Frequently Asked Questions


What should I eat while I have braces?

Establishing a good diet is important for the overall health of your teeth during orthodontic treatment. This includes avoiding sticky, hard, chewy foods such as candy and nuts as well as damaging drinks such as soda and juices. You can still enjoy plenty of delicious meals and snacks!

How can I keep my braces clean?

It is important to keep your teeth and gingiva (gums) clean during orthodontic treatment to avoid staining. Bacteria (dental plaque) often sticks to teeth (especially by the gum line and between the teeth). Adding brackets to your teeth creates more surfaces that the bacteria can stick to. This is why it is important to brush your teeth regularly and often, especially in the morning, at night and after eating. We recommend products, such as a water flosser and plaque-detecting toothpastes, such as PlaqueHD, that are helpful in your care for your braces.

Life With Braces

Your treatment at Carlson Orthodontics may only take half the time it would take at other orthodontic practices, but there are still a few things you should know about wearing braces. For the most part, wearing braces won’t change your daily life, but here are some helpful guidelines to help you make your time in braces the best it can be.

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line and on your brackets and wires. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, including between teeth, on the surface of each tooth and around each bracket and wire. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:
  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime
Brushing the brackets and wires can cause your toothbrush to wear more quickly than before braces. If you notice the bristles starting to bend or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste as you brush, and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

It is very important to floss between your teeth every day. A floss threader with a stiff end will help you push the floss under your archwire. Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

What to Eat:
For the most part, you’ll be able to eat many of the same foods you’ve eaten before. The general rule is to avoid things that are hard, sticky, gummy or chewy, to prevent breaking the bond that holds the brackets on the teeth.

Click HERE for a more detailed list that you can print.

Home Care

General Soreness: Sometimes you’ll feel some soreness as your teeth move - especially right after an orthodontic appointment. Some Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen will do the trick. You can also get some relief by having a cold drink. As a matter of fact, this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a milkshake and tell ‘em your orthodontist said so :-).

Broken Bracket:
If you break a bracket or bend/break your wire, place the bracket in an envelope so you can bring it to the office. In the event of a broken bracket, you should call the office to let us know and schedule an appointment for our next business day. If you have an appointment already scheduled, please call us anyway, as your appointment will need to be adjusted to make time for the repair.

Loose Wire:
For a poking wire, bend it carefully, moving it away from your cheek, and cover the end with some wax (which we’ll be happy to provide). Wax can also be purchased in the dental section of your local drug store.

First Few Days

  • Soreness is common for the first few days
  • Ibuprofen or Tylenol can help with relief - take as needed
  • It will take about a week for your mouth to adjust and get use to the braces

Orthodontic Wax and Mouth Rinses

  • You may develop irritation as you adjust to the braces
  • Wax can be used to help make the brackets feel smooth or to cover a poking wire
  • Wax is always available at our brushing stations
  • Rincinol can be used to heal and soothe irritation


  • Brush for at least 3 minutes, 3 times a day
  • Brush after each meal if possible
  • Massage gums in a gentle, circular motion
  • Make sure to get all the angles around the brackets and teeth and along the gumline
  • We recommend an electric toothbrush and waterpik

Plaque HD Toothpaste

How It Works
  • Place a small amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush - brush normally.
  • Continue to look in the mirror as you are brushing, making sure to remove all traces of green/teal color.
  • Once you've thoroughly brushed and rinsed, the color will be brushed away and so will the plaque!
  • Smile and feel confident you have done a great job brushing!


  • Thread the floss through the floss threader
  • Use the threader to pull the floss behind the wire and between the teeth
  • Floss between each tooth
  • Flossing once a day, everyday will help keep gum tissues from swelling and reduce the risk of decalcification

Other Helpful Tools To Help With Oral Hygiene

  • Proxy brushes are helpful for those “hard to reach” areas that your toothbrush can’t get to
  • Disclosing tablets are helpful to see areas you may need to focus more on while brushing

Fluoride Mouthwash

  • Fluoride helps prevent demineralization
  • Rinse for 1 minute after brushing and flossing, 2 times a day
  • Do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after rinsing to allow the fluoride to work


  • This is PERMANENT tooth damage caused by poor oral hygiene, sugary foods, and drinking acidic beverages.
  • Drinking too many acidic drinks or drinks with a lot of sugar in them can cause tooth decay and decalcification

What to Expect

  • To get the correction desired, you will need to wear your aligners all day and all night
  • Take them out to eat, drink and brush
  • The only thing you should drink with your trays in is water
  • Expect the trays to feel tight for the first few days when switching to a new tray
  • You may experience some soreness initially- eating softer foods may help
  • Take Tylenol or ibuprofen as needed


  • Attachments - small tooth colored anchors designed to have more control on teeth for certain movement types
  • IPR (Interproximal Reduction)- a type of polishing we do in office to help create extra room around specific teeth to allow for desired movement.

Inserting your Invisalign® Aligners

  • When placing your aligners, start at the front and work your way back. Gently push your aligners down onto your teeth.
  • Do not bite your aligners in place, this can cause your aligners to bend or break


  • Use chewies to “seat” tray completely
  • Use especially when switching to a new tray
  • Place between teeth with trays in and hold for 10 seconds
  • Move to a new location and hold
  • Use 3-4 times a day until tray seats fully
  • These are reusable

Removing Your Aligners

  • Before removing trays please wash or sanitize hands!
  • Begin at the back of your mouth. Use your fingernail on the inside of the tray (along the roof of your mouth) catch the top edge of tray and pull in a downward motion.
  • This will release the tray. Do this on both sides and pull down and forward gently over each tooth and attachment.

