Published on December 6, 2018, Updated on December 6, 2018
When you have braces on your teeth, it is particularly important to maintain good oral health through attention to proper oral hygiene. Many people already aren’t brushing or flossing their teeth enough as it is. Adding brackets and wires to the teeth can worsen oral issues if you don’t know how to keep your teeth clean properly. Luckily, oral hygiene can be easy and very effective with a few simple tips and tricks for getting around your orthodontic appliance.
Do you want a healthier smile? Consider getting braces! Studies show that crooked teeth are teeth that are more prone to oral health diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease. This is because the teeth are harder to clean when they are crooked. Sometimes, patients can’t reach areas with a toothbrush and floss can’t pass through the teeth. Cavities start to form and become large because of it.
Studies also show that crooked teeth are more prone to dental emergencies from breaking. In a straight, aligned smile, the teeth all have the same pressure placed on them with biting, chewing, eating, speaking, etc. With crooked teeth, some will be at odd angles that will give them tons of pressure compared to teeth around them. This can cause many tooth breaks, chips, and fractures over time.
Want to avoid all those oral health issues? Get your teeth straightened! Straightening the teeth can reduce or eliminate your risk for a dental break or crack. The teeth become easier to clean and it takes much less time to clean the teeth. Studies show that people react more positively to straight smiles. You are more likely to be hired for a job over competitors with crooked teeth. Others view you as more attractive, wealthy, smart, successful and trustworthy. All because of a straight smile!
You got your braces and started your straightening journey. Now what? You want to take some simple measures every day to keep those braces clean. Brushing your teeth is the most important thing you can do for your smile. When you eat, sugars in your foods and drinks mix with mouth bacteria. That creates an acidic film known as plaque. That plaque will sit around brackets and wires and will break up minerals in your teeth, decaying them over time. That is why we tell patients to brush their teeth after every single meal.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day, but for patients with braces appliances on the teeth 3 times is needed. Because your braces can easily attract and trap food particles, brushing after each meal can help prevent staining. This also reduces the potential for plaque and bacteria buildup. Use a new toothbrush every 3 months or when bristles become frayed. To brush teeth with a regular soft brush, brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth with a bracket. Use fluoride toothpaste and use the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to dislodge food from brackets easier.
It can be harder to floss the teeth with braces, but that is no excuse to skip it. Flossing gets to about 40% of your tooth surfaces that toothbrush bristles can’t adequately clean. That means if you skip flossing, almost half of your tooth surfaces are open to decay. The last thing you want is decay when you get our braces off. With braces, it’s smart to invest in some threadable floss or floss threaders that you can use regular floss with.
Either option will have you thread the tip of the floss through the area where two teeth meet and the gums make a small triangle. You will pass the floss through this small opening and pull it through as if you were threading a needle. Always use the pointed end and insert the floss threader between the teeth, but below the archwire. Gently move it back and forth until it is able to thread the floss between the teeth. Once in place, you can floss the two teeth on either side of where you have inserted the floss. Don’t apply too much force when doing this and don’t push too much pressure against the archwire. Floss at least twice a day. A waterpik tool can help with dislodging food with water. A proxabrush can also get stuck food out of brackets.
Do you visit your dentist on a regular basis? If not, you should. The American Dental Association recommends that all patients visit a dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. Those visits are vital to avoiding problems with tooth decay and gum disease. You still need to be doing those visits even if you are going to an orthodontist regularly.
Depending on your car, you will come to the orthodontic office every 4-6 weeks. These are very important appointments, as we will will adjust your braces, check for signs of poor hygiene and possible signs of decay or oral health issues. Orthodontists are trained in dentistry, so they can spot signs of oral issues. We may not clean your orthodontic appliances, but we will give you pointers on how you should be cleaning your braces. That cleaning is vital to having a beautiful smile when you get your appliance off.
We do see patients that have cavities in their new smiles once the brackets and wires come off. Tooth erosion, stains and dental issues are very common when patients don’t take care of their teeth by keeping their braces clean. Make sure you keep up on your orthodontic visits. Then, make sure you implement the pointers we give you to keep your braces clean. Those can ensure that you have a beautiful, white smile when your braces come off instead of one that has dental decay and stains. For any questions about braces cleaning products and how to use them, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!