Braces have plenty of benefits, from giving patients more confidence in their smiles to making teeth easier to clean and healthier in the long run. However, getting these results requires taking care of your braces while you’re wearing them. Every patient should follow a braces friendly diet as well as careful oral hygiene (brushing and flossing).
In fact, caring for your braces properly can help to keep your treatment on schedule, as well as ensure that your the best smile possible is revealed when your braces are removed. Just a glance in the mirror at your orthodontic brackets and wires can tell you that cleaning your teeth with braces will be a bit more challenging and take some patience on your part.
It’s worth the effort though, and once you get the hang of it, keeping your braces clean won’t be difficult or take as long as it does initially. To help you through the process of learning how to keep your braces clean, we’ve put together this post with tips and advice we give to our patients here at Hudson Orthodontics.
Brushing Your Teeth With Braces
Your orthodontist will help you determine the type of toothbrush to use depending on your specific treatment plan. Some orthodontic patients use a regular toothbrush, and some use electric toothbrush. Either way, soft bristles are important to help patients to keep from damaging their gums as they clean their teeth.
It may also be necessary to change your toothbrush or electric brush head more often than you normally do, because brackets and wires can cause more wear and tear to the toothbrush than your teeth alone would.
While you should be gentle when cleaning your braces, you should brush with enough pressure for the bristles to surround and transcend the wire and reach the teeth and brackets. As for technique, plan to spend several seconds on each tooth, beginning with a gentle stroke of the gumline, then working from top to bottom of the tooth and then bottom to top to get all sides of the bracket and tooth.
An interproximal brush, commonly known as a “Christmas Tree brush” can also help to clean between your braces and under the wires.
How to Floss With Braces
Flossing is the often forgotten piece of dental hygiene, but it’s even more crucial when you’re wearing braces, which tend to trap more particles than your teeth alone while you’re eating. Some kids and even adults mistakenly think flossing isn’t possible while they’re wearing braces, but that isn’t the case.
Although the arch wire and brackets can be obstacles to flossing in a normal manner, a few adjustments to your technique will make flossing with braces not only possible but also very effective.
To get the job done efficiently, you may need to use a floss threader (shown below). This orthodontic tool will help patients to thread the floss under the arch wire towards the top of the tooth, where it can be placed in between neighboring teeth and then carefully drawn out to loosen food particles and eject bacteria. Some types of floss are designed with a stiff end that makes it easier to thread. This threading process should be repeated for flossing between each pair of teeth.
It’s advisable that patients use wax coated floss, which will glide smoothly through your orthodontic appliances and teeth and won’t be shredded by contact with your brackets. A water or air irrigator may also be helpful to flush food particles and bacteria out of the hard to reach places in your smile.
How Often to Clean Your Teeth with Braces
When you’re wearing braces, it’s more important than ever to brush after each meal and floss at least once a day. However, if you’re eating out and don’t have a toothbrush on hand, you can at least rinse with water to get rid of some of the food particles that may be caught in your braces.
During orthodontic treatment, you should also continue to see your dentist for normal teeth cleanings at least every 6 months.
Younger children may need help and guidance with brushing and flossing while wearing braces, especially at first. Even kids who can brush and floss with braces may need encouragement and reminders to do so, and it’s also helpful for them to understand the importance of keeping their braces clean so they will want to do it.
Why Cleaning Your Teeth with Braces is Important
Neglecting to clean your teeth while wearing braces can also lead to decalcification, which leaves white stains around your brackets that are visible when your braces are removed. These white stains are called “White Spot Lesions” and they are 100% preventable with good oral hygiene.
In addition, it is very important to minimize sugary snacks and acidic beverages such as soda. These types of food can rapidly decalcify tooth structure causing white spot lesions and decay especially if there is poor brushing and flossing.
Avoiding Tooth Decay, White Spot Lesions and Gum Problems
The same reasons behind general dental hygiene still apply with orthodontic patients. However, the risk for plaque is heightened because the brackets, wires and rubber bands provide perfect places for food particles and plaque to become lodged.
This plaque contains bacteria, which become acidic when exposed to carbohydrates. These acids can break down your enamel, leading to tooth decay, cavities, and white spot lesions.
Bacteria surrounding your teeth can also irritate your gums, which can lead to gingivitis and eventually periodontitis. Take the time to learn and use proper oral hygiene during your braces or Invisalign treatment and you can guarantee a healthy smile to last a lifetime!
Hudson Ortho is Here to Help with Dental Hygiene
At Hudson Orthodontics, our staff is here not only to provide the best orthodontic treatment possible in our office, but also to help guide our patients on day to day care for their orthodontic appliances. After all, in between appointments is when the magic happens!
You come back to us a little further along in your treatment plan each time, and if you’re keeping your teeth clean, we can easily make adjustments and send you on your way in no time. Contact our team with any questions about cleaning your teeth with braces or starting your treatment plan today!