Life With Braces

We’re here to help you transition into your new life with braces! You’ll have to make some minor lifestyle adjustments to accommodate your treatment, but these will become your new normal before long.

Dr. Senties and our exceptional orthodontic team will tell you everything you need to know about your new life with braces! In the meantime, take a look at these braces FAQs. We encourage you to reference these at any time before, during or after your treatment.

If you have any unanswered questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at our San Antonio location.

We think you’ll be relieved to know that braces don’t hurt! When we place your braces on, we are simply bonding brackets to your teeth, and attaching your archwires to your brackets. This won’t cause you any pain. 

The first week you have braces, you may experience some minor soreness. This is because your teeth and gums aren’t used to the support of your braces yet. You can take some Tylenol® or another over-the-counter pain reliever to counteract the soreness.

Throughout your treatment, you’ll visit our office every 4 to 10 weeks (depending on your custom treatment plan) so we can monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. During these appointments, we may ‘tighten’ your archwires, replace the elastics around your brackets, or reposition a bracket. It’s normal to experience some minor soreness after your adjustment appointments, but this should go away within a few days. Over the counter medications will help after these appointments too!

This will depend on a few factors: your goals and the results you want from treatment, your overall oral health,  your orthodontic condition, the severity of your case, and your diligence in following directions and wearing your appliances (like rubber bands). 

On average, treatment with traditional braces and ceramic braces can take anywhere from 6 to 36 months. Treatment with Invisalign® on average takes approximately the same amount of time although in some cases it can take a few months longer. 

Once Dr. Senties completes your complimentary (free) exam, we’ll have an estimate of how long your treatment period will be. The length of your treatment may change, depending on how quickly your teeth are shifting and whether you wear your appliances as instructed.

Yes, your orthodontic treatment won’t stop you from living your life the way you want to! No matter which type of braces you choose (and even if you didn’t have braces at all), it’s incredibly important that you wear a mouthguard while playing sports. A mouthguard will protect your cheeks, gums, teeth and other players from damage.

You can eat tons of delicious meals with braces! During the first week of your treatment, as your teeth and gums are adjusting, you may want to choose softer foods, like pasta, tuna, mashed potatoes, or soup. Knowing what to eat your first week with braces takes some of your own discretion. You can integrate harder foods into your diet as soon as you’re feeling up to it!

Here’s a list of foods you can eat with braces:

  • Dairy — cream cheese, pudding, milk
  • Breads — tortillas, pancakes, muffins, 
  • Grains — pasta, rice, cereal
  • Meats — soft chicken, soft meatballs, lunch meats
  • Vegetables — cooked carrots, peas, beans
  • Fruits — bananas, kiwis, strawberries, grapes
  • Treats — ice cream (no nuts), milkshakes, Jell-O, frozen yogurt

As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid foods that are considerably chewy, sticky, crunchy, or hard. These food items are infamous for damaging brackets and wires and breaking orthodontic appliances.

Chewy, sticky foods can stick to your wires and pull them out of place. Hard foods can pop your wires out of place or break a bracket. Next thing you know, you’re visiting us for an emergency orthodontist appointment! As much as we’d love to see you, we want to keep your treatment on track. 

Here are some examples of foods to avoid when wearing braces:

  • Chewy foods — bagels, hard bread rolls, Twizzlers
  • Crunchy foods — popcorn, ice, dried fruits, Cheetos, Doritos
  • Sticky foods — caramel, gum, Laffy Taffy, Starburst
  • Hard foods — nuts, Jolly Ranchers, hard pizza crusts, Nerds
  • Foods that require biting — corn on the cob, apples, carrots

As weird as this sensation may be, this is normal! Your teeth and gums are adjusting to your braces. The whole point of your treatment is to shift your teeth into alignment, and with this shifting comes some minor tooth wiggling.

Toward the end of your treatment, once your teeth have shifted into the desired position and you enter the retention phase, your teeth will stabilize and stop wiggling. 

If any of your teeth are wiggling considerably and it concerns you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We want to calm your fears and ensure that you’re working toward the best possible results from your treatment.

Brushing and flossing around brackets and wires can be challenging if you aren’t sure how to get started. When you get your braces on, Dr. Senties and his team will show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth! 

Maintaining your oral hygiene is especially important during you or your child’s orthodontic treatment. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria can grow between your teeth and around your brackets and archwires, causing permanent stains, cavities, or gum disease. 

Here’s how to properly brush your teeth with braces: 

-Brush the outside and inside of your teeth, as well as the chewing surface and gumline. 

-Brush in small circles to reach between your archwires and around the corners of your brackets. 

-Make sure you’re brushing thoroughly, but gently enough to avoid damaging your braces. 

When flossing between your teeth, we recommend using a specialized flossing threader that allows you to insert the floss thread between your teeth and braces.

Specialized flossing threaders have a solid end that makes it easier to push the floss through the archwires.

We won’t know whether you require rubber bands until you visit us for your complimentary consultation. Some patients need rubber bands to align their bite, while other patients don’t. It all depends on your unique case!

Elastics, or rubber bands, are one of the most common appliances used during treatment with braces. Elastics are hooked around a bracket on the top teeth and a bracket on the bottom teeth to exert persistent (but gentle) force. Over time, this force aligns the teeth and jaw bones and treats malocclusions (poor bite conditions), like overbites, underbites, cross bites, and open bites.

Orthodontic wax is used in the case of minor orthodontic emergencies. If a wire pops loose, or a bracket is irritating your cheeks, orthodontic wax can be applied to the bracket or poking wire to provide temporary relief until you’re able to visit us.  

To apply orthodontic wax, you’ll wash your hands, then pinch off a small piece of wax. You’ll roll this piece into a ball, then apply it to the DRY wire or bracket. Squeeze the wax into place to make sure it doesn’t fall off, then run your tongue over the wax to feel for any looseness. If there is too much saliva upon placement, the wax will not stay attached well. Be sure to give us a call so we can get your braces fixed at your next appointment!

Have questions about life with braces?

We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you to know your options!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time. Dr. Senties and our experienced team are here to help guide you throughout your treatment process, from your first visit to your last visit.

Ready to begin your smile transformation process? Let’s get started with your complimentary exam at our convenient San Antonio location!