Care Instructions

We encourage every new patient to review the information below – and return as often as needed to keep your treatment on-track.


When we first apply your braces, your teeth are likely to feel sore for several days. Also, sometimes during treatment, your tongue or cheeks can become temporarily irritated. Tylenol or Advil should relieve the discomfort. However, if anything sharp creates unusual pain, or if sores develop that don’t heal, please contact us.

Weekly Self-Checks
Inspect your braces once a week to be sure no parts are loose or bent. If a bracket or band becomes loose, or if you break a wire, contact us, so we can arrange a brief appointment to repair the problem. Please be as specific as possible when you describe your situation to the receptionist, so she can respond appropriately. Also, if you lose your rubber bands, contact us immediately. We’ll mail replacements to you, or you can pick-up a fresh supply at our office – whatever you prefer.

Eating Habits
Always use common sense when choosing foods during treatment. It’s important to avoid hard, chewy and sticky foods that might break your brackets or wires (see food guidelines below). Also, remember that by nourishing yourself, you’ll promote bone growth and gum health, and you’ll protect tooth enamel from cavities.

It’s equally important to curb habits such as nail biting and pen or pencil chewing, because this can damage your braces.


Existing patients

Scrupulous dental hygiene is an essential aspect of your treatment, because braces make it much more difficult to keep your teeth clean. Food easily compacts inside the brackets and between your teeth. If you don’t pay attention, plaque can form on your teeth – causing decay, gum disease or permanent white discolorations.

The only way to remove food residue and plaque is by brushing properly after every meal and flossing daily.

HOW TO BRUSH: Applying firm pressure with a soft toothbrush, make small circular patterns above and below each bracket, at a 45-degree angle to your teeth. (Click here for visual instructions.) Be prepared to replace toothbrushes more frequently – whenever the bristles become frayed.

SPECIAL TOOLS: A Waterpik can be a useful addition to your manual routine, but it doesn’t remove the sticky plaque that adheres to teeth. Interplak or Braun/Oral-B electric toothbrushes are excellent. They clean teeth very thoroughly, when used as directed. Also, if you have difficulties handling floss directly, we recommend reusable floss threaders.

Elastics (rubber bands) attach to your braces – exerting gentle, constant pressure that slowly moves teeth into correct position. For the force to remain constant, you must wear elastics continuously, and change them 3-4 times a day. If elastics aren’t always in place, you’re treatment is likely to be prolonged. For best results, follow these guidelines:

  • Remove elastics ONLY when brushing your teeth, gums and braces after meals. Replace them immediately afterward.
  • ALWAYS carry a few extra elastics with you, so if one breaks you can replace it right away. If your supply runs low between regular orthodontic visits, contact us. We’ll mail you more, upon request.
  • If you forget to insert elastics, DON’T double-up the next day. Instead, return to your regular routine. (However, if you miss several days, please tell Dr. Quinn at your next appointment. It’s important to keep him aware of any deviation from your treatment plan.)
  • Contact us immediately if:
    • Your elastics frequently break
    • A wire or band seems loose, or
    • A hook breaks.
  • Don’t wait until your next appointment. These problems should be corrected as soon as possible, to keep your treatment moving forward smoothly.
  • Even if elastics don’t break, they eventually wear out. When they lose elasticity, they no longer promote proper movement in your teeth and jaws. Therefore, it’s essential to change elastics as directed.


Orthodontic headgear is a very important part of treatment for some young patients with underbite problems. problems. Headgear attaches to your braces, creating forces that guide facial and jaw growth.

For best results, you must wear headgear consistently, as directed. If you don’t follow usage instructions, we may need to extend your treatment process or alter the corrective procedures.

  • ALWAYS remove your headgear carefully.
  • NEVER try to remove headgear until you’ve disconnected the elastics holding it to your braces.
  • NEVER wear headgear when running or playing sports.
  • ALWAYS bring headgear to your appointments. If the apparatus becomes soiled, Dr. Quinn will explain how to clean it.


Once the “active” phase of your treatment is complete, you’ll need to wear a retainer until your underlying bone, gums and muscles become accustomed to the new location of your teeth. This retention period is a vital part of your overall treatment. Neglect it, and you may jeopardize your new, healthy smile! Dr. Quinn will determine exactly how often you need to wear your retainer, as well as the total length of time you’ll need to wear it:

  • Remember to wear your retainer in your mouth, not in your pocket. Retainers really work if you follow our instructions.
  • Keep your retainer clean! After meals, clean all parts of the device with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Handle your retainer with care. Retainers are easy to lose – and they can break. When you remove your retainer, always place it in the proper storage case.


Removable appliances are custom-fitted to shift your teeth or to hold them in place. Because it’s easy to remove this type of device, you might be tempted not to wear it exactly as Dr. Quinn prescribes. However, it’s important to resist this temptation. Otherwise, your teeth could return to their original position. Additional recommendations:

  • Initially, your eating and speaking may be affected, and you may notice an increase in the flow of saliva. However, these symptoms will soon diminish as you adjust to the appliance – usually within 2-3 days.
  • Your new appliance may make your teeth sore for several days – especially after an adjustment. If a persistent sore spot develops on your gums, contact us so we can help you remedy the problem.
  • Wear your appliance at all times, even when you’re asleep. You may remove it briefly only to eat, swim or participate in vigorous sports.
  • Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. For a more thorough cleaning, you may prefer to use denture cleaner. NEVER boil your retainer to sterilize it. If needed, bring it to the office and we’ll gladly disinfect it for you.
  • Don’t forget to floss daily. If you’re wearing a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, be sure to carefully clean the wire, as well as the surrounding area.
  • ALWAYS keep your appliance in its storage case when it’s not in your mouth. Never wrap it in a paper napkin or tissue, then set it on a table – it could accidentally be tossed in the trash. Also, don’t carry it “unprotected” in your pocket – you could break it or lose it.
  • Keep your appliance away from dogs and cats – they often mistake appliances for chew toys.
  • Avoid storing appliances near any source of heat – it may warp the plastic.
  • Avoid flipping the appliance with your tongue – this can damage your teeth or break the appliance.
  • If you lose or damage an appliance, you’ll need to pay for repairs or replacement.

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