Braces and Retainers

By Mayo Clinic Staff

What to expect with braces

  • Your friends who have had braces will be a good source of information and support.
  • Your orthodontist and his or her staff will also be an excellent source of information.
  • Your care will be coordinated between your family dentist and orthodontist. This is of paramount importance.
  • You will receive special instruction on how to clean your teeth.
  • Your braces or appliances will have to be adjusted approximately every 4-6 weeks.
  • You may experience mild soreness or pressure during the first few weeks in braces and for a few days after adjustments at subsequent office visits.
  • Initially, your cheeks, lips, and even tongue can get sore from the irritation of having the braces on. Usually this is gone after the first few days.
  • Your time in braces may be from 6-36 months depending on the complexity of treatment.

Troubleshooting braces

If a wire is causing irritation, try pushing the wire away from the area being irritated using the eraser end of a pencil, or the end of a spoon. If the wire cannot be tucked in, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax.

If your teeth are sore after a regular visit at your orthodontist, he/she may suggest mild pain medications. Rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water can also be soothing.

If food becomes stuck between your teeth, use dental floss or a proxy brush to dislodge the food.

If a piece of your appliance breaks, save the piece and call your orthodontist to schedule a repair visit.

If a retainer cracks, immediately call for an appointment and bring it to your orthodontist for a professional repair.