Information for Patients Who are Starting Treatment

Some brief information about aspects of active treatment.


Separators are small rubber separating rings which are placed between the teeth to make space for appliances. Separators are generally placed in the mouth 3 to 7 days before the insertion of appliances or bands. Separators may also be placed prior to an appointment at which the patient will be fitted for an appliance. 

Things to Know

If a separator falls out, please call us immediately so that we may schedule an appointment to replace the lost separators. They are usually replaced one business day before appliances are placed. You may want to eat soft foods for the first few days as your teeth may be tender. You should brush your teeth as you normally would, but do not floss in the areas where the separators were placed. Your teeth may be sensitive for a few days. Take your usual headache pain medication (according to the directions on the medication) to relieve the pressure. Avoid chewy or sticky foods, such as gum or taffy, as they can pull separators loose.

About the Banding Appointment

Typically, a banding appointment for traditional braces takes approximately 2 hours to complete. In addition to the actual placement of the braces, the patient receives information on the banding process, care of the braces, and information about dental hygiene with braces.

At the end of the appointment, the patient will receive further instruction on dental hygiene, a “Foods to Avoid” list and any instructions regarding additional appliances such as headgear. This appointment may cause some soreness, but typically this discomfort only lasts 48 to 72 hours. The patient can take his or her usual headache pain medication (according to the directions on the medication) to relieve any discomfort. Should discomfort exceed this time frame or if the patient experiences any type of pain, please contact Dr. Briss immediately at the office (978) 256-2526.

Most school-age patients do return to classes after their appointment. Patients should try to have softer foods for the first few meals after their braces have been placed. After the first few meals, the patient should be sure to follow the instructions on the food list and avoid any foods that are crunchy or sticky and any foods that are generally considered finger food. Dr. Briss will be happy to answer any questions that patients or parents may have about this appointment or treatment in general.

Care of Your Appliances (Braces) How to Care for Your Appliances

1) Follow the food guidelines provided to you at the time of appliance placement. Avoid all foods that are crunchy, sticky or sugary.

2) Prevent plaque on your teeth. Brush your teeth after every meal and before going to bed. Floss at least once a day. Use a fluoride rinse. Continue to see your dentist at regular six-month intervals during treatment. Be extra careful to clean around the following areas: between the gum and the band, behind the arch wire and loops, and around newly erupted teeth. The orthodontic assistants will provide you with basic brushing and flossing instructions. If you have any questions at any time during treatment about oral hygiene, just ask!

3) Keep a regular appointment schedule. You should be seen every four to six weeks. Try to keep as close to four weeks as your schedule and our availability allows.

4) Report any irritation or breakage as soon as possible. Should you have any pain or extended discomfort after an appointment, call our office at (978) 256-2526. If we are closed, please contact our emergency number. Apply wax to the area of discomfort. Do not try and fix the problem yourself without talking to the orthodontist first. “Selfodontics” can cause more problems and/or irritation.

Headgear Use and Wear

Your headgear is an extremely important part of your treatment. The more you wear your headgear as your orthodontist instructs, the sooner its use can be discontinued as part of your treatment. Headgear can be used to accomplish a number of goals. Most often the headgear is meant to move your two upper teeth or to prevent the molar teeth from moving.

It is important that the headgear is worn as we prescribe. At the start of headgear wearing, your upper molar teeth will become sore. Don’t worry and don’t stop wearing the headgear; this initial soreness will disappear after about a week of faithful headgear use.

You won’t start using the headgear the day that your braces are placed. Starting the day after the braces are put on, you will wear the headgear up to one hour. The day after, you will wear the headgear for 1 to 2  hours, and so on, increasing headgear wear at 1-hour intervals, until you are wearing the headgear for the required number of hours. This process takes about one to one-and-a-half weeks. Each day you will keep a record of your progress on the Headgear Chart in your kit.

You do not have to complete your entire prescribed amount of hours all at once; you can wear the headgear for smaller blocks of time as long as you reach the prescribed number of hours by the end of the day. Do not skip a day. You must wear the headgear for the required number of hours every day or the headgear will not do its job properly. A loss of even one day of headgear wear can mean the loss of a whole week of tooth movement and can cause a delay in your treatment.

Warning! The headgear can be dangerous if it is used improperly. If the facebow (the metal part) is pulled from the mouth without disconnecting the neck or head strap, the facebow could snap back and serious injury could result.

DO NOT adjust or attempt to adjust the tension on the head or neck strap and do not attempt to bend the facebow. Only your orthodontist can properly adjust your headgear. If you bend the wire or adjust the tension the headgear will not work properly and may cause you injury.

DO NOT put on or remove the facebow while it is attached to the neck or head strap. Do not allow other people to pull on, play with, or snap the facebow or neck/head strap while you are wearing your headgear. Do not wear the headgear while participating in any sporting activity (including playing around your house) unless you receive specific permission from your orthodontist. Serious injury to your teeth, gums, tongue, lips, face or eyes may result from improper use of headgear.

Remember to always bring your headgear and your headgear chart to your appointments. We need to check to be sure that the headgear is being worn properly and that it fits correctly.