You knew brushing and flossing was important before you got your braces … and you were right. However all patients undergoing orthodontic treatment need to be even more committed to good oral hygiene.
With braces on it is more difficult to brush and floss your teeth… but it is also much more important. Why? The braces trap food very easily, and this results in plaque formation. If plaque is not carefully and consistently removed from your teeth and around your braces, you run the risk of developing gum disease, dental decay, enamel scarring and bad breath. Plaque is a mixture of bacteria and food particles. The bacteria feed on sugars and produce acids. The acids irritate your gums, erode the enamel on your teeth and cause bad breath.
DO I NEED TO SEE MY REGULAR DENTIST FOR CLEANINGS DURING ORTHO?
YES!!! You need to maintain visits with your dentist for regular cleanings and exams during your treatment. We recommend seeing your dentist at least every 6 months while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.
TOOTH BRUSHING INSTRUCTIONS
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
The most important thing is to look for a brush that's soft and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). After that, the size of the brush, the shape of the handle and other variations are up to you.
What about an electric toothbrush? It's not necessary, but if you have one, it's safe to use it on your braces and Dr. Reed does recommend electric toothbrushes as she has observed most patients who use electric brushes maintain better hygiene.
Brush at least three times a day for at least 2 minutes each time.
Brush after each meal to make sure there's no food trapped in or around braces. It is important to brush the braces and all the surfaces of the teeth, that is, the inside and outside surface and the chewing surfaces, too. Pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums. You should take at least two minutes each time you brush. It's best to use a timer (like the one we provided you with) to make sure you are brushing long enough.
Floss at least once a day.
It is definitely tricky flossing with braces but special flossing products can help make it easier for you. These include floss threaders, super floss and other products designed for patients with braces. We will take a lot of time the first visit (and whenever needed) on flossing techniques. If you're not sure you're doing it right, ask us during your next visit.
WHAT ABOUT FLUORIDE WHILE WEARING BRACES?
Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay, and some research shows that it may help with gingivitis.
Using fluoride added to toothpaste and mouthwash is recommended by the American Dental Association, especially for people with braces.
TOOLS TO HELP YOU
Interproximal brush or proxy brush: These are special brushes that help you to get into tough to reach areas, as well as between your teeth.
Oral irrigators like a Water Pic: These instruments shoot small streams of water onto your teeth at high pressure to remove food particles. They can be used as an aid in your oral hygiene, but not in place of brushing and flossing.
Disclosing solutions or tablets: Your dentist may have used these during an office visit to see where you tend to miss spots after brushing. Disclosing tablets and solutions use vegetable dye to highlight plaque or debris in your mouth. We will give you some samples of these. You can find them on-line or in a drugstore and use them at home.
If you have questions about how to use any oral hygiene product, even your toothbrush, call us or ask us when you have your monthly visit.
With braces on you need to think twice about eating foods that could increase your risk of cavities and those very ugly decalcification spots. Be careful not to consume too many sugary beverages like soda, sports drinks, and even some vitamin waters. You also should avoid anything that might damage your braces or wires. Frequently breaking your braces will add to the overall treatment time.
Stay away from hard and sticky foods. Gum, caramel, hard candy…you get the idea. They can damage your braces and cause your teeth to move the wrong way! They also get stuck in the wires and brackets. Cut down on all sugary foods. You can still have a limited amount of sweets once in a while but remember the more sugars you eat, the greater your risk of tooth decay or decalcification.