Oral Hygiene with Braces
One of the reasons people choose to get braces is because of cosmetic appeal - they make your smile look the best it can look. However, they are not the only factor when considering a healthy-looking and healthy-feeling smile. Additionally to having braces, you need to keep up with cleaning your teeth so when you get your braces off, your teeth will look and feel optimally healthy. Raleigh Family Orthodontics will get you started with your orthodontic appliances, and it is up to you to continue maintaining proper oral health. Read on to find out what you can do to best assist our office and yourself throughout your treatment progress.
Why Do I Need to Maintain My Dental Hygiene?
Maintaining dental hygiene is important because you do not want plaque to build up on your teeth and cause tooth decay. Plaque is a layer of bacteria that accumulates on teeth and can harm your oral health by causing cavities. Plaque is a sticky, colorless bacteria found on your teeth that germs live in, feeding off of sugary foods and producing acid that can attack tooth enamel. If you go a long time without brushing, this acid will eat away at your enamel, and it cannot grow back. Regularly abstaining from brushing and flossing can lead to tooth decay, since the less you remove plaque, the more germs will create an acid that destroys your protective enamel. This enamel also causes teeth to have a white appearance, and this is known as white spot lesions. These lesions are scars on your enamel that will appear if an optimal oral hygiene is not maintained throughout your treatment.
What Do I Need to Do to Maintain Oral Health?
The same tools you need to maintain oral health without braces are also needed when you do have braces, with some additions to account for the appliance. You will need to use toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is naturally found in your teeth and strengthens your enamel, so using toothpaste with fluoride helps fight harmful bacteria. The toothbrush that you choose to brush your teeth with braces should be small enough to clean around the braces and brackets, with soft bristles so as not to damage your braces and wires. This is important since you will be brushing your teeth more often than without braces. You will also need dental floss as usual, but you need to use a floss threader when flossing in order to better help you floss underneath your braces.
How Do I Brush My Teeth With Braces?
Brushing your teeth with braces can be tricky, since you cannot see some parts of the teeth that you need to brush. It is very important to brush both your teeth and gums for at least 5 minutes, on average 5 times a day. You should brush after every meal in order to remove food before plaque settles and builds, as well as when you wake up to rid your teeth and braces of any plaque that has settled and started building from the previous night's sleep. Brushing your teeth before going to bed proactively cleans germs that may build while you sleep, since you will not be brushing for several hours during the night.
The way you brush your teeth when you have braces must be slightly different and more thorough than when you do not, since plaque can build on more surfaces. You should brush at an angle over the top of the bands and the brackets, in a back and forth motion, to get any plaque and food stuck on the appliance. Remember that you still must brush your tongue and gums, using a circular motion to not irritate the skin there. And finally, it is very important to brush biting surfaces to get food packed into the crevices, and surfaces on the inside of your teeth, near your tongue. These surfaces are the most overlooked when it comes to brushing, and should be remembered every time.
How Do I Floss With Braces?
Flossing with braces is about the same as flossing without braces, but there are some rules to be aware of in order to not damage the appliance. You should use a floss threader, which is a small, plastic wand that looks like a big needle. You can attach floss to this tool to thread the floss underneath the archwire, in order to make getting those tough spots less tricky. As always, make sure to thoroughly floss each side of the tooth gently, as plaque can build in between teeth.
Foods to Stay Away From
When you have braces, certain foods can be more detrimental to the appliance because they are more difficult to clean off braces or have the potential to damage them. These foods are usually hard, sticky, and chewy. These foods can cause brackets to be moved or removed from teeth. Foods to stay away from include caramel, corn on the cob, taffy, peanut brittle, hard tack candy, popcorn, and gum. Foods like bagels, raw carrots, and whole apples should be cut into pieces so brackets and wires are not damaged with big bites. Ice should never be chewed when you have braces.
Braces take a lot of effort to maintain, but the process is well worth it for your optimal oral health. If you are ever uncertain whether you should eat a food with your braces, please call Raleigh Family Orthodontics at (984) 254-0585 to speak with one of our professionals, who will help you with any of your needs.