Caring for your teeth if you have fixed orthodontic appliances

For patients with Fixed Orthodontic Appliances it’s vital to ensure your teeth are well cared for during treatment.

We’ve asked the clinic’s specialist orthodontist Andrew McGregor to give us some guidance on how best to achieve maximum dental hygiene when you’re wearing a fixed appliance.

These are general guidelines for patients being treated with fixed orthodontics treatments.

If you have any queries please ask, Andrew and our team here at our Glasgow dental clinic are on hand to help with any questions.

Fixed appliances consist of metal or ceramic brackets glued to the front or back of teeth. These components are connected by a horseshoe-shaped archwire.

The brackets and bands are not removed until the end of treatment, however, certain components of the appliance (such as the archwire) may be changed during treatment.

You may experience a small amount of discomfort when the appliance is first fitted and after each adjustment appointment. This will normally settle after a few days, but mild pain killers such as paracetamol may be helpful.

The metal attachments themselves can irritate the inside of the lips and cheeks and are particularly noticeable when first fitted. You may need to apply some soft wax over the surface of the brackets or bands to prevent discomfort. Please don’t hesitate to ask any of the team for a supply of this soft wax – in case it’s required.

It is essential that you keep your appliance and teeth clean. If plaque and food debris are allowed to collect around the appliance staining and discolouration of the enamel and tooth decay can occur. A diet high in sugar is likely to make this worse, therefore sweets and sugary drinks (such as cola and lemonade) should be avoided as much as possible.

Your appliance is very delicate and easily damaged. Hard or sticky food such as toffees and chewing gum must be avoided altogether. Any other foods which are part of your normal diet but which would require hard chewing should be cut into small, manageable pieces.

Breakages are less likely to happen if you follow the instructions above. If you break your appliance please telephone us during normal working hours so that arrangements can be made to repair it. When you attend for routine appointments, please tell us immediately if you suspect that part of your appliance has become loose or damaged.

In the later stages of treatment elastic bands may be placed on your appliances (usually connecting the upper and lower braces) to help move your teeth into the correct position. You will be shown how to place these yourself.

Elastics are an essential part of treatment and must be worn as instructed. Normally this should be full time, although they must be taken off when cleaning your teeth. Once you have been given elastics to wear, assume that you will need to wear them until the end of treatment, or until you are instructed otherwise.

Normal sports mouthguards cannot be worn with fixed appliances, however, special mouthguards can be provided if you need them. Please ask for further details of cost.