Many teenagers need braces to fix crowded or crooked teeth and jawbones that don’t meet properly.
Although as a teenager, you may have been wearing your braces for a while already, it’s a good idea to brush up on how to look after them – and your teeth – properly. Plus, once your permanent braces have been taken off, it is likely that you will need to wear a retainer (removable brace) at night for a while, to help make sure that your teeth stay in the right position.
How long you need to wear braces depends on three key things:
- How quickly your mouth responds – some people take only 12 months to fix their teeth, others take longer.
- Making sure that you keep your braces and teeth clean and take care of them properly.
- Making sure that you go to all your follow-up appointments with your orthodontist (as well as regular check-ups with your dentist) and follow their advice.
When wearing a brace, you have to be careful with the foods you eat and you'll have to spend a few extra minutes cleaning your braces each day and after meals. But you’ll still be able to sing, play a musical instrument, smile, play sports (though you will need a mouthguard for some sports) and of course, kiss. Your friends will get used to you having braces more quickly than you think
What are the main causes?
If you have a new brace, although actually having the brace fitted should not be painful, it will take a few days to get used to wearing it. This is the time when mouth ulcers and sore spots are most likely to develop, as your brace rubs against your cheeks, lips and gums. If you have been wearing your fitted brace for a while, you’ll know that your orthodontist will need to check your braces every 6–8 weeks, to replace worn-out rubber bands, check on the progress of your teeth, and make adjustments to the wires to make sure your teeth are being pulled in the right direction. Mouth ulcers may also occur after these adjustments have taken place.
What are the symptoms?
A mouth ucler is:
- round or oval in shape
- usually red or yellow in colour
- swollen arount the edge
Most mouth ulcers appear on the:
- inside of the lips
- inside of the cheeks
What are my treatment options?
If any parts of your brace are causing you pain and discomfort, you may want to try using a painkiller such as ibuprofen or paracetamol for a day or two. If you’re getting sore spots and mouth ulcers too, the dentist or orthodontist can give you some clear wax to place over the part of the brace that is causing the problem, but don’t use it at night.  You can also use a mouth ulcer gel at any time of the day or night (but no more than every 3 hours) or a weak solution of warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of water) may help to ease the irritation.
What can I do about it?
The main goals for treating your mouth ulcer are to relieve your pain, reduce inflammation and help fight infection. There are three products in the bonjela range, designed to help you feel more comfortable while wearing your brace and help fight infection. They are all suitable for people over the age of 16.
Designed to soothe pain, bonjela Complete Plus is for adults over the age of 16.
Because your brace provides food with more places to hide, you'll need to be extra careful with your hygiene routine. Food may build up in the brackets and in between your teeth, so you will need to carefully clean them to remove it. Make sure you brush your teeth and brace twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
If you don't look after your teeth while you're wearing your brace, they may become permanently stained.
Although you'll still be able to eat most of the foods you were eating before, you will need to take care not to damage your brace. Stay away from chewy foods like toffees, marshmallows and chewing gum, and hard foods like crusty bread. You may need to cut up hard food like apples, but you'll still be able to eat them.
Avoid fizzy drinks and natural fruit juices as these are often high in sugar and can be acidic, which can cause tooth decay and stain the brackets.
Continue to visit your regular dentist while you are having treatment, to make sure that your teeth and mouth stay healthy.