Dr Sierk Orthodontics
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Oral Hygiene & Home Care

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You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food becomes caught in the brackets and between your teeth and can only be removed by brushing and flossing. If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it can leave a permanent white scar on the surface. Brushing after meals should become part of your daily schedule. Use a soft toothbrush and brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth in small circles above and below the brackets. Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.

A Waterpik can be a useful addition, but it cannot remove the sticky plaque that adheres to the teeth. A Sonicare ultrasonic toothbrush can be used to help remove plaque. Flossing is important with braces and is accomplished using reusable floss threaders.

Eating Habits

Please do not eat hard foods, including nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spare ribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating) and popcorn! These foods can cause breakage of the brackets and wires. Also beware of nail-biting and pen- or pencil-chewing habits, which can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods like taffy, caramels, bubble gum or sticky candy of any sort. Use common sense about most foods. Excessive broken appliances due to careless eating habits may result in additional charges for repair.


Check your braces once a week for anything loose or bent. If a bracket or band comes loose or you break a wire, please call our office so we can arrange an appointment long enough to repair it.

Sore Teeth

After braces are placed in the mouth, it is normal for the teeth to be sore for 2 to 3 days. Tylenol or Advil/Motrin will help relieve this discomfort. Some irritation to the cheeks and tongue is normal, but if you feel anything sharp poking you, please call our office.


Elastics (rubber bands) attached to your braces create the right amount of pressure to move teeth and correct your bite. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn at all times and changed at least twice every day. Any time missed in wearing your elastics will prolong your treatment, so make sure to wear them as instructed. Remove them only when brushing your teeth or eating meals. Then put them back on immediately. If you forget to wear your elastics one day, don't double up the next day — just follow your regular instructions.

Removable Appliances

A removable appliance may be used during your orthodontic treatment. In most cases, this type of appliance is to be worn near full-time. It may be removed while swimming or engaging in vigorous sporting activities. In two to three days, your speech will return to normal with the appliance in place. Avoid flipping your appliance with your tongue. This can damage your teeth or break the appliance.

Your new appliance may make your teeth sore for a day or two, especially after an adjustment. If you have a sore spot on your gums, call our office so we can arrange to adjust the appliance. Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Denture cleaner can also be used for a more thorough cleaning. Never wrap your appliance in a paper napkin or tissue and set it down on the table. You or someone else may throw it away. Don't put it in your pocket when playing, or you may break or lose it. Whenever it is not in your mouth, it should be in its plastic appliance case.

Keep your appliance away from dogs or cats, who love to chew on them. Avoid storing it near any source of heat. Do not boil your appliance to sterilize it! If necessary, bring it to the office, and we will be happy to disinfect it for you. Do not soak your appliance in mouthwash. An additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken appliances. Please bring your appliances to all appointments.

Your Retainer

  • After orthodontic treatment has been completed, removable clear retainers will be placed. Your retainers are to be worn full-time for six months except while eating and brushing your teeth. After six months, we will decrease the recommended daily time for retainer wear.
  • Your retainer should be in your mouth or in its case at all times.
  • Do not place your retainer in a napkin or leave it on the table at a restaurant.
  • Dogs love to play with retainers. Please make sure yours retainer is in your mouth at all times unless you are brushing your teeth or eating.
  • Occasionally a fixed retainer is recommended. It is bonded to two or more teeth. A fixed retainer is not considered "permanent" and can be broken or detached from your teeth if you are not careful with it.
  • Bring your retainers to your retainer check appointments. If you have any problem with your retainer, please call us as soon as possible. If you feel a fixed retainer may be loose, please contact our office.
  • Keep things clean! Brush your retainer with a toothbrush and water. Over the counter denture cleaners are a great adjunct to tooth brushing in keeping your retainer clean.
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