You already know that maintaining good oral hygiene is important for everyone — but when you’re having orthodontic treatment, it’s even more critical. Why? Because, while the appliances (such as braces or clear aligners) you may need to wear during treatment are very effective in correcting misaligned teeth, they can also trap food particles easily. Keeping your teeth (and your appliances) clean is a little harder — but you can do it!
The major enemy of oral health is plaque. Food that becomes trapped near tooth surfaces can lead to the formation of plaque — a thin coating of microorganisms and organic debris (biofilm) containing bacteria. Braces or other appliances make it harder to remove plaque. The bacteria in plaque digest the sugars in food, producing acids which may erode teeth and irritate gums. This can cause cavities, white spots on teeth, gum disease and bad breath.
Keeping plaque under control is one of the most effective means of maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums. There are three general ways to do it: through diet, daily maintenance, and regular professional care. Taken all together, they’re your teeth’s best defense.
Diet and Decay
Controlling your diet involves avoiding foods that could increase your risk of developing tooth decay. That means cutting down or eliminating foods with an excess of sugar, like soda, sweets, and ice cream. It also means avoiding foods that could easily become stuck in your braces, like toffee, gum, licorice and caramels.
Foods that are very hard or extremely sticky can also cause physical damage to orthodontic appliances. Certainly braces or retainers with broken wires or loose brackets aren’t working to straighten your teeth! You should avoid foods like hard candies or nuts, beef jerky and hard pizza crust. Keep eating healthy foods like carrots and apples — but cut them into bite-sized pieces first! And don’t chew on ice, pencils, or your nails: these habits can cause damage to your appliances, and even result in chipped teeth!
You know how important brushing and flossing are for keeping a healthy smile — especially now that you’re in orthodontic treatment. But sometimes it’s harder to clean your teeth effectively around an appliance’s brackets and wires. We have partnered with Crest in a program called Ortho Essentials where we provide an Oral B electric tooth brush, mouthwash, small “pick” toothbrushes, and flossers to patients who start braces at our office. We work with patients at each visit to have them assess their own brushing compared to expectations so they can realize if they are missing plaque. Our goal is a teamwork approach to excellent oral hygiene so patients have healthy teeth and gums so they achieve the ideal smile they are looking for at the end of orthodontic treatment.
You should brush well twice each day and floss once per day. Our staff will review proper brushing and flossing techniques with you when your braces are put on — but if you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Even though you’re seeing an orthodontist regularly, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see your regular dentist — in fact, it’s just as important as ever! While we’re focused on improving your bite and alignment, your dentist will make sure your teeth stay healthy with thorough examinations, cleanings and preventive care. Your orthodontic treatment is a team effort where everyone — our office, you, and your family dentist — has an important role to play. And the team has just one goal: giving you a winning smile.
How To Brush Your Teeth While Wearing Braces
1. Start by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
2. Using a circular motion, brush your teeth gently.
3. Make sure that you brush all of the surfaces of each tooth, including the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces.
You should always use the tip of your brush when you brush the inner surface of your front teeth.
How To Floss Your Teeth While Wearing Braces
1. Start with a section of floss that is about 18-inches long. Carefully thread it between the braces and wire. You may want to try a floss threader, which might be easier for you.
2. Carefully floss around your braces.
3. Next, carefully floss around your gums and then your teeth.
Good dental hygiene is still important when you have braces, though it can be a little harder to brush and floss your teeth. You need to maintain healthy teeth even when you have braces so that you can have a beautiful smile when your treatment is finished.
It is important to choose the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to make the whole process go smoothly. We will help guide patients to see where they may need some extra help and encourage them to become very effective and successful so they have a healthy, beautiful smile to be proud of after orthodontic treatment.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today at (563) 332-5671 (Bettendorf) or (309) 786-7782 (Rock Island) if you have any questions about brushing and flossing your teeth while wearing braces.