Homecare Instructions

  • Clean your aligners on a daily basis using your toothbrush and water. You may also use the cleaning crystals that come with the Invisalign® start up kit.
  • Always wash hands before removing trays
  • Rinse your aligners with water as soon as they are removed throughout the day
  • Please keep them safe in the case when they are not in your mouth


  • If the doctor asks you to wear elastics please wear them as instructed - either all the time or just at night
  • If you are not wearing them as instructed it may delay treatment
  • If you break your elastic buttons or carriere appliance please stop wearing the rubber bands on both sides until we are able to repair
  • Please call and let us know if it is broken so we can get it repaired!
  • We can send you elastic in the mail anytime if you need more!

Lost/Broken Tray/Attachment Broke?

  • If you break or lose current tray please move to next set of trays (example - lose tray 5 in the top, move to tray 6 in the top and bottom)
  • If tray is not seating/fitting please call office for further instruction
  • If an attachment breaks or comes off in tray please stay in current tray and let the office know. Do not keep advancing in trays until attachment is put back on. Please bring current tray to next appointment to fix attachment


  • There will be 1 to 2 refinements through your treatment where you will wear the same trays for about 6 weeks before receiving your new ones
  • We will remove attachments, take new pictures and a 3D scan so the doctors can design a new plan and new trays
New Patient FAQ

When should a child have an orthodontic evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children get an orthodontic check up no later than the age of 7. This is when most adult permanent molars and some front teeth begin to erupt, and also when issues with growth and development of the jaws become more apparent. Even though most people think of pre-teens and teens when they think of orthodontics, there are good reasons your child should get an orthodontic evaluation sooner. Although most children do not need early orthodontics (Phase I of treatment), at our office, we offer Growth and Development Evaluations at this age free of charge so that our doctors can monitor development and detect potential issues before they have a chance to become more serious.

Why is it important to select an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who have two to three years of additional training after dental school to be able to correctly diagnose and treat dental and skeletal irregularities. Our doctors' expertise not only allows us to create beautiful smiles but to ensure optimal bite correction and function. Only those with additional specialty education may call themselves “orthodontists” due to the high level training involved to properly treat orthodontic patients.

What causes orthodontic problems?

Most orthodontic problems are usually inherited from a family member, such as crowding, spacing, extra or missing teeth, underbites, protrusion, periodontal disease and jaw growth issues. However, some malocclusions can be created by things such as finger or thumb sucking, accidents, early or late loss of baby teeth, chronic mouth breathing, premature birth or other causes.

Can adults benefit from orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is becoming more popular for adults; one of every four orthodontic patients is over the age of 18. Today’s latest technologies offer smaller, less visible and more comfortable orthodontic appliances, from ceramic braces to Invisalign®. Adults are finding treatment more appealing.

Why is orthodontic treatment so important?

Orthodontic treatment is important for many reasons. Misalignment of the teeth and jaws can cause abnormal wear on tooth surfaces, difficulty chewing and/or speaking, and excessive stress on supporting bone and gum tissues. Without treatment, many of these issues will need more-extensive dental treatment later in life. Facial esthetics and the positions of the lips can also be improved with orthodontic treatment. Crooked and crowded teeth are not aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly they are harder to clean and maintain. Orthodontics is more than just straightening teeth; it can provide the foundation for proper tooth, jaw and lip support.

How long will orthodontic treatment take?

The length of orthodontic treatment ultimately depends on the severity of the dental issues, such as bite and crowding or compliance and goals of treatment. Usually orthodontic treatment lasts from 1 to 3 years, which can be determined through a free consultation with our doctors.
Existing Patient FAQ

Eating with Braces

  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods like Gummy Bears, Laffy Taffy, Tootsie Rolls, Caramels, etc.
  • Avoid hard and crunchy foods like Jolly Ranchers, popcorn, ice
  • Modify foods such as whole apples, raw vegetables, corn on the cob, jerky, etc.
  • Avoid chewing on pens, pencils, and biting fingernails

At Home Care

  • Broken brackets sometimes need to be fixed right away. Other times they can wait until your next visit. Call our office if a bracket comes loose and we will walk you through the necessary steps
  • Most minor problems can be fixed at home. Our website has great tips to help if you aren’t able to call or get in right away
  • Most things ARE NOT an Emergency - emergencies include not being able to open or close your mouth or extreme irritation due to braces

Your General Dentist

You should continue with your regular exams and cleanings with your general dentist.


  • It is important to wear a mouthguard when participating in sports
  • We provide a special mouthguard that fits over the braces
  • We don’t want you wearing a “form-fitted” mouthguard because of the movements that are going on while in braces


Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.

We understand emergencies come up. As a courtesy to all our patients, if you are late we can only see you for the amount of time left of your scheduled appointment.


Frequent missed, changed or cancelled appointments may extend total estimated treatment time.

You will lose points on your smile club card if you break more than 3 brackets during your treatment.

Please follow this link to check out your points on our rewards hub!
We can't wait to meet you!