Health According to Humana, more than 4 million people in the United States wear braces. They are a proven way to achieve that perfect smile you’re looking for, and they work well on adults and children alike. However, braces need special care in order to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Watch What You Eat One of the first things you will learn at your Southlake orthodontics office visit is that there are certain foods you shouldn’t eat while wearing braces. Hard or chewy foods can damage your braces or even pop your brackets off your teeth. Chewy foods can also get stuck in your braces, making it difficult to keep your teeth clean. Some foods to avoid include the following: •Gum •Chewy candy (Starbursts, Twizzlers, Skittles, etc.) •Caramel •Nuts •Pretzels Cut Your Food You should also avoid foods you have to sink your teeth into, such as apples or corn on the cob. This also goes for foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. Like hard foods, these can put too much pressure on your braces. Instead, cut your food into bite-sized pieces so you can chew it with your stronger back teeth. Stop Chewing Your Nails Chewing on hard objects such as your pencils or fingernails can also damage your braces. Unfortunately, this is a habit that is ingrained in some people and can be difficult to break. Ask a friend or family member to remind you if they see you starting to slip back into old habits. You could also try sucking on sugar-free hard candies to give your mouth something else to do--as long as they aren’t too sticky. Brush Thoroughly Brushing your whole mouth thoroughly is especially important when you have braces. Although braces can’t develop cavities like your teeth can, they are still able to harbor bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the rest of your mouth and cause cavities, gum disease, and other problems. Not only can these conditions be painful, they can keep your mouth from healing, making your teeth less responsive to your braces. When you have braces, it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day. To keep them as clean as possible, brush them after every meal. Floss More Effectively Flossing is an important part of keeping your mouth clean, cutting down on the amount of bacteria that's able to hide between your teeth. However, it becomes extremely difficult when wearing braces. One effective way of flossing is to use a Waterpik. This uses a stream of water to floss, so you can easily clean between your teeth, even when you’re wearing braces. It’s also good at getting hard-to-reach spots at the back of your mouth and below your gum line. Plenty of Water Drinking water throughout the day is important for many reasons, but it’s one way to keep your braces in good shape. Drinking water helps loosen food particles stuck in the braces and washes away bacteria and plaque that have started to form. This keeps your braces clean and your mouth as healthy as possible. Protect Your Mouth Do your best to avoid impacts to your face while wearing braces. Not only is it painful, the impact may damage your braces. Be cautious in everyday situations that might result in injury. Anyone involved in sports should wear appropriate mouth protection, especially if you play a contact sport. Keep in mind that most over-the-counter mouth guards do not work well with braces. Ask your southlake orthodontics office if they can provide you with a mouth guard that is designed to fit over your braces. Get the smile you've always wanted with help from Dr. Tom Czarnecki DMDMS http://www.tomczarnecki.com/. Our southlake orthodontics practice offers a variety of dental services and options for patients of all ages.