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Flossing with Braces

Cavity Treatment During Braces

Posted on: May 8, 2018

Girl with braces having a dental exam

Did you know that an orthodontist and a dentist are not the same? Only a dentist can help with cavities, gum disease and more, while only an orthodontist can straighten your teeth in a certain way. A patient’s time with braces is a time when cavities happen very quickly, because the teeth are harder to clean. To prevent cavities during your time with braces, it is vital that you continue to see a dentist. If you do happen to get a cavity, find out what that cavity treatment will look like!

 

Proper Oral Hygiene

The American Dental Association recommends that every patient brush their teeth at least twice a day to avoid tooth decay. Brushing after every meal is even better for avoiding plaque buildup that leads to decay. Every patient should also floss their teeth at least once a day. Using fluoride toothpaste is best, because fluoride helps coat the teeth in a protective layer that prevents decay and keeps tooth enamel stronger. Patients can also benefit from mouthwash, as it can kill bacteria that would otherwise create plaque.

 

However, these recommendations are for people that don’t have braces. Every single person—children, teens and adults—should follow these recommendations. Infants should not use fluoride or mouthwash, but their child toothpastes generally have safe amounts of fluoride in them. If you are a patient that is receiving orthodontic care via braces, you have to go the extra mile with your oral hygiene. That means more frequent brushing, more flossing and watching what you eat.

 

Close-up view of braces that are being brushed with a toothbrush

Taking Care of Braces

Braces can be tricky to clean. However, their design provides the best and quickest way for you to straighten your teeth, which is why traditional metal braces have been around for so many decades. Metal braces, ceramic braces and lingual braces all have a brackets-and-wires design.

 

However, with braces, you must be meticulous with cleaning them or you will have food and plaque get stuck places. If you don’t unstick those substances, they will quickly erode your tooth enamel and cause decay around your appliances. This can happen on every tooth as well.

Follow these tips for cleaning your braces:

  • Brush after every single meal. This reduces staining and bacteria buildup. Use a regular soft-bristled brush and brush down from the top, then up from the bottom. Brush in all different directions to dislodge food.
  • Use a threadable floss or a floss threader. Both will require that you thread the floss through each space between your teeth. You will have to go under the wire to do this, and it will take slightly longer than normal flossing. This is one of the most important oral hygiene recommendations to follow!
  • Use helpful tools. A proxabrush is a small braces brush that can help unstick foods. It looks like a tiny Christmas Tree brush. A waterpik is also helpful. This is a tool that helps blast away food particles with a stream of water.

 

Tooth Decay with Braces

Many children and teens skip flossing or brushing here and there. Every time you skip on an oral hygiene habit, it increases your risk for tooth decay—or cavities—with braces. Your time with braces is one where you have to be super careful about your oral health. Most people picture their beautiful smile after getting their braces off, but they don’t think about cavities and tooth erosion. You can end up with tooth decay and parts of your teeth that have eroded due to your oral hygiene habits with braces.

 

Nobody wants to spend 18-24 months perfecting their teeth only to be disappointed in their smile. That’s why oral hygiene is so important. Tooth decay happens rapidly, and it can happen where the brackets are bonded to your teeth and in-between your teeth because it is harder to floss. Normally, you would simply visit the dentist and have your cavity removed and filled. However, cavity treatment is a bit different with braces.

 

Young boy with braces getting a cavity treatment at a dental office

 

Cavity Treatment with Braces

Cavity treatment is slightly harder if you have braces, but not impossible. Generally, decay happens between teeth cracks and around brackets and wires. If you have tooth decay that is in a tricky spot, we can remove your wire so that a dentist can provide you with a proper cavity treatment. You will have to have your appointments scheduled close together (dentist and orthodontist) so that you can get your cavity filled and your wire replaced.

 

In severe cases of tooth decay, we may have to remove a bracket from the tooth if it interferes with the dental work that needs to be done. We only do this in certain cases, and we replace the missing part as soon as possible so your teeth don’t move. Cavity treatment—with taking out the tooth decay and filling it—is the same with braces as it is without, only you have to work around orthodontic appliances if you have braces. Always let us know if you have tooth sensitivity, sharp (and even mild) pain when chewing and if you have sensitivity to hot or cold foods. This signals that there may be a more severe cavity.

