Maintaining a good oral health routine is extremely important if you’ve got braces. If you don’t, you run the risk of having food caught in your appliance for extended periods of time, uneven staining after removal, and even accelerated tooth decay in some cases. To ensure you’re happy with the results of your treatment, there are a few extra steps you should add to the beginning and end of your day. Let’s go over these–as well as some additional hygiene tips–in the rest of this post.
It Starts with What You Eat
If you’ve got braces, your orthodontist will have told you to avoid certain foods. This can be annoying, but it’s certainly for a good reason. Sticky foods like gum and caramel can easily get caught in wires and brackets, leading to hard-to-remove build-up. Remembering to avoid these foods in the first place is the best strategy.
Hard foods like nuts don’t pose the same risk of gumming up your appliance, but you should still be wary of them. Chewing nuts or ice can damage your braces, meaning you’ll have to take time out of your day to have repairs done. Avoid the hassle by cutting these kinds of foods out completely, or eating them in softer, smaller forms.
Whether you’ve got braces or not, you should also watch your intake of highly acidic foods. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Soft drinks
- Citrus fruits
Of course, you don’t have to cut these out completely, but you should be aware that acid damages tooth enamel over time. The less acid that you subject your teeth to, the more healthy they’ll be.
Create the Routine
No matter who you are, you should make it a priority to brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. Regular brushing eliminates stubborn food particles, keeps the mouth healthy, and leads to fresh breath. There are tons of benefits to maintaining a healthy mouth, some of which are less obvious than others. For example, some scientific research points to an increased likelihood of heart attack in those who don’t brush regularly. You get a lot more than fresh breath out of your commitment to regular brushing, but that’s certainly a nice bonus.
Let’s go through a daily brushing routine with braces, shall we? You’ve just rolled out of bed, and your mouth’s got that trademark unpleasant feeling. It’s time to get that grimy feeling off your teeth. Arriving at your sink, you’d just start brushing your teeth without any extra steps. If you’ve got braces, though, you should remove any elastic bands before you begin. Allowing for easier access, and you can give the rubber bands a once over while they’re out to make sure everything’s looking clean.
Take a Look
After setting those aside, take a second to check your braces in the mirror. Make sure to examine every angle that you can. You’re just making sure that everything’s looking right and that there are no glaring issues. Once this becomes second nature to you, you’ll have an easier time quickly spotting anything out of the ordinary. Broken brackets or wires can sometimes go unnoticed for extended periods of time, potentially causing slow-downs in your treatment. Be careful to stay on top of it.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Now it’s time to brush! Make sure to get toothpaste with fluoride, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Begin cleaning in just about the same way you normally would, but pay extra attention to the areas behind your wires and around your brackets. Do your best to get in all the nooks and crannies without being too rough. Brush for about two minutes, but don’t be afraid to take a little extra time to get all over your braces.
For even more detailed instructions on brushing, check out this article from Colgate.
Some people believe that braces make flossing their teeth impossible. This just isn’t the case, though it may seem difficult to maneuver dental floss around your appliance at first. In fact, it’s very important to floss when you’ve got braces on, as there are simply more areas where food can become trapped.
You should begin by finding some waxed dental floss. Unwaxed floss can sometimes get caught on brackets and shred, leading to an annoying clean-up process. Once you’ve got the right stuff, snap off a thread of about 18 inches or so. Place the thread between the teeth–being careful around your wire–and gently move it up and down. Moving slowly will prevent snapping, discomfort, and bending of your wire.
A Quick Fix
Between your morning and evening hygiene routines, you might find yourself with food particles caught in your braces from lunch or a snack. Instead of harboring these passengers through the afternoon, it might be more comfortable to dislodge them as soon as you can. To do this, many people with braces use a Waterpik. These use a safe, high-pressure stream of water to get into those hard to reach places.
It’s important to note that–while this device is helpful and effective–it isn’t a one-to-one replacement for traditional floss. Feel free to use both, or only the Waterpik if you’re in a hurry, but don’t throw out that floss.
If You’re Unsure…
When it comes to healthcare, the best advice comes from a meeting with a professional. If you’ve got further questions about how to care for your braces, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your orthodontist. This kind of communication is crucial to us at Smile Ortho; we always value patient understanding and open communication.
If you’re in the Santa Rosa or Windsor, California area, feel free to give us a call at 707.546.8600 to get orthodontic advice. You can also visit this contact form if that’s more your speed. Happy brushing!