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General Instructions for Orthodontic Patients

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General Instructions for Orthodontic Patients

4 min read


For quick and accurate orthodontic treatment, the patient needs to follow certain instructions. Read the article to know about the various instructions that needs to be followed.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At September 22, 2020
Reviewed AtAugust 22, 2023


Braces and orthodontic treatment are done to align mal positioned teeth and close gaps between teeth. Orthodontic treatment is a slow process, and it takes a long period to complete. The duration depends on the severity of the case. The patient may feel discomfort during the first few days. Children, as well as adults, might need orthodontic treatment, and it is necessary to follow some instructions to get the best results in the period prescribed.

What Are the General Instructions for Orthodontic Patients?

1. Oral Hygiene - Tooth Brushing and Flossing

Special attention must be paid to oral hygiene as the orthodontic fixed and removable appliances will make it more difficult to keep the teeth and gums clean. Brushing the teeth and gums thoroughly at least twice a day and after each meal to keep plaque from building up around the braces and appliance.

Orthodontic Toothbrush - Orthodontic toothbrush has specially designed bristles that help to get in between the braces to remove plaque and dislodge the food.

Interproximal Brushes - Interproximal brushes allow access to areas under brackets and wires to help to remove plaque, debris, and lodged food that was missed during the routine brushing procedure. Interdental brushes have fine tips enabling them to slide underneath the braces. Do not push the brush in between the teeth.

  • Patients should floss once a day after brushing.
  • The use of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended.
  • Use of fluoride mouthwash at night after brushing.
  • Keep the toothbrush and floss, while traveling thus ensuring proper cleaning.

2. Eating Habits

  • Avoid sticky, gummy, chewy, or hard food items. Examples include gum, caramel, taffy, whole bagels, popcorn, nuts, or ice cubes.
  • Cut raw fruits and vegetables into sections.
  • Cut corn off the cob.
  • Do not bite into hard foodstuff.
  • Avoid sugary snacks that can increase the risk of cavities and may damage the braces.
  • Do not chew gum, even sugarless gum.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco.

3. Useful Hints for Irritation

  • If the appliance is causing persistent discomfort or becomes damaged or loose, immediately talk to the orthodontist.
  • Any sharp part of braces or an orthodontic wire should be covered with orthodontic relief wax or wet cotton pellet.
  • If any components of the braces are broken, keep them and immediately visit the orthodontist.

4. Telephone

  • Contact the orthodontist if there are any questions or doubts.
  • Schedule an appointment with an orthodontist immediately if any wire breaks or a band or bracket comes loose.

5. Important – Do Not Forget!

  • If wearing night braces, retainers, or functional appliances, always carry them for each appointment.
  • Broken or debonded brackets, loose molar bands, etc., will prolong treatment.
  • Cooperation is a must in wearing elastics, night appliances, and all removable appliances for treatment success.

What Are the Instructions Regarding Orthodontic Appliances?

1. Separators

  • Separators are small elastics that fit snugly between the molars to help move them slightly apart so that bands can be fitted around them after a few days.
  • Do not floss where separators are placed.
  • Check separators every day. It will fall on its own when enough space is created.
  • When separators are placed, then the bite may feel bouncy.
  • Teeth may feel sore for the first few days.
  • Immediately call for an appointment if the separators came out, as they need to be replaced.

2. Elastics

  • These are tiny rubber bands that are attached to the upper and lower bracket extension to enhance the progress of treatment.
  • Elastics should be worn all the time except during cleaning.
  • Try to eat with elastics as it will fasten the progress.
  • A new set of elastics should be worn every day, morning and night, after brushing the teeth.
  • If elastic breaks on one side, remove the other side's elastic and then replace either side with new elastics.
  • Keep extra elastics all the time so that if elastic breaks, replace them immediately so there will not be any discontinuation of force applied, and the force applied will be correct.
  • Wear the elastics and go for the appointment so that the orthodontist can check whether the elastics are correctly used.
  • If running short of elastics, contact the orthodontist and ask for the same.

3. Removable Orthodontic Appliances

  • Wear the appliances strictly as instructed by the orthodontist.
  • Clean the appliances after every meal.
  • Use normal tap water for cleaning the appliance. Do not put the appliance in boiling water or bleaching agents for cleaning.
  • The speech will be difficult, but the problem will sort out in a few days.
  • After wearing the appliance there will be excess salivation for a few days, but it will be controlled on regular use of the appliance.
  • If any discomfort in wearing or adjusting the appliance, then talk to the orthodontist.
  • When the appliance is not in use, please keep it in a plastic container.
  • Keep away from pets.
  • Do not use the tongue to remove the appliance. Know the correct method of appliance insertion and removal.
  • If the appliance gets loose, bent, or broken, contact the orthodontist immediately.

What are the Patient Instructions For Clear Aligners?

