The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces or Invisalign

October 18th, 2019

Whether you wear metal braces, clear braces or use Invisalign to straighten your teeth, your dentist will probably recommend that you follow up that treatment by wearing a retainer. While it may seem inconvenient to wear a retainer after undergoing the long process of tooth straightening, wearing a retainer can help keep your smile long after you finish your teeth-straightening treatment.

Crooked teeth are common, and so is the use of braces. More than four million people in the United States wear some sort of braces to straighten their teeth. About 25 percent of these people are adults, but most are teens. A recent survey of orthodontists found that 60 percent of patients wore their retainers more than 10 hours each day in the first three months of treatment; about 4 percent never wore their retainers at all. Neglecting their retainer leaves these patients at risk for developing misaligned teeth later in life.

Understanding How the Tooth Straightening Process Works

It is important to correct crooked, misaligned or gap teeth. While crooked teeth are a cosmetic issue, they can also cause dental problems – crooked teeth can put extra pressure on different parts of your mouth to cause problems later on in life. Misaligned teeth can also be difficult to brush and floss around, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Poorly aligned teeth can also result in a poor bite that prevents you from chewing your food well.

Dentists use a number of treatment plans, such as metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign, to straighten teeth. These treatments work by applying pressure to the teeth to gradually moving them into their optimal position in your jaw. Metal braces feature brackets cemented to your teeth and wires that apply pressure. Invisalign is a series of plastic trays that slowly push your teeth into place.

The good news is that, under pressure, the teeth move into place relatively easily. The bad news is that, without the pressure of braces or Invisalign, the teeth can move out of place again. This is especially true in the first year after you stop using Invisalign or have your braces removed. A retainer applies just enough pressure to keep your teeth in place while they settle into the new location in your jaw.

The Purpose of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces

There are two main types of retainers: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers are cemented in place, so you cannot remove them. You can easily slide a removable retainer in and out of your mouth. There are two types of removable retainers - Your dentist can recommend which type of retainer might be right for you.

Your orthodontist will also advise you on how long you should wear your retainer. Dentists usually recommend that you wear a removable retainer full time for at least one year after you have your braces removed or you stop wearing your Invisalign. If your teeth have stopped moving after a year of full time retainer use, your dentist may recommend that you wear your removable retainer only at night.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer at night for several years – or even forever, if your teeth tend to drift out of place.

If you don’t wear your retainer for the recommended amount of time, or not at all, your teeth may drift out of place and undo all of the hard work you have put into your beautiful smile. Neglecting your retainer can also put you at risk for a bad bite, tooth decay, gum disease and pressure from poorly aligned teeth. 

For more information on the importance of wearing your retainer after wearing braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth, contact OrthoCare Orthodontics. Dr. Ford Cooper, the founder of OrthoCare Orthodontics, works alongside two additional orthodontists to provide early orthodontic treatment, metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, corrective jaw surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, and emergency care. OrthoCare Orthodontics provides orthodontic care in four South Carolina locations, including Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and two offices in Charlotte, SC.

New patients can take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of the four practice locations.

What to Expect in the First 30 Days After Orthodontic Treatment

September 23rd, 2019

Taking time to learn about what to expect during your first 30 days after orthodontic treatment will provide you with valuable information that will help you adjust to life wearing braces or using clear plastic aligner trays.

OrthoCare Orthodontics wants to help you as you start your orthodontic treatment. That is why we have created a comprehensive guide that will provide you with a better understanding of what to expect while you are adjusting to living with a mouth full of metal, wires, rubber bands, or brackets or wearing a clear plastic aligner tray.

Mouth Soreness will Occur During the First Few Weeks 

It is not uncommon to experience slight pain, soreness, or discomfort in the first few weeks after your first orthodontic treatment. Pain, discomfort, and soreness occur because you are learning how to adjust to having a mouth filled with big, bulky metal wires, brackets, and other orthodontic appliances.

Most of the pain or soreness you experience in the first week is from irritation caused by the orthodontic appliances in your mouth. The soft skin around your gums, teeth, and cheek are unused to coming into contact with metal wires and brackets. Until the soft skin starts to toughen up, which will usually happen within the first month after orthodontic treatment, you will experience pain, soreness, and irritation sporadically throughout the day.

