Caring for Braces

Now that you have braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to get used to your braces and take care of them throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.

Eating with Braces

The first thing most patients want to know is: what can I eat? While there are certain kinds of food everyone in braces should avoid, there are plenty of foods you can enjoy while wearing braces.

Foods to Avoid:

  • EXTREMELY HARD foods, such as ice and hard candy
  • EXTREMELY STICKY foods, like toffee, caramels, and taffy
  • Gum that is hard or sticks to braces, like gumballs
  • Popcorn, which makes it very difficult to clean your braces
  • Foods that require biting into, such as corn on the cob, apples, and carrots UNLESS they are sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • AND foreign objects, like pencils and finger nails

Foods you CAN eat:

  • Yogurt, pudding, soft cheese, milk-based drinks
  • Sandwich bread, pancakes, soft tortillas
  • Rice, pasta
  • Lunch meats, soft-cooked chicken, meatballs
  • Tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Beans, mashed potatoes
  • Bananas, applesauce, cooked fruit (apples)
  • Milkshakes, Jell-O, ice cream, soft cake

Remember that an important part of caring for your braces is brushing your teeth regularly. For more information, read up on the importance of regularly brushing as presented by the American Association of Orthodontists.

Soreness Caused by Braces

After getting your braces or a new appliance, it is not uncommon for the lips, cheeks and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to them. After an adjustment appointment, teeth may be sore for the first 3 days. This is when the most movement occurs. To relieve the pain, we recommend pain reliever, rinsing with salt water, and eating softer foods. We provide wax at the front desk if you need it to put over the braces to lessen the tenderness.

Loose Teeth, Wires and Bands

You may notice your teeth are becoming loose. Don’t worry! This is common. In order for teeth to move they must first loosen. Your teeth will soon become fixed in their new positions.

It is good to know the names of the braces components in case you need to call our office with a question. We will be better able to help you. Please note that in our office we commonly refer to ligatures as “cheerios” because of their shape. For more terms, see our Glossary page in the Resources tab.


*Image provided by the American Association of Orthodontists

If a wire or band comes loose, don’t be alarmed. This happens sometimes. If a protruding wire is causing discomfort, use the eraser end of a pencil or the back of a spoon to carefully push it under the archwire. Placing wet cotton or wax on a wire can also alleviate discomfort. Contact our office as soon as possible so we can schedule a repair appointment. If a piece of your appliance comes off, save it and bring it to the office.

Caring for Appliances and Retainers


Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by Dr. Speck. For information on types of appliances, visit the Appliances page under the Treatment tab on the Home page.


Most people lose or damage their retainer by:

  • Wrapping it in a napkin and accidentally throwing it away.
  • Leaving it out of the retainer case and the dog chews it.
  • Putting it in a pocket or bag and breaking it.

If you take out your retainer to eat, brush or floss, remember this is the perfect time to brush and clean your retainer! Keep it clean by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste under warm (not hot) water. You may also clean it in denture cleaner twice a week. DO NOT USE BOILING WATER OR THE DISHWASHER! It will warp the retainer. If your retainer ends up somewhere that requires more cleaning, bring it to our office so we can sterilize it for you.

Don’t be tempted to flip your retainer with your tongue. This habit can distort the retainer and it will no longer fit or work properly.


Parent/Patient Cooperation

Patient cooperation is a big part of successful orthodontic treatment. Please be sure to wear your appliance as prescribed, including your rubber bands, headgear, retainer or other appliance, If your braces break, this will only prolong your treatment time and may result in additional costs. You are always welcome to speak directly to Dr. Speck at your appointment to discuss your progress.

Playing Sports with Braces


If you do play sports, it is recommended, and at most schools required, that you wear a mouth guard in order to protect your teeth and appliances. We are an authorized distributor of Shock Doctor® mouth guards! We sell mouth guards for Double Braces since most of our patients will have braces on both arches. Do not boil these mouth guards, as they will warp and no longer fit properly. We recommend using mouthwash to clean them.


If you are injured while playing sports, it is important to check your mouth and braces/appliances for any damages. If you find you have loose teeth or damage to the braces/appliance, call our office as soon as possible. If you are experiencing pain, you can temporarily relieve it by rinsing with saltwater and applying wax.

*Images courtesy of the Shock Doctor® website.

“Moms for Mouth Guards”

*Video courtesy of The American Association of Orthodontists.

This is what happens when patients don’t wear a mouth guard while playing sports:


Speck Orthodontics

  • Speck Orthodontics - 5335 Edloe Street, Houston, TX 77005 Phone: 713-668-6878 Fax: 713-668-0702

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