 

Prevent Cavity Treatment

The goal of every patient—old and young—is to avoid tooth decay altogether. If you do, you’ll never have to worry about cavity treatment with braces. If your decay is small and in a tricky spot, you may have to wait until your braces are off to receive your cavity treatment. That might make your cavity grow larger, which is something you don’t want. Always see the dentist to check your mouth for tooth decay before you receive orthodontic treatment. This can avoid many problems in the future.

 

If you are prone to getting cavities or you have weak enamel, consider receiving Invisalign treatment instead of getting brackets and wires. This will help you avoid problems with cavities and needing to get cavity treatment. If you have tooth pain or want to learn more about cavity treatment with braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Are Your Teeth Cleaning Habits Good Enough?

Posted on: October 12, 2017

cleaning habits

Braces can keep your teeth straighter, making them more beautiful and attractive. However, if your teeth cleaning habits are poor, your smile will take a hit. How well you take care of your teeth before and during braces will be an indication of how your smile will be after your orthodontic care has come to an end. If you don’t brush and floss the teeth enough, you might damage your smile and weaken your enamel. You must step up your cleaning routine during braces to make sure your smile isn’t full of cavities and oral health problems at the end of your care. We can give you the proper recommendations and guidelines to ensure you keep your smile healthy and strong during your time with braces and throughout life.

 

Brushing With and Without Braces

The American Dental Association recommends brushing and flossing the teeth at least twice a day to keep your mouth healthy and to lower your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. We go beyond that twice-a-day recommendation and suggest that you brush your teeth after every meal. Because your braces can easily attract and trap food particles, brushing after each meal can help prevent staining and reduce the potential for bacteria buildup.

 

You should use a soft-bristled brush and use one that’s size fits your mouth well. For teeth without braces, the ADA recommends brushing the teeth at a 45 degree angle. Brush each individual tooth, making sure to go all the way up to the gumline. You use a soft-bristled brush to avoid irritating the gums and eroding your tooth enamel. With braces, you want to brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth with a bracket. This will help dislodge food particles that have become trapped inside the brackets, which is extremely easy to do. Brushing your teeth multiple times a day is one of the best cleaning habits for avoiding decay.

 

Flossing the Teeth

We recommend flossing your teeth at least once a day. However, that’s for patients that don’t have braces. When you have braces, it’s even more important to floss each and every tooth. It’s also much more time consuming, but the effort you put into your teeth cleaning habits will pay off in the long run. A toothbrush and mouthwash simply can’t get in between the teeth like floss can, so if you skip flossing, you could have food sit and decay your teeth.

 

You will have to use threadable floss or a floss threader to accomplish this feat with brackets. If you use a floss threader for your teeth, think of your cleaning habits like you’re sewing. You floss the eye of the threader through your teeth and below the archwire. Then you floss the space, pull it out and thread once more. Make sure you don’t apply force or pressure against the archwire as you do this. For some patients, it may take about 10 minutes to floss, but it’s worth taking the time to avoid tooth decay.

 

Caring for Braces

Caring for your teeth becomes trickier with braces. You will find that you have to devote some extra time to caring for your braces, as you know have about 32 teeth that all have brackets that can collect food. During your time with braces, it is particularly important to maintain good oral health through attention to proper oral hygiene and cleaning habits. If you don’t, you could have your braces removed only to find that many of your teeth have areas of tooth decay. You could also be left with demineralization that leaves marks on all your teeth where the brackets were.

 

When it comes to caring for your braces, it’s not only important to clear away food particles that are on the teeth, but to be careful of what foods you put into your mouth. To avoid damage to your braces and your teeth during orthodontic treatment, you want to avoid hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar. This means you should avoid eating foods such as hard candy, chips, ice, apples, nuts, popcorn, carrots, corn on the cob, gum, caramel, taffy, licorice, gummies, and similar foods. Prevention is always key for avoid oral health issues!

