Getting braces can be a frightening experience — your days of blissfully chewing gum or biting into a whole apple are over for a couple years, but there are other habits you probably have that also need to be broken. In order to prevent your braces from breaking, damaging your teeth or leaving lasting wear and tear on your enamel, take caution and don’t engage in the habits listed below. You’ve paid good money for a perfect smile, but it’s up to you to give your braces the environment they need to work properly.
1) Nail Biting: Most people are guilty of regularly destroying their hopes of long nails due to this habit. There’s nothing wrong with having short nails, but biting your nails with braces can break your brackets or bend wires. In general, nail biting is harmful to teeth — teeth aren’t meant to be moving all the time, and chewing on your nails stresses your teeth, contributing to misalignment and crookedness.
2) Opening Things With Your Mouth: We all do it; who are they trying to keep out of these packages, anyways?! While opening things with your teeth is bad for them in general, the complications can be much worse with braces. Using your teeth as tools can break off brackets or chip your sensitive teeth, a complication that braces can’t fix. Try to only use your teeth for what they were meant for: eating.
3) Eating Ice: Nothing is better than an ice cold lemonade on a hot day, but make sure to leave the ice behind when you’re done with your drink. Ice is hard and cold, both of which are bad for your braces and your teeth. Brackets and wires can be damaged, and the cold can cause sensitivity and pain when eating or drinking. It’s best to break this habit and keep it broken even when the braces are off to avoid chipping your new, straight teeth.
4) Drinking Soda: The brackets on your teeth and the wires surrounding them have plenty of pockets for plaque and buildup to hide. Drinking acidic soda damages enamel and when sipped over a long period of time, will build up around brackets, potentially causing white spots when braces are removed. This damage won’t be fully noticed while braces are on, so it’s important to avoid sugary and acidic drinks and to brush thoroughly so that you have clean, white teeth after removing your braces.
5) Not Wearing A Mouth Guard: For those of us who play sports, getting braces can put a real damper on our favorite pastime. You can still play, however, but you’ll need to get a mouth guard. Any sport where there’s a slight possibility of getting a ball, elbow, leg, anything to the face needs extra protection for your braces. Investing in a mouth guard (and wearing it!) prevents breakage of mouth hardware and serious mouth injury.
By breaking these familiar habits, you’ll not only be helping your braces do their job, but you’ll be setting yourself up for healthy teeth for life! All of these habits damage even brace-less teeth, so stopping them now gives you good habits for later.
At Greenspoint Dental, we offer an alternative to traditional braces: Invisalign — custom-molded, clear retainers that straighten teeth. If you’re ready for straighter teeth, contact us today to make an appointment.