Wearing braces requires patience and discipline. Often, the result of treatment can be more than just a healthy smile, as your orthodontist is also preventing bigger problems from developing later.
Proper oral care at home is important because it will help keep your treatment time on course and might even help reduce it. Furthermore, it will contribute to the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
Here at Dentalcare West, our dental professionals are all highly skilled, qualified practitioners with many years of experience. At each visit, we'll make sure everything is on track, but in between visits it's important that you are giving your teeth the right care at home. Here are a few helpful tips:
Extra time is needed to clean and brush your teeth properly.
This is important as braces can act as a plaque trap, increasing the amount of plaque in your mouth, which can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease. Good oral hygiene will prevent dental caries appearing whilst wearing braces.
How do I clean all areas of my mouth while wearing braces?
First, take off any elastic bands and removable parts (like plates or aligners).
One recommended brushing method is to place your brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum. Apply gentle pressure as you brush with a short back-and-forth motion, cleaning each tooth individually for about 10 seconds.
Use the same brushing motion on all inner and outer tooth surfaces. Don't forget to brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth - and make sure you reach the teeth in the back, too.
Finish by cleaning around your braces, brushing first from the top and then from the bottom. Brush gently and take care not to break or bend any of the brackets or wires.
It should take at least 2 minutes each time you brush, and with braces we recommend cleaning three times a day, instead of twice.
How do I floss with fixed braces?
Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth and under your gum line-areas beyond the reach of your toothbrush. In fact, if you don't floss, you're leaving up to 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched and unclean.
Choose a "threading floss" such as SuperFloss made by OralB, with a stiffened end that threads it through the gap between each tooth - above the wire for your upper teeth and below the wire for your lower teeth.
Curve the floss around each tooth in a "C" shape and gently move it up and down the side of each tooth, including under the gum line.
Cleaning a removable appliance like a plate
After you take the plate out of your mouth, brush and clean between your teeth in the normal way. Then, using your toothbrush and toothpaste, clean your appliance, rinsing thoroughly with water afterwards. It should look clean and smooth, not white and furry.
Also, make sure that you gently brush the gum areas that are covered by your appliance. This includes the roof of your mouth if you wear the appliance on your top teeth.
Care with your diet
Careless eating may break wires or loosen brackets, which will prolong your treatment. Here are a few tips that will help ensure your braces stay in tip-top shape:
- Do not eat lollies, nuts, popcorn or chew gum with the braces
- Avoid soft drinks which damage the enamel and soften it
- Apples and hard pieces of fruit must be cut into smaller pieces
- No toffees or similar foods.
Note, if you do accidentally break or loosen a bracket, please let us know at the start of your next appointment.
You'll need to make a few small changes to your daily routine while wearing braces, plates or Invisalign. These include:
- Monthly visits to the dentist to have the braces tightened and checked
- A mouthguard should be worn if playing sports
- Carry a toothbrush with you as often as possible to keep things clean.
Which products are best for braces?
Orthodontic toothbrushes have bristles trimmed in a 'V' shape for cleaning above and below the brackets and wire.
Power toothbrushes can remove more plaque than ordinary manual toothbrushes. And some of the newer ones have brush heads specifically made for use with braces
Interdental brushes have very small heads with fine bristles, perfect for cleaning under wires and between teeth.
An orthodontist may recommend using a combination of home care products in your daily routine.
Do I still need to see my regular dentist?
Yes. Your dentist will work with you to help you do the best job possible in caring for your teeth and gums.