Life With Braces

hero banner slider photo

Taking Care of Your Braces

Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment in Watertown, Brookings, Aberdeen, and Milbank.


  • Brush at least four times a day – after each meal and before going to bed
  • Brush well – It will take you several minutes to brush your teeth thoroughly
  • Brush your tongue and gums as well as chewing surfaces
  • Look in the mirror to see how you did
  • Poor brushing leads to cavities and/or permanent white marks
  • Use a fluoride rinse each night before bed, after brushing
  • Use a Waterpik to help remove food from between teeth that a toothbrush might miss


  • For areas between the teeth that the toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque
  • Use a reusable floss threader to floss under your archwire daily
  • Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed

Foods To Avoid

In most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods, and food high in sugar should be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods since they can cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing, and chewing on foreign objects should also be avoided.

  • Hard foods (frozen candy bars, suckers, thick Dorito chips, kettle chips, nuts, hard candies, hard crusts of pizza, ice cubes, peanut brittle, beef jerky, etc.)
  • Sticky foods (Laffy Taffy, caramels, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, licorice, Milk Duds, Sugar Daddies, caramel apples, Jolly Ranchers, gummy worms, etc.)
  • If you eat carrots, apples, celery, etc., be sure to cut them up into bite-sized pieces!

Oral Hygiene

Orthodontic care kits are given to each patient at the time they start treatment.

Proper oral hygiene is demonstrated when each patient starts treatment and hygiene instructions are given as needed by our oral hygiene coordinators to support great oral hygiene and education throughout treatment.

We utilize several treatment options to minimize decalcification (white spots) and support excellent oral hygiene.

Waterpiks are available for purchase and strongly encouraged for use by our patients.

At each visit, we rate our patients’ oral hygiene on a scale from 1-5. If a patient receives a 2 or less rating at two consecutive appointments, a letter is sent informing their parent or guardian. Continued poor oral hygiene causes the wires (and potentially the brackets) to be removed either temporarily or permanently.

We promote positive reinforcement of good oral hygiene through our Smile Rewards program – awarding points for dental cleaning, no cavities, and other excellent oral care improvements.

Minor Discomfort Is Normal

  • Wire Poking – Don’t wait until your next appointment. Call the office if the problem continues. We are always happy to answer your questions!
  • Loose teeth – If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth in order to move them into the right position.
  • Loose bands or brackets – broken or loose braces or appliances may or may not be a problem – call the office to be sure!
  • Lost separators – most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced
  • Wire poking – during treatment wires may shift or bend, which may result in a wire poking. If this happens, cover the area with wax or bend the wire with the eraser end of the pencil. Call the office if the problem continues. We are always happy to answer your questions!
  • Mouth sores from braces – use wax to protect the area.
  • Treatment time may be extended due to broken/loose brackets or bands, poor rubber band wear, poor oral hygiene, or missed appointments

After hours, you may contact us for comfort care, repairs, or questions by calling our regular office phone number where you will be directed to the after-hours cell phone number to connect with our team member on call.

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

We have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. We will provide a special orthodontic mouthguard for a nominal fee.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax or by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.

Playing Instruments With Braces

Comfort covers for band members may be purchased for a nominal fee and can help ease the discomfort of playing an instrument during treatment.

We hope you enjoy this new experience with us. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.