Braces take a long time to achieve their results, from six months to a year or more. That’s a lot of time for things to go wrong if you’re not taking proper care of them. Proper maintenance is required to ensure your braces and teeth remain healthy and achieve the desired results. Here are some guidelines for taking care of braces, although you should consult specific instructions if you have received:

This page is intended as a reference for people considering braces and a quick reference for people in braces. If you wear braces or have specific questions, refer to the instructions you were given at the time of your procedure. To talk to a dentist about getting braces in River Edge, please call 201-343-4044 or email for an appointment at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.

Foods to Avoid

Some foods can seriously damage your braces, may be difficult to clean out of teeth, and may encourage tooth decay while you are wearing braces.

In general, it’s best to cut down on between meal snacks. Cleaning your braces is a challenge, and the more time food stays trapped in your braces, the more it will feed cavity-causing bacteria.

Foods to Be Eaten with Care

Foods that can damage your braces should be avoided. This includes any type of food you have to bite down into while wearing braces, such as steak, pork chops, chicken or other meat on the bone or in a large piece. Cut meat into small pieces, removing it from the bone. Also avoid biting into hard rolls, crusty bread, or pizza crust that can potentially dislodge your brackets. Crunchy fruits and vegetables can also damage your braces, including carrots, apples, and celery. Cut these into small pieces for eating or cook until soft. Corn should be removed from the cob.

Foods to Be Completely Avoided

Some foods just cannot be eaten while you have braces. This includes sticky caramels, chews, and toffees, as these can get trapped in your braces and potentially dislodge the brackets. Chewing gum and popcorn can get trapped in the braces, making them very difficult to clean.

Cleaning Teeth and Braces

It’s important to work extra hard to clean your teeth while you’re wearing your braces. A more rigorous oral hygiene routine will help protect your teeth from decay, discoloration, and demineralization. Start by brushing each tooth surface individually. Clean the half that’s above the archwire, then clean the part that’s below the archwire. Clean between your teeth with an interdental brush or floss threaded carefully between the teeth. Make sure you are gentle and don’t hook the wire or brackets.

An interdental or proxa brush can be used to clean between the archwire and tooth. Make sure you get the area around the base of the brackets properly clean.

Problems and Complications

If you experience discomfort after a tightening, you can take over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). Do not exceed the recommended dosage, and let us know if your pain is so intense it doesn’t respond to medication, keeps you from sleeping, or persists for more than a week.

People often experience short-term irritation on cheeks from their brackets and wires. Orthodontic wax should take care of this. Rub a small amount of wax between your fingers until soft, then spread it over the irritating wires or brackets.

If a bracket comes loose or a wire brakes, we recommend you contact us to set up an appointment so we can repair or replace it.

Do you have other questions about the care and maintenance of your braces? Please call 201-343-4044 or email to speak to the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.