To be fully successful, orthodontia has to be a team effort between you, your dentist, and your orthodontist. Your regular dentist can help you maintain healthy teeth with professional cleanings and checkups and your orthodontist will straighten your teeth using a unique treatment plan — when you choose to work with us here at The Wright Center for Orthodontics, Dr. Chad Wright or Dr. John Feusier will oversee your care — but it’s up to you to care for your teeth while you have Braces. Yes, caring for braces takes more time and effort than regular oral health care, but it can be critical to how well your braces work and how long you have to wear them.
Follow Your Orthodontist’s Instructions
During your initial treatment, our team will give you specific instructions regarding caring for your braces. Following these instructions is vitally important for a successful orthodontic experience. Oral hygiene is always important, but people with braces have to take special care to make sure that they don’t get plaque build up.
Plaque is a thin, colorless deposit made up of saliva, bacteria, and food that is constantly forming on everyone’s teeth. As plaque deposits increase, they become gooey and white. When this happens, you can see it and often feel it. Have you ever felt like your teeth were fuzzy? That was probably plaque buildup.The bacteria that lives in plaque feed on sugars and produce damaging acids that attack your gums and tooth enamel, causing cavities and other oral health problems like gum disease and halitosis (that’s bad breath, if you didn’t know).
Food particles and plaque build up easily around your braces, which can lead to bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks or discoloration on your teeth. Because of this, it’s critical that you take great care of your teeth when you have braces.
Brushing and Flossing with Braces
Brushing with Braces
As with regular oral care, orthodontic care starts with brushing your teeth. When you have braces, you should use a soft bristled brush, moderate force, and a fluoride toothpaste. Small circular brushing motions should be used to clean each tooth above, below, and between each brace. Holding the brush at about a 45° angle will help you clean under the wires of your braces. When brushing around braces, your toothbrush will wear out faster than usual, so it’s important to replace it when the bristles start to fray.
It would be optimal if you brush every time you eat during the day — including snacks — but at the very least you should brush four times per day:
- After Eating Breakfast
- After Eating Lunch
- After Eating Dinner
- At Bedtime
Carrying a travel toothbrush with you will make this easier. If you absolutely can’t brush, make sure you use water to rinse your mouth thoroughly after eating.
Brushing is important, but it isn’t enough. Keep reading for more orthodontic care tips.
Flossing with Braces
Sorry, braces won’t get you out of flossing, they’ll just make it more complicated. Dental floss is used to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth, which is why it’s so important when you have braces. Flossing twice per day would be ideal, but once per day is absolutely required for healthy teeth. There are two common methods of flossing with braces that you can choose from:
- Using Superfloss
- Using a Reusable Floss Threader
Superfloss, unlike regular dental floss, has a stiff, straight end that allows it to be inserted between the teeth from the front rather than worked between the teeth. It should be inserted between each set of teeth above the wire part of your braces. Carefully pass it up and down in a c-shape against each tooth, taking care not to pull on or jar your wires.
The other method involves a reusable floss threader. This little tool looks a lot like a thin, flexible needle with a large eye. By threading regular dental floss through the eye of the floss threader, you can pull it under the wire on your braces, allowing you to insert the floss between your teeth. Again, care should be taken so that you don’t bend your orthodontic gear.
Regardless of which flossing method you choose, remember to rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Additional Orthodontic Care
Using an Interdental Toothbrush
It’s not enough to clean your teeth, you have to clean your braces too. Using a tool called an interdental toothbrush — also known as a Proxabrush or a “Christmas Tree” brush — you should clean underneath your wires and around each brace. Use this tool gently so that you don’t damage the wires.
Using Antibacterial Mouthwash
Your last step should be to use a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse like Colgate Peroxyl. We recommend this type of rinse because it can help decrease irritation that your braces may cause and reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. You should use this rinse every time you brush your teeth and braces. Because Peroxyl promotes healing inside your mouth, it can help with irritation caused by braces, canker sores, cheek bites, and other minor injuries in your mouth.
As you can see, caring for braces is a bit more complicated than regular oral hygiene, but it’s also critically important. If you take care of your teeth and braces, you’ll find yourself with a beautiful, straight smile before you know it.