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Braces FAQs

Will my child need braces? This is an important question for parents to consider as their children grow. However, for parents who have never had braces themselves, or who haven’t undertaken the orthodontics journey with a child before, knowing if and when to pursue orthodontics can be challenging. While braces are an important and often necessary part of a child’s oral health, there are many questions that arise when considering braces for kids & adults. Consider our top FAQs about braces for additional insight and help your child achieve a healthy smile!


What are Separators or Spacers?
Also called spacers or seps. Separators are small blue rubber bands. They are placed to create spaces between your teeth in order to fit orthodontic bands. Separators or “Seps” may make your teeth sore for a couple of days. Tylenol will help with the discomfort.

Can I still eat regular foods?
No. Avoid sticky and chewy foods (such as; gum, caramel, taffy, ect.) because they will pull seps out.

How will brushing be different?
Be sure to brush around seps. Do not play with or floss around the seps or your will pull them out.

What should I do if the Separators come out?
We give each patient a separator kit, which consist of two pieces of floss, and blue rubber bands.

How does the Sep Kit work?
Take the two pieces of floss and thread it through each side of the rubber band, then pull the floss outward to where the blue rubber band is being pulled from each end. Next all you have to do is floss the blue rubber band between your teeth.



Why are elastics (rubber bands) needed?
Elastics or rubber bands or inter-arch rubber bands. Elastics are utilized to correct the improper fit of the upper and lower teeth rather than “straightening” the teeth.

How often should the elastics be worn?
24 hours per day for the correction to occur in a timely manner. Even leaving the elastics out for a short period of time (such as mealtime) may cause a setback of 8-10 hours in the biomechanical movement of the teeth. The elastics should be replaced at least once a day.

What if I run out of elastics?
Please drop by the office to pick up a package or call the office and we will mail them to you.

What if I don’t know how to wear the elastics?
If there is any confusion, please call the office. The following diagram may aid in communication on where to attach the elastics


Bite Plane

Why do I need a bite plane?
The bite plane may protect your upper teeth so that they are not biting on the lower braces. It also aids in the correction of the vertical discrepancy of your malocclusion.

How often should the bite plane be worn?
Bite Planes are to be worn 24 hours/day. This appliance should be worn while eating and sleeping. The bite plane is to be taken out only when brushing your teeth and cleaning the appliance.

Will the bite plane affect my speech?
It may affect your speech temporarily. Reading aloud will help solve any speech problems.

Any advice on eating with my bite plane?
Yes. It will be very difficult to eat any food which requires extensive chewing such as steak or pork chops. Chicken, fish, and pasta will be much easier to eat. Please cut up your food into small pieces. Eating a large sandwich such as a “Big Mac” requires tearing off pieces and putting them in your mouth rather than biting into the sandwich.

Is it possible to break my bite plane?
Yes! DO NOT PLAY with your bite plane. Simply leave it in place or you may end up with a loose or broken bite plane (there is a replacement fee for lost or broken bite planes).

How do I clean my bite plane?
Brush your bite plane at least once a day with toothpaste. This will help to keep your appliance bacteria free. Diluted white vinegar may also be used to clean the appliance. Following these instructions will help in finishing your treatment on schedule.



Why do I need a retainer?
To maintain your beautiful smile. Teeth may continue to move since they are supported by living tissue. The retention phase of your treatment which is as important as the active phase of treatment.

How often should retainers be worn?
Normally, retainers are to be worn 24 Hours/Day for the first 3 months, 14 Hrs/Day for the following 3 months and then 8 Hrs/Day.

Do I really have to wear my retainer all the time?
You may take your retainer out of your mouth when eating meals but may need to leave in place when eating snacks.

Will the retainer affect my speech?
It may affect your speech temporarily. Reading aloud will help solve any speech problems.

Is it easy to lose my retainer?
Yes. DO NOT place your retainer in a napkin (or on a lunch tray) as this is how many retainers are lost (there is a replacement fee for new retainers). When retainer is out of your mouth, DO place it in your retainer case so it is easy to find, and discourages damage by pets.

Is it possible to break my retainer?
Yes. Do not play with your retainer. Simply leave it in place or you may end up with a loose or broken retainer.

How do I clean my retainer?
Brush your retainer at least once a day with toothpaste (without whitener). Acrylic retainers (not invisible) may be cleaned with Efferdent tablets. Diluted white vinegar may also be used to clean the appliance. It is important to make sure your retainer is kept clean and bacteria free.

What do I need to know about the permanent retainer?
Floss If you have a bonded retainer, be sure to floss under the wire. Floss threaders or super floss can help with this. You’ve got a great smile, let’s make sure you keep it!


Splint (CRS) or Nightguard

What is a muscle relaxation splint (or CRS)?
This is an acrylic appliance (or orthotic) which fits on the upper or lower teeth and can be adjusted to compensate for any bite discrepancies. Such an appliance will help to relax the facial muscles and take some of the stress off the “TMJ”.

Will the splint affect my speech?
It may affect your speech temporarily. Reading aloud will help solve any speech problems.

How often should the splint be worn?
Most commonly, it is worn on a full time basis for approximately 3 months. It is usually taken out during mealtime.

What is a Nightguard?
An appliance very similar to a splint which is worn at night for patients who have a bruxism (grinding) habit or are experiencing significant wear of their teeth.

How do I clean the splint or Nightguard?
Brush your appliance at least once a day with toothpaste (without whitener). This will help to keep it bacteria free and looking like new.

Is the splint expensive to replace?
Yes. When the splint (or nightguard) is out of your mouth, please place it in your case so it is easy to find, less prone to breakage and discourages damage by pets.

How can my child manage discomfort?

Your child may experience soreness and discomfort for up to a week after their braces are put on. Though this is expected given the added pressure applied to the mouth, this discomfort will subside. To help your child better manage any pain or soreness in the meantime, they may take over-the-counter pain medication as recommended by Dr. Larkin and eat soft foods like soup, mashed potatoes, and pasta. Children should also avoid chewing gum and biting into hard textures.

What can I expect on my first visit for braces?

A child’s first visit for braces will be for consultation purposes only. X-rays will be taken to help the dentist make decisions about if and when braces are needed. Some initial visits will involve the creation of a mouth mold, which is made using a gel-filled tray. Children can also expect that a first trip for braces may involve inspection of the teeth and gums, and general questions about any problems chewing or biting. At the end of a first visit, if it’s determined a child will need braces, a parent may make an appointment to begin treatment.

What foods can I eat with braces?

Kids with braces will find that immediately after their braces are put on, it will be easiest to eat foods soft in texture, like applesauce, macaroni, and pudding. This may be the case after each time adjustments are made, too. Any foods that could loosen the wires of braces, such as gum, nuts, or beef jerky, should also be avoided or limited. Foods like corn on the cob or popcorn, which can easily get stuck between the wires of braces, may also be inconvenient to eat.

What should oral hygiene look like with braces?

Kids who wear braces are at a higher risk of developing tartar and gingivitis as a result of food that can collect around the brackets and wires of braces. Kids should increase the frequency of brushing as needed and ensure that flossing occurs at least once a day. Though flossing is more difficult with braces, it can be accomplished with special threading floss. Mouthwashes and toothpastes designed to help fight these diseases may also be warranted.

Is your child ready for braces? If so, our orthodontist Dr. Ron Yarbrough is available to consult with you and your child about their eligibility for braces. All Children’s Dentistry is happy to answer any questions you may have about the process! Contact us today!

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