Life with Orthodontics

Taking care of appliances and your teeth is an important part of orthodontic treatment. This will ensure that your treatment proceeds smoothly, your teeth stay healthy, and you finish on time!

Foods to Avoid with Braces

Certain foods or types of food should be avoided during treatment to avoid breaking, loosening, or shifting the brackets and wires. These include:

  • Hard Foods – Ice cubes, popcorn, bagels, chips, jerky, corn-on-the-cob

  • Sticky Foods – Taffy, gummies, chewing gum (even sugarless), caramel        

  • Sugary Foods and Drinks – Jolly Ranchers, breath mints, lollypops, soda, sports drinks (worse than soda!)        

  • Bone-in meat – Chicken wings and legs, ribs

 **FORK RULE - This is an easy way to know if you can bite directly into a specific food while wearing braces.  If you cannot cut it easily with the side of a fork, the food should first be cut, torn, or broken into small pieces before eating.  You should NEVER use your teeth with braces to break food into smaller pieces!

Foods to Avoid with Aligners

One of the benefits of having removable aligners is you can eat anything since you take them out for meals. You must brush before you put them back in! Please reduce sticky and sugary food regardless of what kind of appliance you have. 


We recommend using an electric toothbrush 2-3 times a day after meals. Flossing is also essential but a water flosser or Waterpik can be used as well. If plaque is allowed to build up, permanent discoloration and cavities will form. Remember that cavities begin just after 20 minutes of eating something sugary, whether you have orthodontic appliances or not!  

**Please continue to see your dentist at least every 6 months for cleanings and checkups while you are in orthodontic treatment!

What Can Be Done to Ease Soreness?

When you get new appliances, it can take several days to get used to them. During this time, your mouth and teeth may feel tender or sore. Maximum discomfort is 24 hours later.

Wax or Silicone

Orthodontic relief wax or silicone is provided at your appointment and can be applied to braces as needed. If the soreness is being caused by rubbing against the cheek, lips or tongue, the wax will provide a smooth surface. Knead a pea-sized amount of wax or silicone, roll into a ball, and form it onto the part of the appliance that is causing irritation. Some people like silicone that swimmers use to block their ears, or Gishy Goo (available at Walmart and online).

Salt Water Rinses

Warm salt water is an excellent remedy for sore lips, gums and cheeks. The salt water mixture pulls excess fluid from inflamed tissue to reduce swelling. Add a teaspoon of salt to a half a cup of lukewarm water. Swish the water for one minute before spitting out.

Soft Foods

Eat soft foods that won’t put pressure on your sore teeth.  Anything cool like smoothies or frozen yogurt can help alleviate soreness.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

Please take Advil or Tylenol as needed.  Typically this is needed for only 1-2 days.