If you or someone in your family wears braces, take heart. Before you know it, you’ll be flashing a confident smile if you keep these few things in mind.
With braces, oral hygiene is more important than ever. That's because braces have tiny spaces where food particles and plaque get trapped, and insufficient cleaning while wearing braces can cause enamel staining and tooth decay around brackets or bands.
Be sure to brush carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and check your teeth in the mirror to make sure they're clean. Take time to floss between braces and under wires with the help of a floss threader. Additionally, visit the dentist to have your teeth cleaned every six months to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
Braces care guidelines
The following routine will help make daily brushing and flossing both simple and effective.
- Prepare to brush - Take off elastics and any other removable parts of your orthodontic appliance.
- Clean your braces - Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to clean around the wires and pins of your braces. Brush from the top of each wire down to the bottom. Take your time to ensure that all plaque and debris are removed, and that you work all the way around upper and lower teeth.
- Brush your teeth - Clean each tooth individually. First, place your brush at a 45-degree angle the gum line, then apply gentle pressure as you move in a circular motion. Do this for about 10 seconds. Use the same brushing action on all outer and inner tooth surfaces, tilting the brush as needed to better reach the insides of smaller front teeth.
- Floss once a day - Have your dental professional show you the best way to floss, or follow the instructions on the product package. You may also want to use a flossing product designed for braces and orthodontic work, like a floss threader.
- Rinse and check your teeth - Rinse thoroughly with water or mouth rinse, and examine your teeth and braces in the mirror.
- Professional care - Dentist and orthodontist visits
During the time that you have braces on your teeth, you will need to visit the orthodontist regularly for adjustments to your appliance. After a routine orthodontic adjustment, you may experience some tightness or even a slight amount of pain. If this discomfort or pain does not quickly dissipate, or becomes extreme, you should consult your orthodontist. Concerns about your appliances and any problems with broken parts, should also be brought to your orthodontist's attention immediately.
It’s also important that you continue with regular visits to your general dentist while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Routine check-ups are necessary to spot cavities and signs of gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist may also perform frequent fluoride treatments to provide additional protection to tooth surfaces from decay while you’re wearing braces.
Your home oral care techniques will be monitored by your dental professional and changes will be recommended as necessary. As always, be sure to follow their instructions.
Plan regular check-ups
Seeing your orthodontist for check-ups and adjustments is essential. He or she can repair broken pieces, answer general questions, and address any irregularities such as cavities or gingivitis. Your dental professional may recommend a fluoride treatment as a precaution.
Apart from daily hygiene, during orthodontic treatment one should pay attention to diet as well. It is inadvisable to eat very hard products, such as nuts or hard-tacks, or sticky sweets, such as fudges or toffee. It is also advisable, with regard to oral care for teeth with braces, to limit the products causing tooth decay, such as sweets and sugared beverages.
One should also remember that the elements of braces on teeth (the so called ligatures) may become stained. That’s why one should avoid eating foods containing strong colorants, such as beetroots, blackcurrants, berries, curry sauce, or red wine to avoid stains.
A view from the expert
Ewa Iwanicka-Grzegorek MD., Ph.D.: “Teeth during orthodontic treatment are especially prone to decay and gum inflammation. This situation occurs because dental plaque often covers the metal parts of the braces and builds up in the areas which are difficult to reach.
If it is not removed regularly, it transforms into tartar, which not only leads to tooth and gum problems, but also makes it difficult to remove the plaque building up on teeth. I always try to explain to my patients who wear braces that daily, thorough cleaning of the mouth is absolutely essential.
I recommend brushing teeth with an electric toothbrush incorporating oscillating-rotating technology, which removes even twice as much plaque as a manual toothbrush. There are special products which can be used to improve oral care for teeth with braces during orthodontic treatment, among others: a tip for electric toothbrushes, toothbrush for cleaning the spaces between the braces, and special dental floss.
An irrigator is also worth using, which will allow us to clean the interdental spaces and the spaces where braces stick with teeth. The last stage should be washing the mouth with a mouthwash. Apart from regular appointments with the orthodontist, the patient wearing braces should have a check-up appointment with the dentist at least once a year".