Hygiene and Your Braces
Although braces work wonders for the alignment of your teeth and the appearance of your smile, they are an appliance that adds steps to your oral hygiene routine. It’s true that brushing and flossing become more intricate with the placement of braces, but good oral hygiene practices will ensure the health and beauty of your smile for the duration of your orthodontic treatment.
Braces are especially prone to plaque and tartar because of the additional spaces and grooves that the structures create on your teeth. Food debris can easily become trapped in between the hardware, which if left without a proper cleaning, can create unnecessary tooth decay over time.
It’s important to be diligent about your oral hygiene routine if you wear braces currently or have recently had them put on. We’ve got some helpful tips that you should keep in mind while caring for your braces. Doing so will ensure that you maintain a healthy smile until your braces are removed.
Brush more than twice per day
Because food has a higher chance of finding its way into the crevices of your braces, brushing more frequently will keep any bacteria from forming and hardening on your teeth. Brush in the morning and at night, of course, but also brush after every meal. We even sometimes recommend to “dry brush” (no toothpaste) through the duration of our patients’ favorite TV show, and rinsing at commercial breaks, as this helps eliminate hard-to-reach debris.
In addition to your traditional toothbrush, a proxabrush (or interdental brush) may help clear away even more bacteria. The brush resembles a Q-tip® but with bristles, and it easily slides in between teeth, wires, and brackets to clean in harder-to-reach spaces.
Flossing is still a must
A simple way to floss with braces is to pass one end of the dental floss underneath the wires and in between your teeth. Then take the floss and move it back and forth in a c-shape motion. You should floss your archwire and brackets too! Floss threaders can help keep the floss dry and get the floss in those hard-to-reach spots created by the presence of the brackets & wires.
Avoid these foods while wearing braces
Some foods will naturally become more inconvenient to eat while wearing braces. Others you will still want to eat even though they are detrimental to your braces and oral health. Avoid sticky foods that are more prone to latch onto the metal on your braces. Foods like Tootsie Rolls or caramels are especially hard to clean off of your teeth once eaten.
Eating hard or crunchy foods should also be kept to a minimum so that you reduce the amount of food that gets stuck in your braces. Harder foods can also pose a risk to the structure of your braces and should be avoided to keep the appliances intact. Limit foods like chips, ice, nuts, and corn to keep your teeth healthy.
Use an antibacterial mouthwash
Although it’s best to brush 3-4 times per day with braces, sometimes it’s difficult to step away from everyday life to brush your teeth. To compromise with your daily routine and still reduce the amount of bacteria on your teeth, use an antibacterial mouthwash.
You can either carry a small bottle with you to work or school and use it during the day after you’ve eaten, or you can rinse in the morning and at night when you’re at home. Either way, using a mouthwash is an additional step that should be taken to eliminate plaque.
Your oral health is always important, but especially so when you are wearing braces! Use these tips to keep your smile healthy while you wear braces so that you receive optimal results from your orthodontic treatment.