Benjamin C. Youel DDS, MS
David Hertzberg, DDS, MS

160 Commerce Drive,
Suite 101
Grayslake, IL 60030
Tel: 847-548-4330

Life with Braces

Life with Braces

Eating with Braces

The first few days with orthodontic appliances will be the most challenging, as teeth are often sore and appliances may feel cumbersome. In many cases it will be difficult to chew due to the upper and lower braces making contact with each other. All of this will improve over the first week of treatment as you get used to the appliances. It is very important not to eat anything hard, crunchy, sticky, or chewy. Braces and many appliances are held on by a very thin layer of glue, and special care is required not to break them off. Eating certain foods will break or cause damage to the appliances which will cause treatment time to be longer.

Foods to Avoid

  • Gum, Ice
  • Nuts, Corn Nuts, Combos, Popcorn
  • Gummy Bears, Fruit Rollups
  • Now N Laters, Starburst, Skittles, Taffy
  • Tootsie Rolls, Caramel
  • Hard Cookies, Hard Candies (Peppermints, Lifesavers)
  • Hard Pizza Crust, Hard Breads (Bagels, Hard Rolls)
  • Doritos, Fritos, Crunchy Cheetos, Pretzels
  • Beef Jerky, Slim Jims
  • Spareribs, Pork chops, Chicken are alright after cutting meat off of the bone
  • Corn on the Cob is alright after cutting corn off of the cob
  • Apples and Carrots: Cut into bite-sized pieces and use molars to chew
  • Pens, Pencils and Fingernails are low in calories, but high in destruction

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new – corrected – positions.

Loose Wire or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear, or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.


It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

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Brushing: Step 1

Using a dry brush with a small amount of toothpaste place bristles where gums and teeth meet.

Brushing: Step 2

For 10 seconds on each tooth use circular, vibrating motions around the gum lines.

Brushing: Step 3

Every tooth of both arches should be brushed slowly.

Brushing: Step 4

Brush the lower teeth from gum line up and the upper teeth from the gum line down. Brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue too!

Flossing: Step 1

Carefully thread unwaxed floss between braces and wire. You may find a floss threader helpful.

Flossing: Step 2

Carefully floss around the braces.

Flossing: Step 3

Carefully floss around the gum areas.

Flossing: Step 4

Carefully floss around each tooth.


If you play sports, it's important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened, call your general dentist immediately. If the appliances are damaged call the office to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.

Oral Care Video

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