phone | 248.360.5315
     1099 Union Lake Road, Suite B
    White Lake Township, MI 48386

Life With Braces

  • Eating
  • There are some foods that should be avoided while in braces. Other foods can be eaten carefully in order to protect your appliances. Damaging or dislodging your braces by eating hard or sticky foods will extend your treatment time!

    1. AVOID HARD FOODS like jawbreakers, fireballs, large ice cubes, large nuts, jolly ranchers, and jumbo hard pretzels.

    2. CUT UP/SLICE FOODS like apples, carrots, celery, ribs, corn-on-the-cob, and chicken wings.

    3. AVOID STICKY AND CHEWY FOODS like taffy, caramel, starbursts, beef jerky, tootsie rolls, licorice, & other sticky candy. If the candy is still stuck to the grooves in your teeth an hour after you ate it, it’s probably too sticky to eat with braces!

  • gum- only sugarless, only one stick at a time
  • popcorn- remnants of the kernel hulls can become lodged around the braces and gums. Be very careful to remove these pieces when brushing after eating popcorn. Try the hull-less popcorn in the snack aisle at the grocery store.

  • 5. DON’T CHEW pens, pencils, or fingernails.

    6. CUT DOWN ON SUGARY FOODS & DRINKS like candy, donuts, soda, pop, breath mints, tic tacs, cookies, fruit juice, etc. A diet high in sugar content can contribute to tooth decay. It is important to brush after drinking or eating sugary foods or drinks. If it is impossible to brush, at least rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Also consider the sugarless varieties of drinks and candies.

  • Brushing and Flossing
  • It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces. This ensures that the teeth and gums will be healthy after orthodontic treatment. We recommend that all orthodontic patients keep their regular six-month checkups with their family dentist. Since the orthodontist does not check for cavities, perform periodic cleanings or provide fluoride treatments, a general dentist must do these important maintenance procedures. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean will require more frequent visits to the dentist. Adults with a history of gum disease should keep their scheduled appointments with their periodontist during treatment.

    One of the most important things for an orthodontic patient to remember is that proper tooth brushing is an absolute requirement for successful treatment. Improper brushing can lead to disastrous consequences such as swollen and bleeding gums, recession of the gums, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, cavities, and permanent scarring of the tooth surface. Prolonged neglect of the teeth while in braces can lead to costly dental procedures such as fillings, root canals, and gum surgery.

    The cleanliness of your teeth will be evaluated at every appointment. If poor oral hygiene is noted at several consecutive appointments, Dr. Antkowiak reserves the right to temporarily remove the braces so that no further damage will be done to the teeth. This will cause the total treatment time to be extended, and a rebonding fee will be assessed if and when the braces are placed again.

    Dr. Antkowiak will teach you the proper way to brush teeth with braces on the day that your braces are placed. You will be given a starter kit containing special brushes and other items that will make it easier to keep everything clean. Please remember:

    1. Brushing and flossing with braces takes much longer than without braces.
    2. You should brush in the morning, after every meal, and before going to bed.
    3. Electric toothbrushes are helpful, but you still must brush carefully.

  • Separators
  • Your braces consist of several different kinds of metal devices attached to the teeth. Brackets are the rectangular stick-on attachments used on most of the front teeth. Bands are metal rings that completely encircle the tooth and are usually used on back teeth; bands are sturdier and can withstand normal chewing forces. Normally, your teeth fit snugly against each other. If we plan to fit a band on a tooth, we have to move the adjacent teeth slightly to create space for the band to be seated. This is done using tiny rubber bands called separators, or spacers.

    Separators are placed between contacting teeth approximately 7-10 days before you are scheduled to get your braces. Your separator appointment will take only 5- 10 minutes. Once each separator is in place, you may feel pressure or soreness between your teeth (like having food caught between your teeth after a meal). The amount of discomfort is variable but usually lasts 2-3 days; Tylenol or Advil will alleviate any pain you might experience.

    During the week your separators are in, please avoid sticky and chewy food (gum, caramels, taffy, licorice, etc.). Brush as normal, but do not floss where the spacers have been placed. If you lose a separator, please notify our office (unless other instructions were given).

  • Expanders
  • Expanding, or widening, the upper jaw is sometimes required as part of orthodontic treatment to improve the way that the teeth fit together. If jaw expansion is necessary, an appliance will be cemented to the upper teeth for 4-6 months. The expander is attached to several teeth and cannot be removed by the patient. Each expander has an expansion screw in the middle of the appliance that is activated daily using a special key. A parent or other adult will be instructed at the delivery appointment how and when to turn the key. Each time the key is turned, gentle pressure will be applied to both sides of the palate. Most patients say this makes their cheeks or nose tingle for a few minutes; it is not painful! Turning the key over several weeks produces a wider upper jaw.

