Urbana, MD 21704 ph: 301.874.0080

Home Care


You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food becomes caught in the brackets and between your teeth. Brushing after meals and flossing will help prevent plaque from forming and should become part of your daily schedule. Use a soft toothbrush and brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth in small circles above and below the brackets. Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.

If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it can leave a permanent white scar on the surface. A waterpik or an electric toothbrush can be a useful addition, however, please continue to see your dentist at least every 6 months for regular dental cleanings.

Eating Habits

Please do not eat hard foods, including nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spare ribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating) and popcorn! These foods can cause breakage of the brackets and wires. Also avoid nail-biting and pen- or pencil-chewing habits, since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods like taffy, caramels, bubblegum or sticky candy of any sort. Excessive broken appliances due to careless eating habits may result in additional charges for repair.

Sore Teeth

After braces are placed in the mouth, it is normal for the teeth to be sore for about 2 to 3 days. Tylenol or Advil/Motrin will help relieve this discomfort. Some irritation to the cheeks and tongue is normal, but if you feel anything sharp is poking you, please call our office.


Sometimes teeth need help moving. Elastics (rubber bands) create the right amount of pressure to move teeth and correct your bite. Please remember to wear your elastics as prescribed as they are critical to correcting some orthodontic bite concerns.

Removable Appliances (Expanders, Retainers, Bite Plates, etc.)

A removable appliance is carefully designed to move or hold your teeth in place. It should be worn according to instructions provided by Dr. McTavish and his staff. Please remember to bring your removable appliance to each appointment in order to have adjustments made. Initially, it may be cumbersome to talk while wearing your appliance, however, your speech will return to normal as your mouth becomes familiar with the new appliance. Your teeth may be sore for a day or two, especially after an adjustment. If you have a sore spot on your gums, call our office so we can arrange to adjust the appliance.

Dogs and cats love to chew on your removable appliance, in part because the scent reminds them of you! Other reminders include:

  • Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Do not soak your appliance in mouthwash, however, denture cleaner may be used for a more thorough cleaning
  • Avoid storing the appliance near a heat source.
  • Never boil your retainer to sterilize it! If needed, bring it to the office, and we will be happy to disinfect it for you.
  • Always remove a removable appliance during meals, when brushing, and while swimming or engaging in sporting activities.
  • Always place the appliance in the provided plastic case when it is not in your mouth. Wrapping it in a napkin, leaving it on a table in a restaurant, and placing it in a pocket are common causes of lost or broken appliances.
  • The first set of removable appliances are included in the treatment fee. An additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken appliances.
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