See how you can care for your braces while still enjoying your favorite foods and activities.
Congratulations! You’re on your way to a healthier, more beautiful smile. No matter how long your treatment lasts, the time you'll spend wearing braces is short compared to a lifetime with your new, beautifully straight smile. And there’s more good news: your lifestyle won’t change much on the way to your perfect smile. You can still eat out, play sports or musical instruments, and have your picture taken. Just make sure to care for your braces properly!
So how do you take care of your smile during and after braces? We’ve compiled some tips below to help you get started, and so you know what to expect. Always ask your orthodontist for detailed instructions.
For FAQs or more information about orthodontic treatment, check out our Getting Started with Braces page.
Having brackets and wires in your mouth will feel strange at first, but you'll get used to them in just a couple weeks.
No matter what kind of braces you choose, it will feel a little strange when they are first attached. Your teeth might feel larger because of the brackets, and your mouth may feel sensitive as it gets used to the braces. Your orthodontist will give you soft wax to use if any brackets are rubbing against your cheeks, lips or tongue. If a wire is poking you, don’t hesitate to call your orthodontist – they can cut it shorter.
Almost everyone experiences some tenderness when their teeth move, particularly in the first days after you get your braces and after each adjustment. It takes most people 1 or 2 weeks to adjust to having braces. In the meantime, eat soft foods and ask your orthodontist about how best to relieve any discomfort. If you need a morale boost, start picturing the end result: a beautifully straight and healthy smile!
If you get behind-the-teeth hidden braces like the 3M™ Incognito™ Appliance System, you may feel that your voice sounds funny at first. If it seems you’re speaking with a lisp, try slowing down your speech until you get used to your new braces.
To help speed up your adjustment period, speech pathologists have developed a special exercise called the Rainbow Passage. It’s a short paragraph that contains many of the sounds found in the English language. Practice reading it aloud until you’re comfortable speaking with your new braces. Even if you have traditional metal or clear ceramic braces, you may find it helpful. Check it out!
Read the Rainbow Passage
You may be surprised at how little your lifestyle changes with braces.
You can still eat many of your favorite foods, but you’ll want to be a little more careful. Your braces are designed to be durable, but certain foods can damage a bracket or wire. Choose softer foods that you can cut or tear. Avoid sticky, hard or crunchy foods like bubble gum and hard candy.
Remember, your teeth may be tender right after you first get your braces and after they are adjusted. For your appointment days, stock up on soup, pasta or other gentle foods that don’t require much chewing.
You can stay active, exercise and play sports while wearing braces. Ask your orthodontist if you should wear a mouth guard or lip protector. Depending on the sport, it may be a good idea to wear one of these protective devices – so the braces don’t cut the inside of your mouth.
Whether you’re in the choir or just enjoy singing along to the radio, you can still sing with your braces on. If you feel like you’re speaking with a lisp when you first get braces, try practicing the Rainbow Passage until you get comfortable.
If you play a wind or brass instrument, you may be wondering if braces will get in the way. Good news: you can still play your instrument! Ask your orthodontist whether you should use a special mouth guard or lip protector. You may be able to get a custom lip guard through your orthodontist's office.
Good oral hygiene is extremely important when you’re wearing braces. Think of it this way: you are investing both time and money in a beautiful new smile. It’s worth the extra effort to take care of it properly.
Brushing with braces isn’t hard – but it is important. Make sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for brushing your teeth several times each day. Use a “tree brush” to check behind your archwire for any remaining food. An electric toothbrush can make it easy to remove plaque in tiny, hard-to-reach spots – precisely like the areas around your braces. There are many kinds of power brushes, though, so ask your orthodontist for a recommendation.
Your orthodontist will show you how to floss with braces. It may take a little longer than normal, but it’s easy enough once you have the hang of it. And it’s an important part of keeping your teeth clean. Many people wearing braces use a water flosser in addition to regular floss to make sure they’ve removed any food from in between teeth and around brackets.
Once your braces are removed, it's easy to take care of your new smile.
The waiting is over: start enjoying your new smile! Believe it or not, your teeth may actually feel strange after your braces are removed. By “strange,” we mean smaller, smoother, straighter – in other words, camera-ready! Life after braces is all about caring for and showing off your new smile. Trust us: you’ll make this adjustment in no time.
Your teeth may feel sensitive for the first few days as they get used to standing on their own, but this won’t last long. As always, it’s very important to keep brushing and flossing regularly. Ask your orthodontist about any other instructions you should follow after your treatment.
Retainers help make sure your teeth “remember” their new positions. Some retainers are removable, clear plastic trays for the top or bottom teeth. Others are permanently attached to the back of your teeth, out of sight, meant to be worn for a couple years. It’s important to wear your retainer as instructed. You’ve already invested a lot of time in your new smile – this extra effort will be worth it to make sure your teeth stay beautifully straight!