Tooth care is a crucial part of orthodontic health. Orthodontics uses braces to align the teeth, straighten them and help reposition them. Braces bring in a beautiful smile and must be taken care of to reduce the risk of cavities, plaque buildup, or gum disease that could interfere with your treatment.
Braces act as a physical barrier when cleaning your teeth. Brackets and wires may trap food debris, creating unsightly white spots and making it harder to clean teeth. Plaque stains teeth and wears away tooth enamel leading to tooth decay. Establishing a strict cleaning routine will be worth your while and easier along the way. Here are a few tips on tooth hygiene and care while wearing metal braces.
Brush After Every Meal
Brackets and wires trap food debris, and brushing them frequently is recommended to prevent plaque formation. Brushing thrice daily, an hour after mealtime and before you retire to bed, is essential. Before brushing, ensure you rinse your mouth for about 30 seconds with water to remove any food debris stuck between your braces. It is also good to thoroughly rinse your toothbrush before adding toothpaste to remove any bacteria or debris that might have been left from your previous brushing.
Always carry a toothbrush and toothpaste when traveling. When you don’t have a brush, its’ good to rinse the mouth for 30 seconds with water. Foods like oranges and sports drinks soften the tooth enamel, so one needs to wait 30 -60 minutes before brushing.
Use The Right Toothbrush
Ensure your toothbrush is the right shape and fit for your mouth so that it can easily reach all the corners of your mouth.
A brush with soft bristles is the best to avoid irritation of the gums. Clean the top of the teeth and between the brackets. Avoid using tough bristles since they may loosen the braces. Interdental or spindle brushes help remove food debris between your teeth and the tiny spaces under wires and brackets.
Brush for two minutes at a 45-degree angle with your bristles facing down on the gum lines, using circular motions. It is advisable to swap to an electric toothbrush. Hold your electric toothbrush on each tooth toward the gums, and do not use scrubbing motions; just allow the brush to do its work.
Brush all sides of the mouth, inner and outer sides, go on for two minutes, and do not forget to brush above and below your braces and on your chewing surfaces.
Keep replacing the toothbrush once it shows signs of wear. A worn-out toothbrush might not be able to remove food debris, bacteria, and plaque efficiently. Frayed toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.
Rinse your mouth with water after every meal to remove any food particles stuck in the braces. If you don’t have time to brush after any bite, rinse the mouth for 30 seconds with water to remove food debris.
Avoid Too Much Toothpaste
Use the right toothpaste, like one with fluoride, to keep your teeth strong and prevent plaque accumulation. Since braces make teeth sensitive, use sensitivity-formulated fluoride toothpaste. Too much toothpaste forms paste in the mouth, preventing you from seeing the plaque and debris. First, use a wet toothbrush, then add a small amount of toothpaste (pea size).
Use A Floss Threader or a Waterpik
Tie dental floss to a threader as an easier way to glide through the wires and brackets using slow motion to eliminate plaque and food debris.
Waterpik is a device that shoots a jet or stream of water at your teeth to remove food particles between your teeth. It helps remove food debris and might help reduce bleeding gums, bacteria, and gum disease. It is an easy, quick way to floss. These special tools may help clean the food particles around the brackets and the wires, but they should not replace flossing or brushing.
Use Mouthwash at Night
Reduce tooth decay and protect the enamel by using an anti-cavity fluoride mouthwash. Rinse for one minute, then look in the mirror to see if some places have been left uncleaned. You can also use mouthwash four times a day to help prevent inflammation of the gums and tooth decay and to get rid of bad breath.
Use a mouthwash with chlorhexidine (recommended by dentists) and avoid those containing alcohol since it dries out the mouth and can cause bad breath. Mouthwash should not be substituted for flossing or brushing.
Avoid Certain Foods
Sugary treats like candies and acidic foods like vinegar and citrus fruits damage the teeth. Sticky foods like gum, nuts, popcorn, ice, corn chips, gummy bears, licorice, and caramel are not easy to clean. They can lead to cavities which cause pain and increase sensitivity. Beef jerky, pizza crusts, corn on the cob, apples, and carrots can bend wires or damage your braces.
Since they could damage your brackets, you should also avoid biting or chewing hard objects such as toothpicks, nail-biting, straws, pencils or pens.
Brush Your Tongue
Brushing your tongue is essential because it can keep bacteria and cause bad breath. It is important to remove bacteria before they hide in between the metals, wires, and teeth. Brush your tongue and soft palate using gentle back-and-forth scrubbing motions.
Gargle with salted water to reduce inflammation, keep your teeth clean and reduce pain and soreness. Salted water can help keep your mouth healthy, especially after your braces are first applied.
In cases where you might forget toothpaste, coconut oil is a good alternative. It has a bacteria-fighting element and also fights tooth decay. Baking soda can also be used by mixing with water to make a paste that helps to clean the teeth.
Attend Dental and Orthopedic Appointments Regularly
Your orthodontist will check on your progress, change elastics and adjust wires, check your teeth and whether anything needs to be done, and you will also have a chance to ask questions. Visit your orthodontist as often as they suggest.
Your dentist will clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to cavities and keep the teeth free of stains when the braces are finally removed. Visit your dentist at least after every six months.
Keeping your teeth and braces clean and healthy is crucial because it enables you to reap the best results of your orthodontic treatment. Maintaining oral health can keep your teeth healthy and bright after being removed. For more information please contact Dr. Scott McElroy.