    Most patients say that the worst part of having an expander is learning to talk after it has been cemented. Reading aloud or singing along with the radio can be very helpful. Most patients adjust after 2-3 days. Some patients also notice a need to “slurp” before swallowing because of an excess of saliva; this sensation also subsides after a few days.

    Dr. Antkowiak will show you how to clean around your expander the day it is cemented. However, please avoid sticky foods that might pull out the appliance. If the expander is loose, do not activate further; call the office as soon as possible to schedule a repair appointment.

    Since the expander widens the roof of the mouth, we expect a space to form between the upper front teeth. Do not worry; this space usually closes by itself after the activations are stopped. We often use this space to align the adjacent teeth.

  • Retainers
  • For the first 8-12 months after the removal of your braces, you should wear both retainers full time (20-22 hours per day). Remove retainers when eating, playing sports, and brushing/ flossing. ALWAYS put your retainers in their case if not in your mouth!

    Approximately one year after your braces are removed, you will decrease your retainer hours to nighttime (sleeping) only. Wearing retainers when sleeping is necessary indefinitely; you will be informed if and when changes to this schedule are permissible.

    Periodic retainer checks will be scheduled for approximately 30-36 months after the removal of your braces. Should adjustments be required after this period, additional charges may apply.

    Other important facts:

  • Call our office immediately if either or both retainers are lost, broken or bent. Prompt replacement or adjustment is important to insure stability and to avoid relapse.
  • If the retainer is not fitting well or if you notice changes in your bite or in your smile, call our office for an emergency appointment. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! We cannot be responsible for problems if we are not informed of them!
  • Retainers must be worn or brought to each appointment. This allows us to check the fit and to adjust, if necessary.
  • To avoid loss or damage, retainers must be stored in the appropriate case when not in your mouth.
  • Retainers will affect your speech at first. Reading or singing aloud will help you adjust quickly.
  • Please brush your retainers with toothpaste and a toothbrush every time you brush your teeth. Be gentle; do not distort plastic or bend wires. Do not use hot water! Efferdent or other denture cleaners may be used but should not take the place of brushing.
  • NEVER BOIL YOUR RETAINERS! Soak in Listerine for several hours if you have dropped the retainers and are concerned about germs.
  • Never leave your retainers on a hot car dashboard; never run your retainers through the washing machine.
  • Keep your retainers away from dogs and other animals!
  • Your third molars (wisdom teeth) should be monitored by your general dentist for eruption problems.
  • Replacement retainers are $150 each. This amount must be paid before the retainers are fabricated.
  • These rules are not difficult to follow. Your orthodontic treatment was a long, challenging commitment. Please do not let relapse occur through casual neglect! Your teeth will move back to their original positions if the retainers are not worn faithfully; if teeth shift because of lack of cooperation, you may be charged for new retainers or for retreatment (braces again)!

  • Emergency Info
  • True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur, we take care of them as soon as possible. As a general rule, you should call the office if you experience severe pain, if the braces are causing your lips or gums to bleed or if you have a painful appliance problem that you cannot take care of yourself. You may be surprised that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems yourself. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.

    The following solutions may help relieve discomfort:

    1. Poking Tiewire/ “Twistee”
    Using a clean pencil eraser, push the poking wire down. If this doesn’t work, cover the poking part of the wire with wax or chewing gum and call to schedule an emergency appointment.

    2. Loose Bracket or Band
    If a bracket is loose and is cutting your lips or gums or preventing you from eating, call the office for an emergency appointment. If the bracket is not bothering you, leave it on the wire (or remove it and bring it to your next appointment), cover with wax, and we will repair it at your next visit. Please call and alert us so that we may schedule extra time for the repair. If a band is loose, call for an emergency appointment to recement it; bands that are loose for long periods of time can result in extreme irritation of the gums and tooth decay under the band.

    3. General Soreness
    When you get your braces on, your teeth may be tender for three to five days. Many patients say it feels like “a headache in their teeth”. This can be relieved by taking Tylenol, Advil or whatever you normally take for a headache. The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also be irritated for several days as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the brackets and bands. We will show you how to use wax to lessen any discomfort.

    4. Loose / Poking Archwire
    Using tweezers, try to place your wire back into the slot. If this doesn’t work, use wax on the area and call for an emergency appointment. As a last resort, use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If you are wearing rubber bands, stop wearing them until the wire can be replaced.

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