diagram of parts of braces

Braces at Swan Orthodontics

Orthodontic appliances need to be cared for properly in order for them to be effective. With careful monitoring by Dr. Swan, optimal oral hygiene, and great at-home compliance, you’ll have the smile you’ve always wanted in no time.

From your first visit on, you'll notice the difference between Swan Orthodontics and other practices in the Grand Rapids area. Our friendly staff will be there to greet you and take you through the new patient process. We'll offer an office tour, a free consultation, and a customized treatment plan.

After you discuss the treatment plan with Dr. Swan, she'll answer any questions you may have. We'll discuss the cost of treatment and offer several affordable payment options. If you're ready to begin treatment the same day, we are too.

Your orthodontic treatment is designed for you, so the length of your treatment will depend on your treatment stage and what treatments are needed. On average, patients are in braces about 12 to 24 months for comprehensive treatment. During active treatment, we will want to see you every four to eight weeks for checkups, wire changes and adjustments.


The Parts of Braces

There are many different parts to your new braces:


  • Archwire: The main wires, or archwires, are shaped specifically to fit around the arch into the bracket slots. Teeth move from the pressure that is applied by the braces. That pressure comes from the archwire, which guides the direction of movement.
  • Band: Bands are a ring of metal, which fit around the molars and sometimes premolars and are cemented into place.
  • Bracket: The bracket is the square metal attachment that holds the archwire against each tooth with the help of the color tie or o-tie. Brackets are bonded to each tooth by using light-activated cement.
  • Color Tie (O tie): A color tie also called an O tie is a tiny rubber ring that secures the archwire into the bracket slot.
  • Hook: Hooks are small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics (rubber bands).


Moving Wires or Bands

Wires, brackets, and bands are used to gently correct the placement of teeth over time and are meant to stay in place. If you notice that a wire or band is moving, please call our office immediately. If you do not address the issue right away, it could delay progress and extend your treatment time.


Eating with Braces

While it may be hard to get used to, changing the foods you eat for a few months will give you a beautiful smiles for a lifetime.

Foods to Enjoy

You can enjoy a variety of softer foods including but not limited to:

  • Dairy: pudding, soft cheeses, ice cream, ice cream, peanut butter cups
  • Breads: sliced lunch bread, soft tortillas, muffins without nuts, biscuits
  • Meats/ Poultry: Soft-cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Fruits: Applesauce, bananas, fruit juice, strawberries, grapes
  • Other: Eggs, hotdogs, hamburgers, chili, beans, O-Ke-Doke Popcorn (the husks are removed)

Crunchy foods, like apples, carrots, celery, pizza crust, potato chips, and taco shells, can be cut up into small bite-sized pieces.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid crunchy, sticky, chewy, and hard foods including:

  • Hard foods: popcorn, nuts, pretzels, ice, hard candy, and jerky
  • Sticky foods:  taffy, caramels, skittles, starburst, fruit rollups, gum, gummy vitamins, and chewy candy
  • Sugary foods

You should also avoid thumb sucking, and chewing on nails and pen caps, which can cause damage.

Decalcification is the irreversible white staining that occurs on teeth that have not been cared for properly. Drinking sweetened beverages while in braces can contribute to this process, so make sure to rinse with water or brush after drinking sports drinks, flavored milk, flavored water, energy drinks or soda.


Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is a large part of maintaining your appliance. Brushing and flossing will take more time and effort with an appliance in your mouth, but the end results will make it worth it.

Brushing and flossing with braces can be very difficult, but needs to be done after every meal and snack to prevent discoloration, decay, and bacteria build up. It should be done a minimum of three times a day for at least two minutes, preferably with an electronic toothbrush. If plaque is not removed, it can cause swollen gums, bad breath, decay, and decalcification.

Make sure you brush above and below the brackets as well as the gum line. Brush a second time if you still see plaque. Use a small proxy brush for hard to reach areas. Floss at least once a day using a floss threader under the wires and between each tooth, all the way down to the gum line. Be careful not to pull the wire when removing the floss.

Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you everywhere so you do not miss brushing your teeth after meals. If you happen to forget your toothbrush and toothpaste, at a minimum swish with water after every meal and snack.


Dealing with Discomfort

Braces are meant to move teeth, so if you notice that your teeth are more wiggly than usual, this is expected. However, if you feel a tooth is excessively wiggly, feel free to address the concern with us.

When wires and bands are first placed, they may make your mouth tender because they are encouraging your teeth to move. Over time, your teeth will shift into place, and will become comfortable.

If you find your braces are uncomfortable, try an over-the-counter headache medication and dental wax to remove the discomfort.


Keeping Appointments

It's crucial that you come into our Grand Rapids orthodontic office for your follow-up visits. We carefully monitor your progress, as well as your overall oral care, to ensure that you will end up with the intended results. If you delay or miss appointments, it can lead to extended care time and negative results.