Removable Orthodontic Appliances

Care and Use of the Removable Orthodontic Appliance (“Bite Plate” or “Retainer”)

The removable appliance that is often prescribed to correct minor orthodontic problems or during the initial stages of comprehensive treatment is precisely made and delicate; it must be handled with care when out of the mouth. It took a great deal of time and careful work to construct it. (Please take good care of it and handle with care!)

The appliance must be worn as instructed by our expert team. This includes wearing it during the day and night, including when sleeping. In some cases, it may even be necessary to wear it while eating. It should not, however, be worn while swimming or when participating in any contact sports. Keep the appliance safe by storing it in the container that was given to you when it is not being worn.

Eating and speaking will probably be a little daunting at first. We advise eating a soft diet initially, avoiding chewy meats, hard fruits and vegetable as well as hard, crusty breads/pizza crusts. Within a few days, most foods will be able to be eaten and with a little practice, speech will return to normal.

The appliance may simply be rinsed or, better still, scrubbed after each meal/snacks; it should be cleaned with toothpaste after dinner or before retiring each night. Clean the appliance by holding it in the palm of one hand over a sink of warm water while gently scrubbing it with a tooth or soft bristled hand brush. Try making it a habit to brush your teeth every time you clean your appliance.

Soreness of certain teeth is quite common during the first few days with the appliance or after an adjustment. The tenderness should completely disappear after two to four days. Should a wire become bent or distorted accidentally, or the acrylic becomes chipped or broken, make no attempt to adjust it yourself. Phone the office for an emergency appointment. As an added note, keep the appliance away from your family pet.

The appliance may have to be worn for an extended period of time. Try not to become discouraged during the first few days. Remember, your speech will improve dramatically after the initial period of your adjustment. It’s just a matter of time.


We want to be able to complete your treatment in the least amount of time possible, and with your help, we will be able to do just that. One of the most important things you can do is to prevent your braces from coming loose or having the arch wire become possibly distorted or broken. These events happen most frequently when the wrong foods are eaten or hard objects are chewed.

Some things to consider:

Biting onto hard objects such as pencils or pens is the single most damaging habit.

Avoid putting you fingers in your mouth for either nail biting or just exploring or playing with your appliances and wires.

Sticky, chewy candies such as gum (even the sugarless kind!), toffee, caramels, Skittles, wine gums, jelly beans, Jujubes, licorice, sours, etc, should be eliminated from your diet. Your dentist will also thank you.

Meat should be cut from the bone (e.g., ribs, chicken wings), not eaten off the bone.

Corn should be cut from the cob, not eaten off the cob.

Ice cubes or nuts should not be cracked with your teeth.

Cut hard fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, and carrots into smaller, bite size pieces.

Hard rolls, buns and bagels should be broken up before eating, Avoid the hard crust of pizzas.

Be careful eating fruits with pits such as peaches, plums, cherries, etc.

Be extra careful with “healthy snacks” such as Fruit Roll Ups or Granola bars.

Dual-Phase Treatment

Phase One, also known as the early interceptive treatment process, is limited orthodontic treatment before all of the permanent teeth have erupted or come through. This treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is often recommended to make more space for the developing teeth, correction of cross bites, over bites, under bites, or harmful oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrust).

Phase II treatment is also referred to as comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces. Phase II is usually instituted once all of the permanent teeth have erupted, between the ages of eleven and thirteen. We will only recommend comprehensive treatment if we feel Phase I treatment will not be necessary.

Emergency Care

Actual orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they do happen, we will help to make you comfortable as soon as possible. As a rule, you should call the office if you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t deal with yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem. If our expert team are unavailable, alternative care arrangements with another centre can be made.

You can actually fix many problems yourself until we are able to schedule your appointment. First, you will need to know the names of some of the parts of your appliances so you will be able to identify which part is broken or out of place. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may disrupt your treatment time.

The following solutions may help you relieve your discomfort:

Poking wire or “pigtail ligature”: Using the eraser end of a pencil, push the wire down and out of the way. Or, you can place soft wax (we always have a supply in our mailbox) or a small piece of a wet cotton ball on it.

Loose bracket or band: If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place. Don’t worry, you won’t swallow it. If it bothers you, put a small ball of wax on it to prevent it from moving around. If the bracket comes off the wire completely, just save it so we will be able to attach it later.

Loose wire: If the end of the archwire has come out of the tube of the last back tooth, try to use tweezers to put it back into the tube. You may need a flash light to help you see better. If you can’t get it back in place, and the end of the wire is bothering you, put some wax on it. If this still doesn’t help, take a nail clipper and cut the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened.

General soreness: As mentioned previously, when you have your braces fitted, you might feel soreness in your mouth and teeth may be a tender for three to five days. This can be improved by rinsing your mouth out with a warm saltwater mouthwash several times each day. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in approximately eight ounces of warm water and swish it around for 30 seconds. If the tenderness is severe, take whatever analgesic you normally take for similar pain or fever. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for the first week as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can use the soft wax we give you to help lessen the initial irritation.

Contact us for your appointment and smile assessment