  • Wear clear aligners all the time except during eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. The aim should be around 22 hours per day.
  • After brushing the teeth every morning and night, brush Invisalign with a toothbrush and paste.
  • It would be best if a person cleans the teeth after every meal and before the insertion of clear aligners to maintain proper oral hygiene.
  • Eat and drink without wearing clear aligners and can drink water wearing them. Having any other drink with clear aligners worn, the chances of staining will increase the risk of decay.
  • One should not smoke wearing clear aligners, as it may discolor.
  • There will be discomfort in the initial few days for around 3 to 4 days after wearing the new aligner, as every time it is aimed to exert pressure on some teeth.
  • In the initial days, speech is difficult, with the time tongue getting habitual to it.
  • When not in use, keep aligners in the case provided to avoid any damage or loss.
  • Follow the schedule at home to change the aligners on specified dates, and also follow the appointment schedule punctually to ensure the progress of treatment.
  • Contact the orthodontist as soon as possible and resume wearing the previous aligner till getting the next one.


For the successful completion of orthodontic treatment, patient cooperation is important. Some of the key points to remember are maintaining proper oral hygiene through proper brushing and flossing. Following the patient's instructions from the orthodontist and strictly adhering to them can help in reducing discomfort and complications, thus leading to a better experience throughout the treatment period and the desired result after the course of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does Orthodontic Treatment Do?

Orthodontic treatment includes braces or clear aligners that work to –
- Cure any oral and facial functional problems like chewing food or speech difficulty.
- Helps in the guided and proper eruption of teeth 
- Helps in the proper alignment of shifted, rotated, or impacted teeth.
- Removes any underlying traumatic problems associated with occlusion.
- Improves facial appearance and dental aesthetics by leveling and proper alignment of teeth.


What Are the Rules for Wearing Braces?

- Avoid removing the braces in the middle of the treatment duration.
- Refrain from eating any hard foods.
- Avoid eating or biting too hard from the front teeth.
- Do not chew on chewing gums.
- Avoid eating hard or chewy candy bars and chocolates.
- Eat foods that are soft and easy to chew.
- Maintain good hygiene, brush twice daily, and use a tongue cleaner to clean the tongue.
- Get a professional teeth cleaning and polishing every six months for better oral hygiene.


What Should One Not Do With Braces?

- Avoid eating crunchy foods like biscuits, popcorn, chips, and ice. 
- Refrain from eating sticky foods like caramel candies and chewing gum. 
  - Hard foods should be avoided, like nuts and hard candies.
- Foods that require biting from the front teeth, like corn, apples, and carrots.


What Should One Avoid Doing After Braces?

- One cannot eat hard substances, food items like chewy candy bars, and foods that require biting from front teeth, like apples and carrots.
- One cannot eat foods that require breaking and chewing, for example, non-vegetarian food.
- Playing instruments involving the mouth, such as the flute, is challenging.
- One cannot eat anything for three hours after getting braces.
- Braces treatment involves metal or ceramic brackets and wires that makes it difficult to floss the teeth and maintain hygiene between the teeth. In addition, one cannot floss with floss threads.


What Is Included in Orthodontic Care?

Orthodontic care includes –
-Straightening and aligning teeth 
- Bite corrections to correct the way a person bites for proper chewing.
- Correction of certain functional habits like mouth breathing and speech problems.
- Improving facial appearance by making skeletal and functional corrections.
- Orthodontic counseling and counseling on oral hygiene maintenance.


What Should One Do Before and After Braces?

- Before braces, one should get a professional tooth cleaning and polishing and treat the teeth for any cavities or surgical procedures needed before applying the braces. Dentists advise filling the cavities and removing any wisdom teeth before starting the braces treatments.
- After the application of the braces, one must not eat anything for at least three hours and avoid chewing very hard.


How To Take Care of The Mouth With Braces?

- Oral hygiene is essential for people with braces. Unfortunately, wearing braces makes it difficult to maintain hygiene. 
- Make sure to brush twice daily with an orthodontic toothbrush.
- Use an interdental toothbrush to clean the spaces between the teeth.
- Use a water flosser to floss teeth instead of floss threads.
- Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash to cure bad breath.
- Use a tongue cleaner to clean the tongue.


Can I Drink Cold Water With Braces?

Yes, people can drink cold water with braces if they do not experience any tooth sensitivity. Orthodontic treatments cause initial sensitivity, which subsides after one to two weeks. Dentists recommend using sensitivity toothpaste to relieve sensitivity pain. If one is comfortable drinking cold water, there is no harm in doing so.


What Should One Eat After Getting Braces?

After braces, it is recommended to eat soft foods that are easy to chew. In addition, it is recommended to eat soft foods to prevent breaking brackets and wire components.
- People should avoid sticky, gummy, chewy, or hard food items,  gum, caramel, taffy, whole bagels, popcorn, nuts, or ice cubes.
- Prefer to eat cut fruits and vegetables instead of whole fruits.
- Hard substances like almonds, walnuts, and other nuts should be ground and eaten.
- Avoid sugary snacks that can increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Avoid chewy gums and candy bars.
- Quit habits like smoking and chewing tobacco as it compromises oral health.


Which Mouthwash Is Best for Braces?

The best mouthwash for braces is one that is non-alcoholic and contains fluoride. Alcoholic mouthwashes cause staining on teeth. Hence it is preferable to use a non-alcoholic mouthwash for more prolonged use. In addition, braces make it difficult to maintain oral hygiene and increase the risk of tooth decay. Fluoride is an element known to have anti-cariogenic properties that prevent tooth cavities. Therefore, using a non-alcoholic and fluoride-based mouthwash for braces is recommended.
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Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal
Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal



orthodontic toothbrushesinvisalignorthodontic treatmentdental braces
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