Tips for a Beautiful New Smile
It's important to educate yourself on proper dental and orthodontic care for your braces. Here are some tips for taking care of your braces.
Take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment. By brushing and flossing regularly, you'll keep your teeth and gums in top condition and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest smile possible.
When your braces come off, you'll see that your extra efforts have been rewarded with a healthy, great-looking smile that's good for life. Failure to spend a little extra time on caring for your braces can result in white spots on your teeth once the braces are removed, an unsightly condition that no one wants.
Doing Your Part
A successful orthodontic treatment and a healthy and beautiful smile is the result of a team effort among you, your doctor, and your family dentist.
As the patient, you play the key part. It's up to you to ensure that your treatment plan ends in success. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth clean and maintain good dental hygiene while you're wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort but the results are well worth it and will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Plaque is the Enemy
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that collects on your teeth. It's composed of bacteria, food, and saliva.
If plaque and trapped food are left on your teeth and around your braces, they can cause swollen gums, bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks on your teeth. As your orthodontists, we advise brushing your teeth regularly to remove this plaque.
Additionally, we teach all of our patients the proper methods of flossing while in braces to ensure that all plaque is removed on a regular basis.
When to Clean
Brush thoroughly after each time you have a meal or snack. If you can't brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.
Carry a travel toothbrush so that you can brush when away from home. At least once every day, brush your teeth and braces thoroughly until they are spotlessly clean, and then floss. This takes a little extra time, so you may want to do it at night before going to bed.
How to Brush
Throughout your treatment, you'll need to relearn the basics of brushing your teeth. Relearning this everyday task will teach you to pay attention to the cracks and crevices not only between teeth but around brackets and wires.
Keep these tips in mind when brushing your teeth with braces:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush that’s in good condition. Because braces wear out a toothbrush quickly, replace your brush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
- Brush around all the parts of your braces and every surface of your teeth — fronts, sides and backs. Be sure to brush your tongue and
roof of the mouth. A good way to tell if you’re brushing correctly is if your braces look clean and shiny and you
can see the edges of the brackets clearly.
- Brush your gums gently and thoroughly.
- Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
- Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact us to see if it needs to be checked out and if time needs to be scheduled to make a repair.
How to Floss
Our helpful staff will help you learn proper flossing techniques when you choose us for your orthodontic care. These tips for flossing with braces will make the process smoother for you, and you'll be a pro in no time.
- Floss every night before you go to bed. That way, you won’t feel rushed.
- When flossing with braces on, it might be necessary to use what’s called a floss threader. This reusable tool allows you to get dental floss underneath your archwire easily.
- Make sure you clean carefully along and under the gumlines.
- Flossing with braces on may seem like a difficult process, but it’s very important. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot faster.
Other Hygiene Helpers
In addition to the regular dental hygiene tools we are familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products we can recommend that make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Fagala. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Power Toothbrush or Waterpik: These devices, such as the Oral-B Professional Series toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the build-up of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the build-up of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if it’s ignored it can get worse. Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding, or swollen and puffy gums. Carefully follow our directions on hygiene to avoid these problems.
*Some Video and Text Courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontists