Braces are an investment so it is critical to take care of your teeth during your orthodontic treatment to ensure that when your braces are removed your teeth are not only straight, but most importantly, healthy. Keeping your teeth clean while you are wearing braces does not have to be a chore. Just be sure to be thorough and consistent with your brushing and flossing and diligent about the types of food you eat. Following are some guidelines and tips to help you make sure your teeth and gums stay in tiptop condition while you are wearing braces.
Eating healthy and consuming foods that will not damage your braces or cause tooth decay is key during orthodontic treatment. Be sure to minimize sugar and avoid hard, chewy and sticky foods while you are wearing braces.
Forbidden Hard Foods
Forbidden Chewy Foods
Tips for preventing damage to braces & teeth:
- Whole fruits & veggies such as apples and carrots should be cooked or cut into small pieces and eaten carefully.
- Avoid chewing on hard objects such as pens and pencils.
- Stay away from soda pop and drinks that contain high amounts of sugar.
- If you have to eat or drink something with sugar, plan to brush and rinse your teeth as soon as possible.
- Save whitening products for use after you get your braces taken off. You don’t want to get your braces removed to discover that your teeth have yellow squares where the braces blocked the whitening product from working.
The components of braces, which consist of brackets, wires, rubber bands and springs which trap just about every type of food. As a result, in order to prevent plaque buildup, tooth decay and gum inflammation, you must thoroughly clean your teeth after each meal.
If you want to use a regular manual toothbrush, then choose a soft one with sleek bristles. If you use a toothbrush with medium bristles, it may wear down the gum line and may cause sensitivity issues over time. Select a toothbrush that has a round head because it is easier to guide around brackets and wires than most rectangular head toothbrush. The bristles in round toothbrush heads do not get caught in the brackets and wires as often and experience less wear and tear.
But there are better options that can increase your ability to maintain your oral health properly by choosing a specially designed orthodontic toothbrush. You will be able to recognize such toothbrushes because their bristles in the middle are lower than the bristles on their edges and thus they appear to have a “V” shape. These types of toothbrushes are configured to make it easier to clean underneath wires and around brackets. Similarly, there are some orthodontic toothbrushes that are bent at the neck to make it easier to clean braces and there are others with opposing pincer bristles that actually wrap around the braces during cleaning.
It is also helpful to purchase a small spiral dental brush, which resembles a small bottle cleaning brush or pipe cleaner to help clean your braces. This type of toothbrush is often referred to as an interproximal brush or a proxibrush. Another similar device called a rubber-tipped stimulator or gum massager can also be used to help clean food particles from around brackets and under wires. Using a sonic toothbrush, such as an Oral-B will significantly reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
You should brush your teeth after each meal. If you cannot brush right away, rinse well with water. Start by rinsing your mouth a couple of times to dislodge any food that can be easily removed from your wires or brackets. You can either use warm water or a pre-brush mouth rinse to do so.
- Use a dry brush with a small amount of toothpaste. Place bristles where gums and teeth meet.
- Use circular, vibrating motions around the gum lines, 10 seconds on each tooth.
- Brush slowly, each arch separately, every tooth.
- Brush the lower teeth up and the upper teeth down.
- Be sure to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth for optimal oral health.
Flossing should be done nightly after brushing in order to remove plaque and particles that your toothbrush may have missed. It is best to use any type of waxed dental floss and a floss threader, which is a small plastic device that allows you to gently bring standard types of floss under orthodontic wires for each bracket in your mouth. Alternatively, in order to simplify the process, you can purchase some specially manufactured threader floss, which is simply floss produced at various lengths and each segment has a built in threader at its end. Another product which will enhance, but should not replace the cleaning provided by dental floss is a Waterpik, which when used along with floss will provide a thorough cleaning to the teeth and gums.
- Carefully pull floss between wire and braces.
- Floss carefully around the braces.
- Floss carefully around the gum area.
- Floss carefully around each tooth.
What type of toothpaste should be used?
If you have especially sensitive teeth or gums, you should choose a toothpaste that will help alleviate your symptoms, which is available at your local drugstore. Additionally, it is best to avoid using a whitening toothpaste because it will not be able to penetrate behind the brackets that are on your teeth. After the braces are removed you will be left with areas on your teeth that are visibly darker than the rest of the teeth.