first month of orthodontic treatment | tips for orthodontic treatment

8 Tips for a Smooth First Month of Orthodontic Treatment

Congratulations! You got your braces or Invisalign today and soon will have the great smile you’ve always wanted! But, now what? Your orthodontist went over some self-care instructions before you left their office but you are still worried about what to expect during the next month or so. Will it be hard to adjust to the braces? These are very normal questions and don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

You will indeed experience some discomfort once your orthodontic treatment is started. You now have metal wires, brackets, and bands (or aligners) in your mouth and it all feels very strange. The soft tissue around your teeth, gums, and cheeks is coming into contact with the appliances, so there is going to be some irritation and soreness until this tissue toughens a bit. Your orthodontist is always available to help you through this, but there are things you can do, too.

In this article, we will discuss eight things to keep in mind during your first month of orthodontic treatment as you get used to the braces or aligners. By following these tips for orthodontic treatment, you will adjust quickly, especially knowing that it will all be worth it at the end of your treatment plan!

8 Tips for the First Month of Orthodontic Treatment

Being prepared is the best tactic with anything new, and the first month of wearing braces or aligners is no different. If you know what to expect, you can head off any serious problems before they happen. 

Here are eight tips for managing your first month in braces:

#1 – Be Prepared Before Leaving the Orthodontist’s Office

Have you asked all your questions about your new braces? Make sure you do before you leave. For example:

  • What can I expect at each appointment?
  • What do I do with the ends of wires that poke inside my mouth?
  • What foods can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat?
  • What do I do if I have a lot of pain?
  • What if I swallow some of the braces wax?
  • How do I brush around the braces?

Make sure you know who to speak with when you call the orthodontist’s office if you have a problem or question after you leave.

#2 – Expect Your Mouth to Be Sore

Your tongue, cheeks, and gums have a lot to get used to during the first month. You will experience some degree of discomfort, from soreness to slight sharp pain, as your mouth adjusts to the braces or aligners

Just knowing this ahead of time can be very helpful. Any discomfort will come and go, depending on your eating habits, as well as brushing and flossing. It’s normal and everyone experiences it during orthodontic treatment.

#3 – Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers to Control Discomfort

Use the same pain relief medicine you take for headaches or muscle pain. Take it before every appointment with your orthodontist and then whenever your mouth hurts. It will control the inflammation and pain from this extra pressure on your teeth or jaw. You can take this over-the-counter medicine as needed for up to a week. 

You can also add a salt water rinse, too. Just mix a tablespoon of salt with a cup of warm water and swish thoroughly in your mouth. Make sure not to swallow the saltwater. If you experience any severe pain or if it lasts longer than a week, call your orthodontist right away.

 #4 – Drink Lots of Water

As you adjust to your new orthodontic appliances, you may experience symptoms like dry mouth, dry/cracked lips, trouble swallowing, increased thirst, thick and stringy saliva, soreness in the mouth, and cracks and cuts at the corners of your mouth. Staying hydrated will significantly help with these things.

Always have a large food-grade stainless steel water bottle with you. Monitor your water intake by drinking two bottles a day. You will stay hydrated and have water to rinse your mouth out after you eat.

#5 – Braces Wax Will Be a New Best Friend

This is a pliable wax that acts as a barrier between the braces and an irritated area inside your mouth. Dry off the sore area in your mouth, then roll a small bit of wax in your fingers until it softens. Stick it on the wire or bracket that is the source of the irritation. Replace it as needed. 

#6 – Build a To-Go Care Kit and Carry it With You

Create your own care kit and have it with you all the time. You can take care of minor issues before you get home. Some things to put in the kit include: 

  • A travel toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Floss, floss threaders, or orthodontic flossers
  • A small mirror
  • Fluoride mouthwash
  • Braces wax
  • OTC pain reliever
  • Interdental brushes

Don’t be caught off guard when you have a problem away from home. Your kit will save you time and money because you can take care of small issues right away.

#7 – Use an Orthodontic Mouthguard

Play sports? Make sure to get a custom orthodontic mouthguard from your orthodontist. This will sufficiently protect your teeth (and braces) from a blow to the face whenever you participate in any physical activity. 

An orthodontic mouthguard is built to absorb the force of an impact on the face and saves your braces as well as your lips, gums, mouth, and teeth. If you are using clear aligners for your orthodontic treatment, you’ll still need to get a mouthguard for sports. The clear aligners you wear every day are not thick enough to sufficiently protect your teeth from a blow to the face.

#8 – Eat and Drink to Succeed

Stick with the list of food and drink items your orthodontist probably shared with you. Soft foods, as well as cold foods and drinks, are kind to your teeth and any tender areas in your mouth. (Don’t chew ice, though!)

Pasta, yogurt, smoothies, applesauce, soup, ripe bananas, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, milkshakes, smoothies, soft fruits, and protein shakes are your best choices. Look for other things that don’t need much chewing, especially during the first month.

Don’t take chances with sticky, chewy, and hard foods. Save those for later when the braces come off. There is too much chance of damaging the braces when you eat foods on the “Do not eat!” list. 

Help Make Your First Month of Treatment as Smooth as Possible

Braces and clear aligners take up space in your mouth, so your first month will be one of adjustment. Your teeth, lips, tongue, and cheeks must adapt to the wires, brackets, and bands or edges of the aligners. Plus, with braces, you will need to learn how to brush and floss around them. Some areas will be tender or painful and will need to be protected with braces wax. 

It can seem like a lot to deal with at first. Don’t give up! By following our tips above, you’ll be much better prepared to help make your first month of orthodontic treatment as easy as possible.

Remember your goal and picture those straight teeth that you will have once the braces come off. It will all get easier after the first month is over, especially with our team here at Ashby Orthodontics on your side. If you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!