surface of your teeth – fronts, sides and backs. Don’t forget to thoroughly brush your gums, tongue, and roof of the mouth as well. Inspect your teeth to make sure they are spotlessly clean and also check for loose or broken brackets. If there’s a problem, call our orthodontic office for recommendations and to schedule an appointment if needed.

The best time to floss is before going to bed because you won’t feel pressed for time then. When you floss with braces on, you might need a floss threader. It is a reusable tool that helps you to get the floss underneath your archwire without difficulty. When flossing, make sure you clean thoroughly along and under the gumline. The process might seem laborious, but it is extremely important to keep your teeth and gums in top condition. Elk Grove Village orthodontist Dr. Yarmolyuk can also recommend special cleaning aids that will streamline and improve the process, for example, interproximal toothbrush (allows to remove plaque and food particles near the braces with more efficiency), prescription fluoride toothpaste/rinse (give the teeth maximum fluoride protection), and power toothbrush/water irrigator (make brushing easier as well as more efficient).

In addition to thorough brushing and flossing, you must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. You also should avoid chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils and fingernails. And, chewing ice is off limits. It’s not a good idea to chew ice even without braces!

Finally, make sure to see your family dentist for a professional cleaning and a check-up at least twice a year while wearing braces.

Oftentimes, orthodontic patients get concerned about their ceramic brackets stained from foods, particularly curry. The truth is that the brackets are still white, but, in most cases, the elastic ligatures have become stained. The ligatures are those little rubber bands on each bracket that hold the arch wire in place. And those get changed by the orthodontist every 4-6 weeks. So the next time you have an adjustment, the stained ligatures will be replaced with fresh new ones and your braces will look white and perfect again.

But what if it will be weeks until your next braces adjustment? How can you get rid of stains from curry, mustard, coffee, tea, or smoking? Well, here’s the bad news: it’s very difficult. You can try brushing with whitening toothpaste, but that has very limited results. The yellowish tinge will probably still be visible to some degree. If you have an important engagement and need your braces to look white again, you must visit your orthodontist and get your ligatures changed.