How to Have Great Oral Hygiene with Braces
Protect Your Smile While Straightening Your Teeth
Successful orthodontic treatment is a team effort between you and your orthodontist with an end goal of achieving a healthy, beautiful smile. In doing so, proper oral hygiene is a must. While having good oral hygiene is essential at all times, it’s even more vital when you have braces. Since all types of braces cover the teeth in some way, maintaining regular hygiene can be difficult. Keeping your teeth clean while undergoing orthodontic treatment prevents white spots, gum disease, and even tooth decay from ruining your smile.
Plaque, braces biggest enemy, is a colorless deposit of bacteria which forms on teeth. As this plaque increases it becomes white, texturized and noticeable. The food you eat can cause the bacteria to produce damaging acids which attack tooth enamel and gums. Braces trap bacteria and plaque against the teeth, leading to build-up. This excess plaque requires more brushing and better oral hygiene to prevent dental problems down the road.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Brushing your teeth often when wearing braces is extremely important in keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Using a toothbrush in between meals and after snacks will help remove any food particles left behind. Food is more susceptible to hang around when you have wires and brackets everywhere so it’s even more crucial to brush after each meal.
Be sure to have a spare toothbrush and toothpaste with you at all times. Brushing will also help to prevent permanent marks and stains on your teeth. If teeth aren’t properly cared for, white spaces will appear once your braces are removed.
Interdental Brushes and Braces
Interdental brushes are great alternatives to flossing. While more effective and easier to use than flossing, these small brushes are specifically recommended for orthodontic care. An interdental toothbrush cleans between the teeth and can be used to clean underneath and around your wires. Available in a variety of sizes, interdental brushes will help you clean your braces so you can maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Floss Once a Day
Flossing with braces can be more difficult yet it’s more important than ever. There are easy-to-use flosses available on the market which are designed to make the process simpler. Be sure to discuss with your orthodontist on recommendations.
Rinse with Mouthwash
Using a mouth rinse, preferably an antibacterial one, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks while preventing infection and decreasing irritation which may develop from your braces. Mouthwash will help release leftover food particles caught in your braces and between teeth flossing or brushing may have missed. Choose a mouthwash recommended by your dentist and be sure to follow instructions accordingly.
Your orthodontist will want to see you often. It’s crucial these appointments are not missed. Your orthodontist will track your teeth's progress and make adjustments to the wires accordingly. Skipping follow-ups can hinder progress and may cause you to need braces for a longer period of time. Most orthodontists see patients every 4-6 weeks.
Finally, it’s best to avoid food which could damage or get stuck in your braces. Any food you have to bite into, like apples, corn on the cob, or carrots, can get pushed up under your braces when you bite. Stuck directly against your teeth, bacteria can grow quickly. Choose your food wisely to prevent the need for an emergency orthodontic appointment.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
- Hardy or sticky candy
- Chewy foods like bagels or hard rolls