Avoiding Braces Breakage
Breakage of braces or other orthodontic appliances during treatment can be an unfortunate and unnecessary source of aggravation and cost. The braces are attached to the teeth in such a way as to permit use over the course of a few years, yet at the same time, allow removal without harming the enamel. Therefore, “super glue” is not a good alternative! The balance between bond strength of the braces and ease of removal when the treatment is complete necessitates cooperation from the patient during treatment. That is, diet modification and a change in how food is eaten are critical to preventing breakage.
The cost of breakage may not be entirely monetary. Patients who repeatedly break braces and appliances will likely be charged additionally by their orthodontist. However, treatment that has repeated broken appliances will take longer, and the results may end less than ideal. Every time a bracket comes off of a tooth, that tooth is no longer functioning as a part of the arch. This will tend to slow the progress of the treatment if it happens on a regular basis.
The best way to avoid breakage during treatment is to follow these instructions:
Avoid hard and sticky foods/candy Chips, Popcorn, Jerky, Nuts, Jolly Ranchers Gum, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Caramel, Taffy
Avoid chewing on hard objects Pens and pencils, Ice cubes
Eat foods such as apples and carrots by first cutting them into smaller pieces
There may be other factors involved in breakage of the braces. This may include a very deep bite (the top teeth overlap and hit the lower braces when biting and chewing), appliances that may need adjustment (a headgear rubs against the braces when worn), or a bonding failure. Bonding failure is not ordinarily a significant factor. It is more likely to occur in a patient where saliva and moisture control is difficult, or if the bonding is attempted in a difficult area of the mouth.
Sports and accidents tend to be additional sources of appliance and braces breakage. Hockey, football, wrestling, or any other contact sport runs the risk of damage to the braces, especially if a mouth guard is not worn. Sports such as basketball and soccer, where mouth guard use is generally not mandated by schools, can have high contact situations and may have instances where a bracket could come loose. More importantly, as discussed in the emergency section later, mouth guard use in these situations is a good idea to protect the teeth. There are many different styles and fit available, look for mouthguards labelled for use with braces (for example Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard).