Two common issues that affect those who wear braces

Orthodontics (or braces, as they are more commonly known) use continuous, gentle pressure to reposition crooked or overlapping teeth. They can improve not only the appearance of a person's smile but also their ability to chew their food properly and speak clearly. However, this type of dental appliance can cause certain problems. Here are two of the most common.

Oral irritation and soreness

For a week or two after a person is first fitted with a set of braces, they may experience oral irritation and soreness. This pain may also reoccur each time they have their braces adjusted (adjustment appointments usually involve tightening, re-positioning or bending the arch wire of the braces). Whilst this type of discomfort is not cause for concern, it can make daily activities, such as talking and eating, quite difficult.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, can help to ease the soreness. Most orthodontists will also recommend that their patients stick to soft-textured foods, such as soup, mashed potato and yoghurt, for a day or two after an appointment, as eating crunchy or chewy foods can exacerbate the person's existing soreness.

Irritation of the mouth is usually caused by the wires of the tightened braces rubbing against the person's tongue, as well as the inside of their lips and cheeks. This pain can be alleviated by applying a small amount of orthodontic wax over the section of the braces which are touching the mouth. The wax acts as a barrier which prevents further irritation.

Gum disease

A person who wears braces will be far more susceptible to the development of gum disease than someone who has never worn this type of dental appliance. This is because it is very easy for tiny pieces of food to become stuck behind the brace's brackets. If it is not removed, bacterial plaque will feed on this food and subsequently produce acids which will erode the enamel of the teeth and inflame the gums. Eventually, this may lead to tooth loss.

To prevent this from happening, those who wear orthodontics need to be fastidious about their oral hygiene routines. They should brush their teeth after eating any type of meal (even if it's just small snack) and floss at least once a day. They may also need to use mouthwash once or twice each day, to rinse away food particles that may have become lodged in or around the brackets of their braces. Additionally, they should avoid consuming meals which are high in sugar or carbohydrates, as these are the type of foods that bacterial plaque thrive on.