 

Proper Teeth Cleaning Habits

If you’re going to spend 18-24 months straightening your teeth, you might as well keep those teeth healthy so they look nice at the end of your treatment. Brush your teeth every single day, multiple times a day. Floss as well and be meticulous with your cleaning habits. The better care you take of your braces while they’re on, the more you’ll enjoy your smile when they come off. If you would like help with your cleaning habits or tips, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016!

oral hygiene

Millions of Americans don’t practice good oral hygiene, which is the #1 reason teeth decay and fall out. Good oral hygiene coupled with good nutrition can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and even bad breath. It will also help us to be able to straighten your teeth without damage and provide you with a more brilliant, beautiful smile. There are many tips for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Many of these tips have to do with nutrition and overall good oral hygiene. Good nutrition can aid in better health for you and for your teeth. We want all of our patients to be able to achieve a healthy mouth, but the first steps begin before you even come to our office. At Belmar Orthodontics, learn more about good oral hygiene and how orthodontic care can help you!

 

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Sometimes, the basics are the hardest to do because they seem so simple. You skip brushing one night, then you do it again, and soon it starts to become a habit. When it comes to braces, we see patients skip on the basics here and there all the time. Why? This is most likely because braces take a little bit longer to care for than teeth without braces. Skipping on proper brushing and flossing can seriously damage and erode the tooth enamel.

 

The Prevalence of Decay

We recommend brushing and flossing at least twice a day, if not more. After every meal would be ideal, but not everyone makes a habit of doing that. What happens when you don’t brush and floss the teeth properly? You develop dental caries. The American Dental Association reports that 91% of adults 20 years old and older have had dental caries. 27% had untreated tooth decay. What does this mean? It means that 91% of people have had cavities and 27% had untreated cavities that will continue decaying. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States in both children and adults. The sad part? It’s completely preventable.

 

Tooth decay occurs when proper oral hygiene practices are not followed. When we eat and drink, bacteria in the mouth mixes with sugar to make acidic plaque. That plaque coats your teeth and over time, erodes the hard tooth enamel. Inside the tooth is a soft, pulpy center that contains nerves and sensitive parts of the tooth. When hygiene practices are skipped, that plaque will erode the teeth enough to break down the enamel and seep into the soft, pulpy center. It will then have a heyday and cause as much decay as it possibly can. Mild tooth decay will result in fillings for cavities. Severe tooth decay will result in a root canal or a dental extraction.  The great part about all of this? Tooth decay is completely preventable! All you have to do is take care of your oral health!

 

Be Extra Careful with Braces

Braces make cleaning the teeth slightly more tricky, but definitely not impossible! With braces, you generally have brackets that are glued to each tooth. A wire connects those brackets on the upper and lower jaws. Brackets and wires in your mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck. This leads to other dental issues if proper care is not taken. Here are some tips to help prevent tooth decay:

  • Brush after every meal. Brushing will help prevent staining and will reduce the potential for bacteria buildup. Food can easily become trapped in the brackets and can erode the tooth enamel around the brackets. Make sure to use a soft brush to brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each bracket and tooth.
  • Use a floss threader. You can’t skip flossing when it comes to braces as it’s even more important now than ever. Tooth decay often happens between the teeth with braces. Using a floss threader will allow you to insert the floss through the teeth and above or below the wire. This allows you to clean effectively in between each tooth. Do this several times a day!
  • Avoid certain foods. Hard foods are a no-no with braces and can break brackets or become stuck in the teeth. Avoid hard candy, chips, ice, apples, crusty bread, nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob, carrots and any other hard candies. Avoid chewy candies or foods such as caramel, toffee, taffy, starbursts, licorice, tootsie rolls, gummy bears and more. For a more comprehensive list of food items, you can always call our office.

 

Over 64 million Americans suffer from gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay. Poor dental hygiene and tooth decay make orthodontic care that much harder to perform. The point is to get your smile straight and beautiful without making it weaker. Our orthodontic techniques are effective and strong when it comes to getting your teeth in proper position. We want all our patients to have beautiful, straight and strong smiles. It’s vital that you follow proper oral hygiene practices every single day and that you double your efforts while wearing braces. If you need help with your oral hygiene routine or braces maintenance, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016.

Tips for Flossing with Braces

Posted on: December 9, 2016

Flossing with Braces

Flossing with braces isn’t as tricky as you might first assume.  This essential skill is worth learning how to perform correctly. Floss reaches surfaces of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t. Your orthodontic appliance can trap food more easily than before.  The need for flossing with braces is never more important than when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment! We will show you your options for flossing with braces when you receive them.  If you ever feel challenged with the process, give our office a call! At Belmar Orthodontics, caring for your teeth is our top priority.  

