When it comes to keeping your smile looking and feeling good, an excellent oral hygiene routine is essential. This is an important part of the treatment process, but it’s especially true for patients wearing braces. Brackets and wires create several nooks and crannies that can trap food debris and hide bacteria. These can be difficult to clean effectively, but plaque feeds off any sugar that enters the mouth and can build up quickly if the teeth aren’t brushed and flossed properly. Over time, this will lead to the production of harmful acids that can damage the tooth enamel and cause other dental problems.
Here at Mack Orthodontics, we’ve seen how poor oral hygiene can affect a patient’s treatment plan. When cavities and tooth decay are left to spread, it can lead to longer treatment times and may even affect the final results. In some severe cases, braces have had to be removed temporarily to resolve the problem before resuming orthodontic treatment. If you’re an orthodontic patient, keeping your mouth healthy is the easiest way to guarantee exceptional results. Keep reading for our top tips on taking care of your teeth while you’re in braces!
Brushing with braces
Once your braces have been placed, you may need to adjust how you brush your teeth. Your usual technique will need some tweaking since you have brackets and wires to navigate now. You’ll need to brush more often, too! We recommend brushing 3-4 times a day for at least two minutes each time to keep food particles and plaque from building up in between your braces and teeth.
There’s no particular toothbrush we recommend for use with braces, but you should look for one with soft bristles. Manual toothbrushes can sometimes leave food particles and plaque behind no matter how thorough your brushing is, so we also recommend you use an electric toothbrush for the extra power it provides.
As with toothbrushes, there’s no specific toothpaste needed for brushing with braces but we do recommend fluoride toothpaste. We also suggest using mouthwash daily to rinse around your brackets. Choose an anti-cavity fluoride mouthwash to help reduce tooth decay and protect enamel! Rinsing for one minute will help flush out any debris that’s still trapped after brushing and flossing. To get the most out of brushing, refer to the following guidelines.
- Go easy on the toothpaste! Using too much can create excess foam that makes it difficult to see any plaque and debris. A pea-sized amount should be sufficient.
- Hold the toothbrush against the front sides of the teeth, and move the toothbrush in small circular motions. Try to follow the regular curve of the gums and teeth as you go from tooth to tooth.
- Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly, Make sure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
- Take care to brush the biting surfaces of the teeth, the back sides of the teeth, and behind the molars.
- Don’t forget to brush the roof of your mouth and tongue before rinsing!
- To properly clean the brackets, angle the brush head against them, and remember to brush thoroughly under the wires as well.
Once you’re done, inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they’re spotless. Take a look in a well-lighted mirror to see if you’ve missed anything, and check for any loose or broken brackets at this time as well. If you see something out of the ordinary, let us know! Dr. Mack and Dr. Jackson will be happy to advise you on whether or not it needs to be checked out or repaired.
Flossing with braces
Flossing is another essential part of oral care if you’re wearing braces, but it can be frustrating to get it right even at the best of times! It may seem like you’ve brushed away every bit of food debris, but braces can easily trap tiny particles of it in places that are hard to see and reach.
The good news is, there are many products available to help make this an easier process! Floss threaders are a great example of this. This reusable tool has a stiff end that allows you to easily floss between the brackets and under the archwire. To ensure you’re flossing correctly with braces, try following these simple tips.
- Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire, above the space between the two teeth. Insert the floss halfway through, and then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, you’ll be able to hear a slight squeaking sound.
- Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
- Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.
It may take you a while to get through this process in the beginning, but keep at it! With some patience and practice, flossing will become second nature in no time. A little effort will go a long way, and your smile will thank you for it!
Give your smile some TLC with Mack Orthodontics
There’s an important link between your oral health and successfully achieving a straighter smile. Following the guidelines we’ve listed above will keep your mouth healthy while we work on giving you a better bite! If you have any questions or concerns about oral hygiene during treatment, our expert team is always here to help set your mind at ease. Are you interested in learning more about how to be proactive with your smile? Get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with our Burlington or Hillsborough office!