6750 N. 19th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85015 602-242-5741
5400 W. Northern Ave. Suite 102 Glendale, AZ 85301 623-500-5790

Braces 101

Why Braces?

Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain. Treatment by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems. For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you'll feel more self-confident.

Eating with Braces

Frame artwork for eating with braces section from Phoenix Pediatric Dental and Orthodontics

What can you eat? Let's talk about what you shouldn't eat! If you've been wanting to drop a few pounds, the first week wearing braces is just your chance! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you'll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you'll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you're wearing braces.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!

Loosening of Teeth

This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new - corrected - positions.

Loose Wire or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Care of Appliances

To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time


It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.


Frame artwork for mouthguard protection from Phoenix Pediatric Dental and Orthodontics

If you play sports, it's important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.

Type of braces

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

Gold Braces

Gold braces are similar to traditional metal braces in many ways. They are made of stainless steel, but are uniquely coated in gold. The gold coating may be considered a more cosmetic option than traditional metal braces. And, the cost of gold braces is surprisingly comparable to most clear braces.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.


Invisalign uses a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners to straighten you teeth. And, no one can tell you are wearing Invisalign because it's invisible! Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment. Click here to learn more Invisalign.

Type of appliances

To successfully complete your orthodontic treatment plan, patients must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the elastics (rubber bands), headgear or other appliances as prescribed. The following paragraphs describe the types of appliances that may be used during your treatment.

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Wearing elastics (rubber bands) improves the fit of your upper and lower teeth. Wear rubber bands as instructed because the rubber bands work far more efficiently if they are worn as prescribed.


Headgear is used to treat patients whose teeth are in an "overbite," (with the uppers forward of the lowers) or an "underbite" (with the lowers forward of the uppers). Headgear gently "pulls" on your teeth to restrict or encourage further forward growth of your upper teeth and jaw.

Herbst Appliance

This Herbst appliance reduces overbite by encouraging the lower jaw forward and the upper molars backward. This fixed appliance is used mostly for younger, growing children and is worn for about 12-15 months.

Palatal Expander

The palatal expander "expands" (widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars each time an adjustment is made. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how to adjust your expander. When you achieve the desired expansion, you will wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and to prevent regression.


Positioners complete the final tooth movements in your orthodontic treatment. With your full cooperation, you should only need to wear the positioner appliance for 4-8 weeks.


Retainers may be removable or fixed. They hold your teeth in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened. Your orthodontist will instruct you on how to care for your retainer and about the duration of the wear. Wearing your retainer as directed is crucial to prevent regression of your treatment. Click here for more information on how to care for your retainer.

Separators (or Spacers)

Separators are little rubber doughnuts that may be placed between your teeth to push them apart so that orthodontic bands may be placed during your next appointment. The separators will be removed before we place the bands. Separators do not mix well with sticky foods or with toothpicks and floss.

Braces page map for Phoenix Pediatric Dental and Orthodontics located in Phoenix and Glendale, AZ

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