Oral Hygiene with Braces
Importance of Excellent Oral Hygiene:
While maintaining great oral hygiene is important for everyone, it becomes absolutely necessary with braces. While braces act as a guide for your teeth, bringing everything into alignment, they also can act as a trap for food which, if left in place can cause gum swelling and bleeding in as little as 10 hours. If left longer than that, the trapped food can cause decay (cavities) and tooth discoloration (decalcification). No one wants cavities or decalcification when they get their braces off, and by following the steps below every day, you can be sure that your teeth will stay beautiful.
With braces, it is essential that you brush your teeth after every meal to remove food particles that might be hidden from view. Brushing after every meal includes brushing after lunch at school or work. This means that you will want to keep a spare toothbrush and toothpaste in your cubby or locker at school or in the break room at work. If you do not have a way to store your toothbrush and toothpaste at work, consider getting travel size toothpaste and brushes and carrying them with you in a sandwich baggie.
Brushing your teeth with braces is a little different than brushing teeth that are brace-free. To ensure you are getting both above and under the brackets, practice brushing at an angle. This will allow the toothbrush bristles to clear out food particles that might be stuck at your gum line as well as knock loose anything under the wire. In addition to brushing at an angle, you will want to replace your toothbrush a little more often as the brackets and wires wear on toothbrush bristles a little faster than brace-free teeth. There are toothbrushes on the market that have bristles designed especially for easy navigation around braces, but a normal toothbrush used the correct way will work just as well.
Flossing with braces definitely provides more of a challenge than flossing normally as you have more obstacles such as the brackets, wires and sometimes elastics to maneuver around. However, despite the extra bit of effort needed, flossing is absolutely necessary to keep your teeth healthy and clean while in braces. Fortunately, there are a number of tools to help flossing when in braces much easier. Floss threaders are one such tool, and look like a giant, flexible sewing needle. Simply thread your preferred dental floss through the hole in the threader and slide the threader under your wires to floss between your teeth one at a time.
For those wanting to save time and avoid having use a floss threader, there are a couple of other options, too. Flosser picks, which are shaped like little pitchforks, are pre-threaded and allow you to easily floss from one tooth to the next. Ensure the flossers you purchase are designed for braces though, as some of the general flossers are too wide to fit under the wires. Our office recommends the Plackers for Orthodontics which can be ordered online. You might still need to use the threaders if you have some brackets that are close together and inhibit the flosser’s reach.
Waterpiks also allow for speedy flossing, but rather than using dental floss to clear out debris between your teeth, they use high powered bursts of water to blast out the gunk. They are a little more expensive than traditional flossing methods, but are very effective, long-lasting, and are great for use after braces as well as during your orthodontic treatment. You can find Waterpiks in stores, but our office also offers them at a discount over retail to our patients.
As an extra precaution, our office recommends each patient use a fluoride rinse in addition to their normal oral hygiene routine. While it is not required, a fluoride rinse acts as an extra preventative step against cavities. Our office uses and recommends the fluoride rinse Phos-Flur, which comes in two flavors, mint or grape, and we sell it at a discount to our patients. When using a fluoride rinse, follow the instructions on the bottle which may vary from brand to brand. In general, the fluoride rinse will be the last thing you do at night before bed. After using it, do not rinse with water, eat or drink anything to allow the fluoride to sit on the teeth undisturbed.
For more information on oral hygiene while in braces, orthodontic treatment in general, or to schedule an exam, call your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics in Indiana. For our fishers office, call 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.