There are a number of reasons why someone might need braces on their teeth, despite the stigma that once came with having them. From crooked, gapped or crowded teeth, to overbites and underbites, the idea is to wear them for as long as is necessary to fix the condition and not a moment longer. As expensive and inconvenient as these devices can be, the best way to avoid wearing them any longer or having to get them repaired is to take proper care of them from the start. This can be accomplished with a few good oral hygiene habits and a touch of common sense.
1.) Brush carefully
If you ever took brushing for granted in the past, you'll need to develop some more consistent and meticulous brushing habits. Brushing after every single meal is one of the best ways to avoid trapping food particles and bacteria that might cause cavities. It might hurt a bit at first to brush, but this should go away after the first week. Keep in mind that there are special toothbrushes designed specifically for this purpose, allowing you to get into those hard-to-reach places.
2.) Floss regularly
Although flossing might seem incredibly difficult with braces, it's actually more important than ever before, since there are that many more places where food can get caught. Ask your dentist or orthodontist about flossing techniques to help you get behind the main arch wire and up to the gum area. There are also special flossers available to make this easier.
3.) Stay away from certain foods
Your orthodontist will give you a list of foods to stay away from that you should pay special attention to. This is likely to include hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. Hard foods like nuts and hard candies can actually damage the wires and most of the others on the list can get easily stuck in places that are hard to reach. In addition, it is often recommended that you stick to soft foods for the first few days, avoiding tough meats, raw vegetables and hard bread.
4.) Wear a mouthguard when necessary
This applies primarily to athletes who participate in contact sports where there might be a chance of getting hit in the mouth. Wrestling, martial arts and football are a few examples of activities where there's a greater chance of either damaging your orthodontics, or possibly even causing injury to the soft tissues of the mouth.
5.) Don't miss any dental appointments
Your orthodontist will expect to see you regularly, to check your progress. Treatment time varies from one patient to another and these follow-up appointments are necessary to make any adjustments and further recommendations, based on how well your particular treatment is progressing. If there is any damage to your braces, this is the time to get it fixed. Most orthodontists will take care of any normal or common repairs, but don't expect them to cover damage due to neglect or missing appointments. Remember not to miss any non-orthodontic dental appointments, either.
The length of time you have to wear your braces can range from a few months to a couple years, or more. Until it's time for them to come off, it's important that you take better care of your teeth than you ever have in the past and treat your orthodontics with the very same care, as though they were a part of your own mouth. Think of them as an investment not only in financial terms, but also in terms of what they will do for your appearance in the years to come.