Aline Orthodontics » Patient Guide

Patient Guide

Life with Braces

How braces work:

Braces are the combination of brackets, bands and wires that collectively move your teeth. Bands are rings that are fitted around your molars and brackets are glued to the front of each of your teeth. The wire connects all of these brackets and bands together to move your teeth.

Foods to avoid:

Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
Sticky foods: caramels, gum
Hard foods: nuts, lollies
Chewing on hard things (for example ice cubes, pens, pencils, or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.
You can still eat foods you have to bite into (i.e. corn on the cob, apples, carrots), just be sure to cut them up first.


It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. In the absence of being able to floss, inter-proximal brushes are a quick substitute! Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. Risks of decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath and swollen gums are all attributed to poor oral hygiene habits. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

Treatment time:

Orthodontic treatment lasts typically between 18-24 months, but this time is dependent on many factors, including keeping appointments, avoiding damage to your braces and wearing elastics as requested.

Wearing elastics:

Throughout treatment, you may be asked to wear elastic bands. The success of these elastics is completely dependent on you, so be sure to wear them in the prescribed manner at all times.

General soreness:

When you get your separators or braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. If the tenderness is severe, take Panadol or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. During this time, you may want to avoid tough or chewy foods. The lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one week as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this, we’ll show you how. Soon you will be so used to your braces; you’ll forget you have them on!


The frequency of your orthodontic appointments will be between 6-8 weeks. The reason for this is that each time the doctor sees you; they will make an adjustment to your braces and wires. The following 6-8 weeks allows your teeth time to move accordingly.

Playing sports:

We encourage you to continue participating in all sports and activities while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended that you wear a mouthguard in order to protect your teeth and your appliance. A standard mouldable mouthguard found at your local chemist will suffice for low risk sports, but for high risk sports (ie. Rugby or AFL), a custom fitted mouthguard by your dentist will provide maximum protection.
In case of a sports emergency, be sure to immediately check your mouth and your appliance for any damage that may have occurred. If you notice any loose teeth, or if your appliance has been damaged, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort with wax as necessary.


After your braces are removed, we will retainers to maintain your teeth in their corrected positions. These retainers can either be removable or glued behind your front teeth. They will be worn full time for the first 2 months following the removal of your braces, but will be reduced as your teeth settle into their positions. Most of this required wear will be during sleeping hours only. We encourage you to wear these retainers for as long as possible to prevent any physiological movements.

Fixed Retainers:

This is a thin piece of wire glued behind the front teeth to keep them in position. If you have a fixed retainer in place it is important to avoid biting into hard foods that my damage the retainer. In addition, it is imperative that the retainer be kept immaculately clean to avoid gum disease. This type of retainer is intended to stay in place for as many years as possible to prevent future physiological movement of these teeth. Once you are no longer visiting our office for check-up appointments, it is important to continue to see your general dentist for regular cleanings and monitoring of this retainer.

Wisdom teeth:

These are molars that erupt at approximately 18-20 years of age. For this reason, we monitor their progress throughout your treatment and will make recommendations accordingly.


Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth which moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.

Archwire: The metal wire that guides your teeth into the correct positions. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as your teeth move towards your perfect smile.

Band: A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth, going completely around it.

Bond: The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliances in place.

Bracket: A metal or ceramic appliance specially glued (“bonded”) to your tooth that holds your archwire in place. All of your brackets and archwires are collectively called braces.

Coil Spring: A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.

Elastic (Rubber Band): A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your braces to improve the fit of upper and lower teeth. 99% of all patients with braces will be asked to wear elastics at some point in their treatment – without elastics, we can’t create your perfect smile!

Elastic Module: The coloured rubber band or donut that fits around your bracket that connects the archwire to the bracket.

Hook: A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached on each bracket.

Mouthguard: A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.

Retainer: A retainer maintains, or retains, the position of your teeth after your orthodontic treatment is completed. Retainers can be fixed, or glued to the inside of your teeth, or can be removable. A customized retainer schedule will be prescribed for you to ensure that your teeth remain exactly the same as the day your braces were removed! We recommend wearing your retainers for as long as possible to prevent any physiological movement and maintain the ideal positioning of your teeth.

Separator or Spacer: A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are fitted.

Wax: Wax can be used to reduce irritation from braces in the early stages of treatment.

Braces Diagram

Braces Diagram

True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.