You knew brushing and flossing was important before you got your braces…and you were right. But all patients undergoing orthodontic treatment need to be even more committed to good oral hygiene.
With braces on it is more difficult to brush and floss your teeth… but it is also much more important. Why? The braces trap food very easily, and this results in plaque formation. If plaque is not carefully and consistently removed from your teeth and around your braces, you run the risk of developing gum disease, dental decay, enamel scarring and bad breath. Plaque is a mixture of bacteria and food particles. The bacteria feed on sugars and produce acids. The acids irritate your gums, erode the enamel on your teeth and cause bad breath.
It's important to remove the plaque thoroughly and often. Then, when your braces come off, the teeth underneath will be healthy and strong and look good. Here are some tips to help you.
DO I NEED TO SEE MY REGULAR DENTIST FOR CLEANINGS DURING ORTHO?
YES!!! You need to maintain visits with your dentist for tooth cleanings and exams during your braces. We recommend seeing your dentist every 3-4 months while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment
TOOTH BRUSHING INSTRUCTIONS
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
The most important thing is to look for a brush that's soft and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). After that, the size of the brush, the shape of the handle and other variations are up to you.
What about an electric toothbrush? It's not necessary, but if you have one, it's safe to use it on your braces and Dr DiGiovanni recommends electric (rotary or sonic) toothbrushes as they have observed most patients who use electric brushes maintain better hygiene.
Brush at least three times a day for at least 3-4 minutes each time.
Brush after each meal to make sure there's no food trapped in or around braces. "It's important to brush the braces and all the surfaces of the teeth, that is, the inside and outside surface and the chewing surfaces, too. Pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums. You should take at least three to four minutes each time you brush. It's best to use a timer (like the cool one we provided you with) to make sure you are brushing long enough.
Floss at least once a day.
It is definitely more tricky flossing with braces but special flossing products can help make it easier for you. These include floss threaders, super floss and other products designed for patients with braces. We will take a lot of time the first visit (and whenever needed) on flossing techniques. If you're not sure you're doing it right, ask us during your next visit.
WHAT ABOUT FLUORIDE WHILE WEARING BRACES?
We recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste-typically Prevident.
We like our patients to use Prevident toothpaste while wearing braces. This prescription toothpaste is stronger than over-the-counter brands and is an additional defense to prevent decalcification, cavities and other bad things that can happen if you don't properly take care of your teeth while you have braces.
- Place a pea-size amount of toothpaste on your brush and brush as instructed.
- When finished brushing SPIT OUT BUT DO NOT RINSE WITH WATER
For over-the-counter brands..Make sure it has the ADA seal of approval.
For more fluoride, try an over-the-counter fluoride rinse like the sample of ACT we provided you the day your braces were placed to help protect and strengthen teeth during orthodontic treatment.
TOOLS TO HELP YOU
Rubber-tipped and end-tuft or single-tuft brushes: These are special brushes that help you to get into tough to reach areas, as well as between your teeth. The end-tuft or single-tuft brushes look something like pipe cleaners.
Oral irrigators like a Water Pic: These instruments shoot small streams of water onto your teeth at high pressure to remove food particles. They can be used as an aid in your oral hygiene, but not in place of brushing and flossing.
Disclosing solutions or tablets: Your dentist may have used these during an office visit to see where you tend to miss spots after brushing. Disclosing tablets and solutions use vegetable dye to highlight plaque or debris in your mouth. We will give you some samples of these. You can find them on-line or in a drugstore and use them at home.
If you have questions about how to use any oral hygiene product, even your toothbrush, call us or ask us when you have your monthly visit.
With braces on you need to think twice about eating foods that could increase your risk of cavities and those very ugly decalcification spots. You also should avoid anything that might damage your braces or wires. Frequently breaking your braces will add to the overall treatment time and could incur additional costs.
Stay away from hard and sticky foods. Caramel, hard candy…you get the idea. They can damage your braces and cause your teeth to move the wrong way! They also get stuck in the wires and brackets. it providing lots of sugar for cavity-causing bacteria to munch on. Cut down on all sugary foods. You can still have a limited amount of sweets and a soda once in a while but remember the more sugars you eat, the greater your risk of tooth decay or decalcification.