Patient questions

Missing Ligature

Tiny rubber bands or small fine wires known as ligatures hold the wire or bracket. You may be able to replace it in position around the bracket, if not, simply remove it. If a wire ligature is sticking out either push it back down or use your wax to "buffer" the area.

Food caught between teeth

With braces, food can often times get caught between your teeth.

The best way to resolve this is with flossing.

With braces, we recommend using a floss threader is very helpful to get floss under the archwire.

Protruding wire

OOccasionally a wire in the braces will work itself out of place causing it to protrude. When this happens, cover the wire with wax if it causes irritation. If you’re able to you can simply cut the extra wire.

Sore spots

Some patients may have episodes of mouth sores that come from irritation of the braces. One or several areas may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be relieved by applying a small amount of wax to the braces in that area.

The wax is included in your braces kit.

Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball and place it over the area where the braces are causing irritation.

Loose brackets, wires or bands

When living with braces it’s important to watch what you eat, as anything hard or crunchy can knock off a bracket. If you play sports, use your mouth guard. It is usually not an emergency when a bracket comes loose. Please contact our office and we can make arrangements to fix it when it is convenient.


It is normal to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted, which can make eating uncomfortable. Discomfort is both normal and temporary. Soft foods are a good solution for a day or two. You can also take non-prescription pain relievers such as you would take for a headache. Ibuprofen has been shown to work the best, but always check with your physician prior to taking medications you are unsure about.

Proper brushing with toothbrush

You should first brush your teeth in small circular motions over your braces brackets’, being sure to tip your brush on the top and bottom as illustrated to clean around the braces and behind the wire.

Flossing with braces

Flossing with braces should be done once a day. A floss threader is needed to get the floss under the archwire.

Decay and decalcification on your teeth

Decalcification is a problem that can occur with poor oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment. Without good oral hygiene food and plaque can be trapped in and around your braces. This bacteria plaque reacts with the sugars and starches in food and forms an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, permanently marking your teeth.

If you allow plaque to accumulate around your braces, it can leave permanent marks on your teeth when your braces are removed. This can cause damage called decalcification. These lines and spots will remain on your teeth for life.

Teeth with decalcification scars do not look as nice as healthy teeth. It is difficult and expensive to have your dentist restore decalcified teeth so they look nice again.


Your retainers are holding your teeth in place while the bone re-forms around the roots. The bone is not as dense as it normally is because we have been moving your teeth. It is very important for you to wear your retainers full time while your teeth are stabilizing.

Schedule for retainer wear

For the first 3 months wear upper retainer full time.

Thereafter wear nightly to maintain proper alignment.

The lower retainer is permanant.

Studies show that the factors causing an improper bite persist throughout your life. The retainers will maintain proper tooth alignment and you should experience little change if you follow this schedule.

If at any time the retainers feel tight after they have been out of your mouth for a period of time, increase the wearing time.

Care of retainers

1. Your retainer is plastic so treat it carefully. Do not leave your retainer in the sun or near anything hot. Do not wash it in hot water as it may melt or warp.

2. Brush your retainer twice a day with your toothbrush and a mild dishwashing liquid and COLD water. DO NOT use toothpaste for it is too abrasive for the retainers.

3. Once a week, soak your retainer in cold water and one tablespoon of baking soda, or Efferdent. This will help eliminate odor.

4. Keep your retainer in your mouth or in your retainer case. Do not wrap it in a napkin, put it in your pocket, or leave it anywhere that your pets can get it.

5. If at anytime your retainer is broken, lost or does not fit, please call our office as soon as possible for an appointment.