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Guide to caring for your smile with braces

By caring for your braces and teeth properly during orthodontic treatment, you are sure to have a healthy, bright, beautiful smile when braces come off!

braces on

Your first few days with braces

The materials used to secure and bond braces onto teeth take  approximately 48 hours to fully set and strengthen.  It is important to follow diet and care guidelines after you receive new braces.

Avoid Hot Foods & Drinks icon

Lukewarm or cold foods and drinks for 48 hours

Avoid Foods that Need Chewing icon

Maintain a soft diet for 48 hours


After getting braces bonded, most patients notice discomfort 12 to 24 hours after their appointment.  This is when teeth start to move.  Discomfort should subside within a week.  Over the counter pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol, can be used to help ease soreness (similar to what you would use for a headache).  You should follow your doctors recommendations and all labels.  Most orthodontists will equip you with orthodontic wax that can be placed over the braces if anything feels like it's irritating the inside of your mouth.

Tips for Life with Braces

Check your braces regularly

Check your braces daily for anything that might be loose or bent.  If a bracket or band comes loose or you break a wire, be sure to call your orthodontist so that they can arrange an appointment long enough to repair your braces.

Sore teeth

After braces are bonded to teeth, it is normal for teeth to be sore for 3 to 4 days.  Over the counter medications, such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol, should help relieve this common discomfort.  Irritation to cheeks and tongue is normal, but if you feel anything sharp is poking, or any sores are developing, be sure to contact your orthodontist.

Pokey wires

If the archwire has come out of the very back bracket, you can try to put it back into the tube by directing it with tweezers. If the wire just seems to be long, try placing some of the orthodontic wax on it.  If this does not help relieve discomfort, call your orthodontist office so that they can see you for a wire clip.

If a smaller wire tie is poking you, you can push the end of the wire tie toward your teeth with either your finger, Q-tip or pencil eraser.  This will move the wire away from your lip or cheek.  You can also put braces wax over the wire as well.


Elastics (rubber bands) are commonly used to help correct a misaligned bite, to help move teeth or close space, and to fine tune your smile.  In order for them to work and the force to remain constant, elastics must be worn full time or as prescribed by your doctor.  They are typically changed 2 to 3 times per day.  Any missed time wearing elastics can make your orthodontic treatment take longer. 

  • Wear your rubber bands as instructed by your orthodontist.

  • Always carry extra elastics with you, so that if one breaks you can replace it right away.  Call your orthodontist if you run out so that they can provide additional supply.

  • If you forget to wear your elastics one day, do NOT double up the next day.  Simply return to a good routine of wearing them properly.

  • Elastics become worn out.  When they lose their elasticity, they don't provide the proper pressure on the teeth or bite.  It is important to change them to fresh ones as instructed, even when they are not broken.

brushing with braces

Brushing and flossing with braces

Brushing with braces

It is very important to keep your teeth and gums clean during treatment.  Plaque (bacteria) often sticks to teeth and braces, especially along the gumline and in between teeth.  Be sure to brush teeth regularly (2 to 3 times daily).  Focus on angling your toothbrush along the gums in addition to the top, side, and bottom of the brackets.


Flossing with braces

Flossing should be consistent during braces to remove plaque (bacteria) that gets stuck between teeth.  Floss threaders can assist with regular floss, to get underneath the archwire easier.  Waterflossers, such as the Waterpik®, are great tools to help wash out food and plaque from around braces and in between teeth. They are an effective, gentle alternative to traditional floss.

It is important to keep regular visits with your general or pediatric dentist during your orthodontic treatment to help ensure teeth stay healthy and cavity-free. 

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