The team at Orthodontic Specialists can answer all your questions about caring for your orthodontic appliances.

A beautiful smile is worth a little work!

Orthodontics requires some adjustment – both to the physical changes occurring in your mouth and to your routine for oral hygiene. Caring for your appliances is vital, whether we are talking about your braces, Invisalign® clear aligners, or your retainer. Here’s the scoop on how to get the best results during, and after, your treatment.

Your teeth deserve lots of TLC

Excellent oral hygiene with an orthodontic appliance, like braces or Invisalign clear aligners, is essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. It’s also critical for successful treatment. The right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss will make it easier to perform the proper ortho dental care. If you need recommendations on these items, please ask! Orthodontic Specialists can help guide your braces care regimen, or Invisalign® clear aligners care regimen, and help you select the best products for your teeth and appliance.

Brush your teeth three times a day

Brush your teeth three times per day, for three minutes per session. With braces, angle your toothbrush around each bracket and under the wire.

Floss at least once a day

Flossing is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene and should be performed once each day.

Rinse twice a day

Rinse with over-the-counter fluoride rinse twice a day. This can be purchased almost anywhere you buy toothpaste.

Sugar-free breath mints

Use sugar-free breath mints containing xylitol four times per day, after meals, for five to ten minutes.

We recommend using these products during treatment for proper orthodontic care


You can brush with your preferred toothpaste.

Mouth rinse

Rinse with over-the-counter fluoride rinse twice a day. This can be purchased almost anywhere you buy toothpaste.

Sugar-free breath mints

Any sugar-free xylitol gum or mint can be used, as long as xylitol is the first ingredient listed on the label.

Salt for soreness

At first, your teeth and mouth may feel a bit tender or sore. This is temporary – and perfectly normal. You can help relieve oral tissue discomfort by dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle. Swish and gargle. Swish and gargle. This will help promote the healing of your mouth! But don’t swallow the salt water (trust us, you won’t like it). If the pain still doesn’t go away after rinsing, you can take a pain reliever. When you’re new to braces, your lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated. This will quickly pass, but if needed, we can give you some wax to temporarily put over your braces and give your mouth a break

The hard truth: softer foods are better now

Modern technology means sturdier braces, but you still need to be careful and avoid foods that could damage your orthodontic appliance. Softer foods are recommended (mmm, mac & cheese…), especially after an appointment when your mouth may be sore. When in doubt, take it slow or avoid it altogether.

Avoid sticky foods

Sticky foods can get wrapped around your appliances and cause them to break or come loose. Hard foods can break your braces and damage your appliances.

Avoid high-sugar and high-acidity drinks

High-sugar and high-acidity drinks, when mixed with saliva, create plaque—a sticky film that coats the teeth and is difficult to remove completely, even with brushing.

Cut food into smaller pieces

Some foods are fine to enjoy, as long as they’re cut into smaller pieces that won’t damage your braces or appliance. Examples include bagels, carrots, and apples.

Enjoy soft, braces-friendly foods

Your favorite soft foods and drinks are perfectly safe with braces or appliances.

Our guide to eating with braces

Some foods and drinks to avoid

Taffy, Starburst®, Skittles®, caramels, Mike and Ike®, Now&Later®, Tootsie Rolls®, gummy candies

Ice cubes, hard candies, beef jerky, hard granola bars, suckers, hard bread, popcorn kernels (fully popped popcorn is OK)

Soda, diet soda, Gatorade®, juice, Powerade®, energy drinks

Foods and drinks you can enjoy

Yogurt, pudding, bananas, grapes, oranges, fruits without pits, crackers, cheese, mashed potatoes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ravioli, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and many other pasta dishes

Water, milk, Crystal Light®, GatoradeG2®, Propel®

Clear aligners need care, too

Sure, your Invisalign clear aligners can easily come on and off, and people enjoy that flexibility when eating and drinking. But with great power comes great responsibility, which means you must keep track of them and clean them frequently.

Clean your aligners regularly

Gently clean your aligners with a toothbrush and toothpaste or Retainer Brite® cleaner tablets 1-2 times daily.

Disinfect your aligners every day

You may use EverSmile® WhiteFoam or Steraligner daily to help keep your aligners fresh, whiten teeth, and help with dry mouth.

Keep your aligners safe

Keep your aligners away from pets, boiling water, bleach, denture cleaner, and any other cleaning products. Avoid placing your aligners in a napkin while eating to avoid accidentally throwing them away!

Apply and remove your aligners carefully

When you put your aligners in, make sure they’re securely in place. When removing them, loosen your aligners in several places, and then gently dislodge them.

We recommend using these products during treatment for proper orthodontic care

Cleaner tablets

We recommend Retainer Brite® cleaner tablets which are available for purchase at the front desk.


You may use EverSmile® WhiteFoam or Steraligner daily to help keep your aligners fresh, whiten teeth and help with dry mouth.

Gum or breath mints

If you do not have a toothbrush available, rinse with water and chew a piece of sugar-free gum that contains xylitol for 10 minutes before putting your aligners back in. Do not chew gum with your aligners in. You may suck on sugar-free mints.

Retainers do just that—retain your new smile

Orthodontic care doesn’t end once your braces or aligners are removed. Retainers are stabilizers, keeping your teeth happy and secure in their new position. Take care of your retainer, and you take care of your teeth – for a lifetime. But if you lose your retainer, or if it no longer fits properly, let us know and we’ll get you back on track.

Clean your retainer regularly

Carefully scrub the retainer with a toothbrush and water at least once a day. Avoid brushing with toothpaste as it can be abrasive and scratch your retainer.

Apply and remove your retainer carefully

When you put your retainer in, make sure it’s securely in place. When removing it, loosen your retainer in several places, and then gently dislodge it.

Keep your retainer safe

Protect your retainer from heat and pets. Avoid placing your retainer in a napkin while eating to avoid accidentally throwing it away!

Replace your retainer when necessary

Even a well-made retainer will eventually wear out. If your retainer has deteriorated, or it feels different than it did when new, contact your Ortho Specialists orthodontist.

Be vigilant

After you finish orthodontic treatment, your teeth will want to continue shifting. Your retainer (some are removable, some are fixed) stops that, holding your teeth in their perfect new positions.

Wearing it is everything (you’ve come so far), so… wear it. With pride! Your Orthodontic Specialists team will show you how to care for your retainer and explain how long you’ll need to use it.