At Home Care

How to Care For Your Braces at Home

In order to obtain the best possible results from your orthodontic treatment, we need your cooperation. A cooperative effort on your part is just as important as the efforts of Dr. Heinrichs and our staff.

Clean Teeth and Gums

Brush your teeth and gums properly at least two (2) times each day, especially after eating meals or snacks. 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. An electric 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, since these 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.


Attached to your braces, elastics (rubber bands) 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 all the times and changed at least twice every day. Any time missed in wearing your elastics will only 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.


Make sure you have the proper Invisalign aligner for the upper or the lower teeth. You may insert either one first. Gently push the aligner into place DO NOT BITE your Invisalign aligners into position, this may damage them. To remove your Invisalign aligners, use your fingers, starting on one side at the molars (back teeth) and slowly work your way around to the other side lifting gently. DO NOT use any sharp object to remove the aligners. After removal, rinse immediately with water, shake off excess and store your Invisalign aligners in the protective case provided to you.

Always clean your Invisalign aligners prior to insertion with a soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. Rinse thoroughly with water. DO NOT use denture cleaners or soak them in mouthwash. These products can damage the surface of the Invisalign aligner, causing it to become dull and more visible.

Proper oral hygiene is a must. Always remove your aligners for eating or drinking except for drinking water (only). Brush and floss your teeth after each meal or snack prior to re- inserting your Invisalign aligners. Regular hygiene appointments are recommended for continued health of the tissue and gums.

We recommend storing your Invisalign aligners in the cases when not in your mouth, as this will help protect them from damage or loss.

Removable Appliances

Wear your removable appliances and/or elastics faithfully, as directed by the staff and doctor. Your estimated treatment time is based on full cooperation with wearing appliances and elastics (rubber bands) as directed.

A removable appliance is carefully designed to move or hold your teeth in place. It should be worn according to instructions and brought to each appointment. Wear your appliance at all times, even while you are asleep. 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 cause damage to your teeth or breakage of your 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. Do not brush clear retainers with toothpaste, as this may dull their appearance. 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, as they love to chew on them. Avoid storing it near any source of heat. Do not boil your retainer to sterilize it! If needed, bring it to the office, and we will be happy to disinfect it for you. Do not soak your retainer in mouthwash. An additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken appliances. Please bring your retainers to all appointments.

Please do not eat any foods that could damage your appliances and delay your treatment.

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