How to Handle or Treat Mouth Soreness Caused by Your Orthodontic Treatment 

There are a few things you can do to help relieve any pain or discomfort you experience during the first few weeks of your orthodontic treatment. Some of the ways you can reduce mouth soreness and pain caused by orthodontic treatment include:

  • Using orthodontic wax — orthodontic wax can be placed around sharp wires and brackets to ease irritation of the gums or soft tissue in the mouth
  • Rinsing with warm salt water — rinsing with warm salt water for approximately 30 seconds can help reduce any inflammation or swelling of the gums and it can help the soft tissue heal after being irritated by brackets and wires
  • Sucking on ice cubes — sucking on ice cubes can help reduce any swelling that is occurring around your gums. It can also help reduce any pain or soreness. It is important to make sure you don't crunch on the ice cubes as that could cause damage to your orthodontic appliances.
  • Using an ice pack to reduce swelling and relieve any pain
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever — before taking any medication for pain it is important that you speak with your doctor, dentist, or orthodontist

Prepare to Eat Soft Foods for the First Week or Two 

The pain and discomfort you experience may be so extreme that you will not want to be biting and chewing. While you wait for your mouth to adjust to your braces, you may want to only eat foods that are soft and easy to chew.

Some foods that are easy to eat during the first two weeks of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Seedless breads
  • Pasta
  • Pudding
  • Soup

After any pain or discomfort has subsided, you can start to eat some of your favorite foods. However, make sure that you don't eat anything that could cause any damage to your braces or other orthodontic appliances.

Brushing and Flossing Will Take Longer While Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment 

Before you started your orthodontic treatment, you were probably able to brush and floss your teeth in approximately five minutes. Unfortunately, it will take more time to properly brush and floss your teeth.

Brushing and flossing with braces and other orthodontic appliances will take longer because there are more spaces and areas to clean. You will have to clean not only the surface of your teeth, but the areas around the wires, around the brackets, and in between your teeth. It will take longer to clean all these areas.

Some tips to help you with brushing and flossing during the first month of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Plan enough time to brush and floss your teeth - you don't want to rush brushing and flossing your teeth as it could cause you to not remove all the food particles or plaque. It can also cause you to damage your braces. Make sure you give yourself enough time to properly brush and floss.
  • Consider using a water flosser - this doesn't replace regular flossing, but it can help remove food particles and plaque
  • Use a floss threader - a floss threader will help you remove plaque and food from around your wires
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush — this will allow you to clean your teeth, but won't damage your brackets or wires
  • Try to brush and floss after every meal — before you were able to brush 2 times a day and floss once a day. However, with braces you will want to try to brush and floss after every meal as food is more likely to get stuck in your braces and around your teeth
  • Rinse your mouth out with water — if you are unable to brush after eating, rinse your mouth out with water. This will remove any large food particles from your mouth.

Always be Prepared with the Proper Supplies 

Before you leave your orthodontist's office after that first appointment, you will be given a bag filled with all the supplies you need to properly care for your teeth and braces. Make sure that you have all the supplies you need. If you don't have enough supplies, feel free to ask your orthodontist for more.

Some of the supplies that you will want to make sure you have during the first month of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Orthodontic wax
  • Small soft bristled toothbrush
  • Elastic bands
  • Floss
  • Floss threader
  • List of instructions - instructions will be given on how to properly brush and floss, how often to change out your rubber bands and elastics, when to return for a follow up appointment, and what to do if you experience an orthodontic emergency such as a broken wire or a bracket falls off
  • Dental pick

Everyone's Experience the First Month of Orthodontic Treatment will be Different 

Everyone's experience during the first month of orthodontic treatment will be different. Some people will experience pain and discomfort for almost a month while others will only experience pain and discomfort for a few days. Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of what you might experience during the first month of your orthodontic treatment.

After reading about what to expect during the first month of wearing braces or using clear aligners, if you are ready to improve your smile call OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced orthodontists. All new patients who choose to undergo orthodontic treatment with OrthoCare Orthodontics after their consultation will receive $500 off their orthodontic treatment.

Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a consultation and you will be one step closer to improving your smile.

Does Age Determine if Braces are Right for You?

August 28th, 2019

Don’t assume that just because you didn’t get braces as a teenager, you have to continue living with uneven, crooked teeth. Orthodontists do not use age to determine if you are a good candidate for braces. Other factors, such as the health of your teeth and the type of problems you are experiencing, will determine what, if any, type of orthodontic treatment will help you improve your smile.

There is No Perfect Age for Getting Braces

While certain age groups respond better to orthodontic treatment, there isn’t a set age for when someone should get braces. Orthodontists can treat patients of all ages. There have been cases where patients were as young as seven or eight, or as old as 75, 80, or 85.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter how old you are. If you want to improve your smile and you have healthy teeth and gums, you are more than likely a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.

