Every medical procedure carries some risk of complications, and braces are no exception. Following your Melbourne orthodontist’s instructions is crucial to navigating potential challenges, especially during the initial adjustment period. Here are common challenges with new braces and tips to overcome them:
1. Decalcification and Cavities
Research has shown that about half of all braces patients experience decalcification of their enamel. Decalcification produces white spots on the teeth and weakens the enamel. The weaker enamel provides a foothold for cavitation, or the development of cavities, to set in. The decalcification process can start in just four weeks, which is the amount of time between orthodontic follow-ups.
The best way to avoid decalcification and cavities is by following Dr. Reddick’s instructions on oral hygiene to the letter. Brush after every meal with fluoride toothpaste, which helps to remineralize the teeth. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash also helps. Flossing between all the teeth helps to prevent plaque buildup, which ultimately leads to cavities.
2. Discomfort or Tenderness in the Teeth
Braces are constantly applying pressure to shift the patient’s teeth into the desired position. This process is not painful, but you will feel that pressure, and it can cause some discomfort, especially in the first week or two. The teeth might also feel more sensitive during this time. The discomfort can also come back for a day or two after each time that you come in for an appointment to have the braces adjusted.
Over-the-counter pain medication can help with the discomfort. Patients should only eat soft food for at least the first three days after their braces are first installed.
3. Irritation inside the Cheeks
The brackets on a new set of braces are going to rub against the insides of the cheeks and lips. This will cause some irritation and discomfort until eventually, the patient develops calluses. In the meantime, apply dental wax to any areas where it feels like the brackets are chafing against the inside of the mouth.
4. Food Stuck in the Braces
Food that gets stuck in the braces doesn’t just increase the risk of cavities. It can also cause discomfort or even pain. Even brushing and flossing on a regular schedule can sometimes miss a piece of food that is stuck in a hard-to-reach place. You might have to use a Waterpik or a specialized toothbrush to help.
One of the best ways to avoid food getting stuck in your braces is to follow the dietary guidelines that your orthodontist gives you. Certain foods should be avoided, such as hard candy, caramel, popcorn, pizza crusts, and sticky foods. Avoid biting crunchy foods like an apple or a celery stick; instead, cut these fruits or vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks is also important for preventing cavities, so be sure to brush and floss afterward if you indulge in these.
5. Loose Archwire
If a wire on your braces comes loose, it can poke at the inside of your cheek and cause some discomfort. You might be able to push the wire with something like a pencil eraser until it’s no longer poking you. If that fails, use the dental wax to cover it up. If the wire comes loose, you will need to call your Melbourne orthodontist for an appointment as soon as you can. It’s usually a simple matter to repair it.
6. Chapped Lips
After you or your child receives braces, you might rest and sleep with your lips in different positions than normal. This can lead to chapped lips. It’s a simple matter of staying hydrated and using some lip balm to prevent this.
Contact a Melbourne Orthodontist about Braces
You might be considering braces for yourself or a child. We’d love to meet you and start the process and help along the way with any common challenges with new braces. Contact us at Reddick Orthodontics in Melbourne to schedule an appointment. After an exam, we’ll determine whether you are a good candidate for braces, Invisalign, or another orthodontic treatment to correct your smile.