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The decision of whether to get braces is never an easy one to make: braces are a big investment in time, energy, and of course money.

You definitely want to understand what happens when you get braces, what to expect with braces in the first few days, and everything else about adjusting to braces in general.

Like any investment, braces pay off in the long run. Yes, they require some minimal discomfort but, in the end, you’re rewarded with a perfect smile.

What to Know About Braces Before You Get Them

Your orthodontist will work with you while you’re still in the office to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. You’ll experience a little discomfort the first couple of weeks or so adjusting to braces, but most people get used to them fairly quickly.

Here’s what to know about braces so you can be prepared for the process of beautifying your smile.

What to Expect with Braces in the First Few Days

Your gums and mouth may feel a little tender or sore – just as they would after any kind of dental work.

Pay special attention to the soft tissue in your mouth like your tongue, lips, and inside of your cheeks. Your orthodontist will give you a special wax and analgesic to help prevent friction between metal braces and the soft tissue.

If you’ve ever played guitar or lifted weights, you are probably familiar with irritation on your fingers or hands from the repetitive motion over hard surfaces. The good news is, tissue in the mouth often heals much faster than skin over other areas of the body so the discomfort shouldn’t last too long.

What Should You Avoid While Adjusting to Braces?

Although braces are made of metal, they are very intricate and require special care.

What happens when you get braces and don’t care for them? For one thing, you’ll need to see your orthodontist more often than you’d like to get them fixed.

Damaging your braces also means you could have to spend more time wearing them in case they lose traction or effectiveness. Protruding wires can become very painful.

For these reasons, it’s important to avoid the habits below if you have or are getting braces:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Biting your nails
  • Chewing on ice
  • Biting or chewing pen caps and other objects
  • Chewing gum (looking at you baseball players)
  • Poking or picking your braces and teeth

Should You Make Any Changes to Your Diet?

In general, no, you shouldn’t have to make any drastic changes to your diet. However, there are a few key foods you should avoid.

Braces require additional cleaning and care. Even if you think you’ve cleaned everything out, some sticky or chewy foods can become lodged in the brackets leading to cavities or plaque.

If you’re getting braces or already have them, avoid the foods below as much as possible.

  • Hard or sharp foods like hard candies, popcorn, and nuts
  • Anything you have to bite into like apples and corn on the cob
  • Anything sticky like soft caramel or fruit snacks
  • Chewy or doughy foods like bagels or soft pretzels

What to Expect with Braces and Oral Care

When people ask, “How long does it take to get used to braces?” they’re often talking about the initial discomfort. They should, however, pay more attention to getting used to the routine of having braces.

Cleaning your braces isn’t difficult, but it is very different from what you’re probably used to.

  1. Always brush your teeth immediately after eating to avoid food building up in your braces. Your toothpaste should always contain fluoride. If you don’t have access to a sink or brush, rinse your mouth with some water or mouthwash.
  2. Keep a few extra toothbrushes handy. You’ll notice braces wear them down quickly. Plus, you can stash them around your desk or bag for brushing on the go.
  3. Make sure to brush your braces as carefully as you would the crevices of your teeth. The metal should be shiny – not dull.
  4. Make a habit of flossing every night before bed. Your orthodontist will show you how to properly floss with your new braces.

What Happens When You Get Braces?

Your orthodontist will do everything possible to help minimize the pain and discomfort.

It’s probably a good idea to take some medication containing acetaminophen immediately before your braces are applied. Ibuprofen works great for pain, but it can slow tooth movement which means the initial pain could last longer than necessary as your teeth shift.

Before leaving the office, you should run your tongue and a finger around your braces to ensure no wires are sticking out to poke your cheeks, lips, or tongue.

After that, your orthodontist will show you how to apply a special wax to your brackets which minimizes friction while your soft tissue gets accustomed to the strange objects in your mouth.

Finally, you’ll make your next appointment for an adjustment or checkup and be on your way.

How Long Does It Take to Get Used to Braces?

The first few days are definitely the most difficult in terms of discomfort, but after that, it should be smooth sailing.

How long does it take to get used to braces in your mouth? Most people find themselves adjusting to braces in one or two weeks. Although it feels strange at first, you’ll probably get used to them fairly quickly if you try not to focus on them too much.

Keep your eyes on the prize: that beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. In a few months, you’ll be more than glad you went through minimal discomfort.

If You’re Thinking About Getting Braces, East Gate Orthodontics Can Help

East Gate Orthodontics in Chantilly, Virginia has years of experience helping people of all ages achieve perfect smiles with braces. We have several options for you to choose from including metal braces, clear ceramic braces, and Invisalign.

Our flexible payment options and Saturday hours make braces more affordable and accessible than ever before. If you’re thinking of getting braces, contact East Gate Orthodontics today to schedule a consultation or call at 703-542-6336.