Now that you have been provided with a functional brace, you may have some questions you would like answered.
Should I wear the functional brace all the time?
Yes, wear it day and night. You should take the brace out for eating, brushing and contact sports that require a mouthguard. It should also be removed for swimming because if it accidentally came out in the pool, it would be almost impossible to find! Remember, if you do leave your brace out for any reason; put it in a rigid box.
Ideally, you should be wearing the brace for about 22 hours in every 24 hour period. Wear it for much shorter periods will mean that your treatment will progress slowly or may not progress at all.
What should I expect in the first week?
Almost as soon as the brace is fitted you will notice an increase in the volume of saliva in your mouth. This saliva should be swallowed as normal and not slurped or spat out. This excess saliva will resolve within a few days.
Your lips and cheeks may also feel a bit tender in the areas that press against the brace and again this will also improve within a few days.
Talking with feel strange to start with and you are encouraged to talk aloud as much as possible when you initially get the brace. This will allow your tongue to adapt to the brace being there and within a week your speech should go back to normal. Perhaps read a book aloud at home!
Your teeth will start to feel tender by about the end of the first day and this is normal. This will pass after a few days. Patients do not usually need to take any painkillers but if you feel that this is necessary for you, the normal painkillers you take for pain control should be used (ensure you follow the instructions on the packet).
You will also feel tenderness around the jaw joint which is just in front of the ear. Your jaw muscles may also feel tender because the brace is changing the way in which your jaws function.
Do I wear the functional brace for eating and drinking?
Most patients will remove the functional brace for eating although some patients are able to keep the brace in when eating. If you choose to eat with the brace in, it will be a little difficult to eat initially so it is best to start with soft food such as pasta, rice, soft fish or yogurt. As you get more use to the brace you will feel more comfortable eating firmer food. Remember to remove your brace after each meal or drink and rinse the brace under running water to clean it.
Some foods are certain to damage your brace and these should be avoided throughout your treatment. Chewing gum, hard sweets and toffees, whole apples and crusty bread are a few examples. Apples and bread can be chopped into smaller pieces which are less likely to damage your brace.
Your teeth are also more vulnerable to attack from sugars when you wear a brace. For this reason, you should limit your intake of sugary snacks such as sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits. Fizzy drinks should be stopped until your brace work is finished and you should be careful with fruit juices and flavoured bottled water which often have hidden sugars. These drinks are fine with your main meals but in between meals, the safest drink is plain water.
If you remove the brace for eating make sure that you place it in a rigid box to reduce the likelihood of the brace being damaged or lost. Boxes are available at the practice or you can use a small Tupperware box or soap box.
How do I clean the brace?
If you eat with the brace in, it should be removed after each time you eat or drink and rinsed under cold or warm water. Do not use hot water as this may damage the brace. If you take the brace out for eating, rinse your mouth with water before putting the brace back in.
Twice a day you should remove the brace and brush all the surfaces with a tiny amount of toothpaste and a toothbrush. You are encouraged to soak the brace once a week in a special cleaner which is available from the practice. This will ensure it stays looking clean and smelling fresh.
Do I clean my teeth any differently?
Only a little modification is necessary. Make sure you concentrate on any areas that your brace comes into contact with your mouth. This usually means you have to brush your palate as well as the teeth and gums. Make sure you are using fluoride toothpaste. A fluoride mouthwash is also beneficial and you will be advised to use this once or twice a day, ideally at a time other than when you brush your teeth.
How often will I need to be seen by the orthodontist?
This varies depending on the type of brace that you have. It can range from 6 to 8 weeks. The brace will become loose with time and therefore it will need to be tightened. To reduce the chances of it becoming loose, you should avoid clicking the brace in and out of your mouth with your tongue.
Should I still see my regular dentist?
Yes. The orthodontist will be addressing the orthodontic issues in your mouth so it is important to see your regular dentist at the normal intervals.
What should I do if something happens to the brace?
If the brace breaks or distorts, or you lose it, you should contact the practice as soon as is reasonably possible. You should not wait until your next routine appointment. Have a look in I Have A Problem With My Brace where you can find helpful tips on coping with common problems.