How to Cope With the Initial Challenges of Wearing Braces

Wearing braces can greatly improve a person's quality of life; having their teeth straightened can make them feel less self-conscious about their smile, make it easier for them to speak clearly and to chew their food more thoroughly. However, braces can be quite uncomfortable to wear at first; here are some tips which should help to make the adjustment phase less difficult.

Take care when eating

After fitting braces, orthodontists will usually provide their patients with a list of dietary guidelines. It's crucial to try to follow these instructions as much as possible, as there are certain foods which can cause serious problems for those who wear this type of dental device.

Anything that has a particularly chewy, sticky or hard texture, such as toffee, popcorn, nuts, carrots and raw apples should be avoided, as these could potentially break parts of the braces' brackets or wiring. This, in turn, could prolong treatment times. It can also be very painful if the broken wire cuts into the gums. If you do accidentally consume one of the above-mentioned foods and your braces break, smear a small amount of orthodontic wax over the broken area and make an emergency appointment with your orthodontist.

It's important to be aware that your dietary choices could have more of an impact on your chance of developing gum disease, cavities and teeth stains during the period of time that you wear your braces. This is because when you eat foods that encourage the development of plaque (such as starchy and sugary goods),  this plaque can accumulate and become trapped behind the brackets, an area which you won't be able to clean with a toothbrush. As such,  in addition to avoiding hard and chewy foods, it may also be a good idea to reduce your consumption of things like chocolate, bread and pasta.

Practice speaking

Many people feel quite alarmed by the impact their new braces have on their ability to speak. This is a common, temporary issue which normally resolves itself within a week or two. It's normal to have some difficulty pronouncing certain words (particularly those with C's, T's and S's in them) throughout the first fortnight or so of wearing braces; a lot of people find that they develop a lisp during this period.

This is because the muscles in your cheek and tongue have to adjust to the presence of your braces. If you want your speech to return to normal as quickly as possible, you should practice speaking as much as possible; chat to your friends and family, and whenever you want to read something, do so out loud. If your speech doesn't improve after a couple of weeks, you might want to have your orthodontist examine your braces, as they may need to be re-adjusted.