Childhood/Adolescence is the Best Time to Undergo Orthodontic Treatment

Ideally, the best time to seek orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 11 and 13. This is the ideal age because teeth tend to respond better to treatment. The reason being - because most of their baby teeth have fallen out and permanent teeth are growing in.

Since the teeth are starting to grow in and the roots have not fully formed and set in the jaw, they can easily be guided to their proper position with the use of orthodontic appliances, such as brackets, wires, and clear aligner trays.

Some of the other benefits of braces for this age group include:

  • Faster treatment times – Since teeth are easier to move into their proper position, treatment times tend to be shorter. Treatment times are also shorter because problems are caught in their early stages and are not left to get severe.
  • Surgery may not be needed – Orthodontists may be able to improve your smile without having to require you, or your child, to have to need a surgical tooth extraction or jaw realignment surgery.
  • Orthodontic treatment may cost less – Faster treatment times often means the overall cost of orthodontic treatment is less.
  • Helps establish good oral hygiene habits – Straight teeth are easier to brush and floss because there aren’t any hard-to-reach areas caused by crooked or overlapping teeth.
  • Reduces the chances of dental problems in the future – Dental problems such as chipped or cracked teeth, teeth grinding, and TMJ can be caused by misaligned or crooked teeth, as well as an uneven bite. Straightening your teeth at a younger age could reduce your chances of experiencing these types of problems.

Early Orthodontic Treatment Helps Prevent Severe Problems

It is often recommended that children see an orthodontist around their seventh birthday. This may seem a little too young for braces, but it can help with the early detection and treatment of some types of orthodontic problems.

Early orthodontic treatment, which is what is typically done during the ages of 7 and 11, is designed to help create space in the mouth so permanent teeth can properly grow in. Space can be created by using partial braces, retainers, spacers, or in severe cases removing teeth.

By creating space in the mouth, the permanent teeth can grow in as close to their proper position as possible. Once all the permanent teeth have grown in, a child can start comprehensive treatment which uses braces or other orthodontic appliances, such as clear aligners, to straighten their teeth.

It is Never Too Late to Get Braces

It is never too late to get braces. Adults of all ages can enjoy the benefits of braces. Some of the benefits of braces you get if you get them as an adult include:

  • Teeth cleaning will be easier – Your newly-aligned teeth will be extremely easy to brush and floss. Easier brushing and flossing reduce your risk of experiencing gum disease, cavities, and other oral health problems.
  • Food is easier to chew – Misaligned bites can often cause pain or discomfort when eating. Braces can correct that problem and make it easier for you to chew your food without any pain or discomfort.
  • Eliminates bad breath – Bacteria and plaque can form around misaligned or crooked teeth. If left in between the teeth, the plaque and bacteria can cause bad breath. Once your teeth are properly aligned, you can easily remove bacteria and plaque from between and around your teeth, which will eliminate your bad breath.
  • Reduced risk of damaging tooth enamel – Uneven teeth and a misaligned jaw can cause your teeth to rub against each other when you are eating or cause you to grind your teeth at night. This can result in extensive damage to the enamel, the protective layer, of your teeth. Properly aligned teeth won’t rub together as often which reduces your risk of experiencing these problems.
  • Increased confidence – People often feel better when they have a straighter smile.

While it is possible to get braces as an adult, it is important to remember that because the teeth are fully grown and the jawbone is set, it could take longer to shift and move your teeth into proper alignment. It will take longer to change the position of your teeth because they are more resistant to change.

In addition to longer treatment times, sometimes surgery may be needed in order to get adult braces. Dental extractions could be needed if you need extra space in your mouth for teeth to move around or jaw surgery could be needed if you have a severe over or underbite.

Not every individual will need surgery or have lengthy treatment times if they start orthodontic treatment as an adult. It will depend upon the types of problems that need to be corrected and the severity of those problems.

Want to Improve Your Smile? Schedule a Consultation to See How Braces Can Improve Your Smile

See how orthodontic treatment could help you improve your smile by calling OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Our orthodontists will assess your unique case and create a treatment plan that will give you a better, more improved smile.

Our orthodontists have experience treating patients of all ages. We provide a wide range of services including early orthodontic care, corrective jaw surgery, and comprehensive orthodontic treatment which can include the use of metal braces, Invisalign, and clear braces. If you want to improve your smile, we can help you.

Call any of our four office locations to learn more about our new patient promotion or schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you improve your smile!

