303 Smiles

5-star Orthodontist in Greenwood Village, CO
9 Tips to Set You Up for Braces Success

9 Tips to Set You Up for Braces Success

Hi everyone – Jen here. I’m the treatment coordinator here at 303 Smiles in Greenwood Village, Colorado and today I’m going to go over nine tips that will help you be more successful and get better results from your braces treatment.

Flossing With Braces

The first thing we’re going to talk about is flossing with braces. In your goodie bag that you received there’s a super floss in there, also known as a flossing threader, that you’re going to use. This is going to be a little bit of an adjustment, so make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to learn how to floss. You’re going to take the floss threader and you’re going to thread it up over the wire and under, and then up in around the gum line. Make sure you’re really getting good and up and around the gum line so that you get rid of any food debris.

A quick word of advice – this is not something that you want to try to do two minutes before you’re supposed to be in the car. Give yourself some time, maybe do a water pick in the morning and floss at night.

Use Your Proxy Brush

Another handy item in your goodie bag is your proxy brush. The proxy brush is a great tool to keep in your bookbag, your purse, or your car. It’s easier than carrying around a toothbrush and it gives you the opportunity to go in and easily brush around your brackets to remove any bits of stuck food.

Be sure to take your proxy brush and go around every surface of the bracket. This is super important if you’re having anything sugary, so then that way the sugar is not sitting around the bracket.

Brushing With Braces

Next we’re going to talk about brushing your teeth with braces. We teach a three-step process that we call a carwash:

  • Brush your teeth to loosen any food particles. You don’t need to use toothpaste for this part. Plain water will work just fine.
  • Swish and rinse. You can use water for this or a mouthwash like Listerine is good too. The important thing is that you really swish it around good so that the food debris you loosened with the first brushing gets washed away.
  • Brush again to thoroughly clean your teeth, gums, and braces. You want to make sure that you’re brushing every surface of your teeth and brackets. The key is to make sure you’re angling your toothbrush and getting underneath the bracket as well as the top of it. And don’t forget to brush above the gumline, too.

If you’re not brushing very well, you’re going to know it.


One of the ways you’ll know you’re not brushing well – particularly at the top of the gum line – is that your gums will get puffy, red, and angry. Then when we go to take braces off and then we remove the glue, all of a sudden you’re going to start to see white scars – or etching – on your teeth.

Those white scars are typically not removable. The last thing you want to do is invest in your smile, your parents invest into your smile, only to find that you’ve got white scars all over your teeth because you didn’t take care of them.

Know What Foods to Avoid

When you have braces, there are certain foods you want to avoid:

  • Stay away from anything hard, sticky, or chewy – this includes hard candy, gum, toffee, caramels, etc.
  • For harder breads like bagels, pretzels, etc. make sure you’re just eating the softer part of the bread. That’s the good part anyways.
  • Stay away from chips and popcorn – they can end up breaking brackets if they are too hard.
  • Don’t chew on ice – chips or cubes. It’s not good for your teeth and it’s not good for your brackets.
  • Yes, you still have to eat your fruits and vegetables, just be sure to cut them up into smaller pieces, take the corn off the cob, etc.

As you go through your braces treatment, you’re going to learn what works best for you. Something I’ve found that’s really helpful is to just take your time while you’re eating, cut things into smaller pieces, and slow down.

Bite Pillows

When we talk about bite pillows, you’ll see that you’ve got blue dots on the back of your teeth. These are called bite turbos. They are used to prop open the bite so that we can get your bite into a better position and that you’re not hitting your upper brackets against your lower brackets. Sometimes these take a bit to get used to, so when you’re chewing, slow down. Your teeth may not be able to connect in certain areas that they were connecting to before when you were eating. So just take your time.

You may knock one of these bite pillows off in the middle of the night because you’re clenching and grinding. It’s okay, it’s not a big deal. We’ll get it repaired at the next appointment. Or if it’s causing you discomfort, we’ll have you come in and we’ll get it fixed for you at that time.

Broken Brackets

Broken brackets happen. It’s not a big deal and it’s nothing to panic over. But if you’re eating anything hard, sticky, or chewy, this will likely be the reason why your bracket will break. Anything that’s loose and off of the bracket or off the tooth is considered broken. If you do have a broken bracket, just give us a call and let us know and we’ll repair it at the next appointment.

Rubber Bands (Elastics)

Everyone may have rubber bands (elastics) and everyone’s rubber band pattern may be different. Rubber bands are the best way to get your bite corrected and it’s the only part of your treatment that we can’t do for you. We can show you the rubber band pattern, we can give you the rubber bands, and we’ll set you up for success but if you don’t wear them, or don’t wear them enough, there’s a limitation to the bite correction.

To wear your rubber bands, you’ll hook from the upper teeth to the lower teeth and that will pull the bite into the proper positioning. Make sure you’re wearing them as close to 24/7 as possible or as instructed. If you want to be in braces forever, don’t wear your rubber bands, it can almost double your treatment time.

Dealing With Braces Discomfort

When you first get your braces, you may have some sores that happen on the inside of your lips because your lips are getting used to being around the brackets. As a result, they may rub up and down and callus. If you have a sore spot on your lip, what you want to do is you take a piece of dental wax and roll it between your fingers into a “worm”. Next you’re going to place the wax on the tooth that is bothering you as well as the one on either side of it. What that does help anchor the wax and give you a bumper to help bump the lip out away from the brackets.

If you have a broken bracket or a wire that is poking, you can do the same thing. You’re going to put wax on the broken bracket, wax on the second tooth next to it, and wax on the tooth next to that. Make sure your teeth and brackets are as dry as possible before you apply the wax. Do not use a washcloth, you may get that stuck in your bracket. Use a paper towel instead.

Dr. Derek Straffon and the team at 303 Smiles proudly serve the Greenwood Village community and surrounding areas, including Cherry Hills and Centennial, Colorado. We offer a range of treatment options including several types of braces as well as Invisalign clear aligners.