Patient resources


Broken brackets

A broken bracket occurs when one of the brackets that was bonded to your tooth is no longer attached. Sometimes it will slide along the arch wire and other times it will come out of your mouth completely. (If it does, don’t throw it away! Put it in a plastic baggie, and bring it with you to your appointment!)

If you break a bracket, call our office to schedule an appointment to rebond the bracket to your tooth. Typically Dr. Duffy would like to have the bracket fixed within five days to keep your treatment progressing. If this happens over the weekend, just call us Monday morning.

​Even if you are scheduled for an appointment (Yes, even the same day!), call the office to inform us! When we schedule your appointment, we have set aside the time and instruments needed to take care of you and your smile! If you arrive with a broken bracket and we’re not aware of it, we won’t be prepared to take care of you – and we hate being unprepared (like a pop quiz with no pen)! Not only do we not have the instruments ready, we haven’t allowed enough time. We know how valuable your time is and want to make sure we take care of you on time!

We know you don’t want to miss school/work or be late to practice, so we created our schedule so the most number of patients can be seen from 3:00 to 5:00 for adjustments only. Broken brackets add significant time to your appointment which is why we can’t fix these in the late afternoon.

Foods to avoid with braces

For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods to about once a week; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing, and chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.

Examples of foods to avoid:

  • Gum (sugar-free stick gum is allowed)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst
  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Chips
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Pizza crust
  • Uncooked carrots (unless cut)

Minimize sugary foods

  • Soda

  • Sweetened tea

  • Gatorade

  • Kool-Aid

  • Drinks with sugar

  • Cake

  • Ice cream

  • Cookies

  • Pie

  • Candy


Brushing and flossing with braces

The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is by brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will have the best possible result.

How to brush with braces

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. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces, and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth, and the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After supper
  • At bedtime​

You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.

How to floss with braces

For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.

​Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.

We recommend Superfloss for flossing which can be purchased locally or online.