Eating with Braces: What to Eat and What to Avoid

July 23rd, 2019

Whether we’re talking about teens or adults, braces are extremely common throughout the world. And given their proven teeth straightening abilities, it’s easy to understand the benefits of getting braces. However, many usually consider restrictions on eating food. While eating with braces does have its limitations, you can still have a well-balanced, nutritious diet while still having the foods you love. However, it’s important to consider what to eat with braces and the top foods to avoid so you don’t run into any costly issues down the road.

Feast on the Following with Braces

Once you feel those wires around your teeth for the first time, it can feel restricting when eating with braces. Once you get used to the orthodontic treatment, its easy want to go back to consuming the same types of foods you had before—but that’s where you should take a pause. If you have braces, it’s best to eat the following foods for a nutritious, yet still delicious diet:

Soft Fruit

If you have braces, you can't go wrong with eating most types of fruit (as long as they’re of the softer variety). From strawberries and blueberries to oranges and pineapple, these fruits are considered safe for your braces.

However, there are a number of fruits you should avoid—and we’ll discuss those later on. But for now, just know that soft fruits are just fine to eat and leave you with the peace of mind you deserve. Fruit is a healthy treat that will keep you and your braces happy and healthy.

Cooked Vegetables

Cooked vegetables are another fantastic food option for those eating with braces. The reason being – raw vegetables are naturally hard, making them a nightmare for your braces. Not only can they become stuck in your braces, but they can also cause brackets to loosen or detach from your tooth.

A great way to soften vegetables is by steaming them, but you can also boil them or cook them in the microwave for a quick solution.

Tender Meats

As you've probably already guessed, you’ll want to enjoy softer, more tender meats to keep your braces intact. The tougher the meat, the more discomfort you’ll have—not to mention the annoyance of having food stuck in your braces and damage to your orthodontic treatment.

For tender, scrumptious meats, try fish, lean pork or beef, and chicken. Additionally, it’s best to cut these meats into small, bite-sized pieces for easier chewing.


Many dairy products are soft – yogurt, cheese, etc. which make them perfect options for eating with braces. Plus, they are packed with calcium. Calcium is proven to support healthy teeth, and strong teeth are key for any dental treatment, including braces. If you decide to eat cheeses that seem to be a little harder, make sure to cut them into tiny pieces in order to chew them more easily.

Avoid These

Now that you know what’s okay to eat with braces, now you should understand what not to eat. Many of the following food items can still be eaten with braces, but it’s important to prepare them properly and know that you’re risking the chance of having a broken wire, bracket or other issues, which will require an expected trip to your orthodontist. While you may love the foods listed below, you will need to hold off and make some sacrifices to have that perfect smile you’ve been waiting for. Do your best to avoid these foods:

Hard Candy

Let's face it, most of us enjoy a good piece of candy from time to time. However, if you have braces, most candy is definitely something to avoid. While you may think that soft, chewy candy should be fine, these sticky sweets tend to get stuck in your braces more often than not.

Hard candy, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your braces and many times cause a broken bracket or wire. So, leave the hard peppermints and caramels in the candy bowl for now.

Certain Fruits

Although many fruits are okay to eat with braces, there are some types of fruit that should be avoided. However, how you prepare them also plays a big role. Here are some examples:

  • Apples tend to be very harsh on braces but slicing them into small pieces is a great way to still enjoy them.
  • Blackberries are another type of fruit you should stay away from given their hard seeds.
  • Unripe pears and peaches can also pose some issues, but these can also be cut into small pieces for your enjoyment.

Raw Vegetables

While we all enjoy a good veggie tray from time to time, these hard, raw vegetables can be damaging to your braces. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower—all are very healthy, but not so healthy for your braces. So, if you enjoy eating a lot of vegetables, make sure to cook them beforehand. You can also cook them in other dishes such as casseroles and pasta to soften them.


Nuts are another type of food group that should not be eaten with braces. Peanuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts - not only are they very hard, but they can also easily become stuck around your braces. In addition, given the small size of most nuts, a broken bracket or wire is extremely possible when chewing these.

Bone-In Meats

Consuming meat with bones can very damaging if you bite down on them with braces on. Foods such as chicken wings, boney fish, and pork spare ribs. However, it is still possible to eat the meat, as long as it is removed prior to mealtime.

OrthoCare Orthodontics is Here to Help

While it’s important to understand what foods to eat and what foods to avoid when wearing braces, it’s also vital to choose a great orthodontist. There may be a time when you consume the wrong food and break a bracket or wire. Our team at OrthoCare Orthodontics is here to help.

From our friendly and experienced staff to our professional, top-notch services, we’re here to offer the best orthodontic treatment in the greater Charlotte area. If you’re looking to get started with braces, call us today to take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of our four practice locations. Contact us to make an appointment!

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