 

Flossing with Braces

Flossing helps remove excess food debris and plaque–the invisible film that builds up on your teeth and feeds on your tooth enamel causing tooth decay.  The addition of archwires and brackets to your teeth means flossing with braces requires more steps than before. The good news is, with a little practice and with the tools available, soon flossing with braces will be second nature to you.  The following tools are commonly used during orthodontic treatment for flossing:

  • Floss
  • Floss Threader
  • Floss Picks
  • Water Flosser
  • Proxy Brushes

 

Floss Threader

A helpful tool called a floss threader can assist you with the more traditional flossing with braces method.  Floss threaders help you place the floss behind your braces.  A floss threader looks similar to a small plastic needle.  Thread a piece of floss into the eye of the floss threader then move the plastic needle under the archwire of your braces and pull the floss through.  After the floss is under the archwire you can floss your teeth like you normally would. When you are done with one tooth, remove the floss and repeat the process with the same floss threader.

 

Floss Picks

Floss picks are a popular product for many orthodontics patients.  Floss picks hold the floss for you, making it extremely convenient since you only have to use one hand. While they may be convenient, they are not as effective as regular floss. Floss picks do not allow you to reach all the necessary angles that normal floss can. When you floss, you should strive to complete a “C” around the tooth and go up and down to completely clean the tooth.  While regular floss is recommended, floss picks are better than not flossing at all if you find the traditional method isn’t working for you. Remember, the staff at Belmar Orthodontics is here to help you with flossing with braces so you are comfortable with the process.

 

Water Flossers

Water flosser (or “oral irrigator”) are another popular tool used to help with flossing with braces.  Much like the name suggests, water flossers are flossing devices that use a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. Water flossers not only remove plaque, but they also improve your gingival health. The machine has a water reservoir that connects to a device resembling a toothbrush.  By adding mouthwash to the water in your water flosser you can also increase the antibacterial protection this tool offers you.

 

Proxy Brush

Proxy brushes are small, flexible, pointed brushes that have bristles that look similar to a pine tree. Their unique shape makes them ideal for cleaning behind braces.  To use a proxy brush,  insert the brush under the wire and between the teeth, then scrub to clean. You can also use a bit of toothpaste on the proxy brush for a better cleaning. It is important to note that proxy brushes are NOT suggested as a replacement for flossing with braces.  They should be used along with flossing to ensure that all the areas around your teeth stay clean.

 

Steps for Traditional Flossing with Braces

If you decide not to use a water flosser, floss threader, floss pick or proxy brush and want to use traditional floss, you can! Follow the steps below for success with traditional flossing with braces:

 

Steps for Flossing with Braces

  1. Pick a waxed floss. A lot of people prefer wax-coated floss because it slides in and out of your teeth more easily than unwaxed floss.
  2. Tear off a piece of floss that is about 12-18 inches in length.
  3. Gently thread the floss behind the archwire.
  4. Grab the ends of the floss in each hand. Wrap the floss ends around your fingers to secure your grip.
  5. Move your index finger inside your mouth gently moving the floss so that it cleans the spaces between your teeth.
  6. Move the floss up and down cleaning the sides of your teeth–the sides your toothbrush can’t clean. Complete a “C” around the tooth and go up and down to completely clean the tooth.
  7. Carefully remove the floss so that it doesn’t catch on your brackets
  8. Repeat for each tooth until all teeth have been thoroughly cleaned

 

Supervise Children Undergoing Interceptive Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment in young children (ages 6 or 7) is known as interceptive orthodontics.  It is important to understand that children at this age don’t have the dexterity required to succeed with flossing.  These children will need parental help with flossing their teeth. Since helping your child floss her teeth can take some time, it might be helpful to have your child sit, and possibly watch or listen to a favorite program/music while you floss.  

 

Flossing Takes Time

Don’t feel discouraged when you begin flossing your teeth for the first time with braces.  Expect the process to take longer than the time it took you to floss your teeth previously.  Even though flossing make take more time with braces, understand that flossing is essential when you are wearing orthodontic appliances to avoid tooth decay and problems that could delay your orthodontic treatment progress.  Bleeding when you floss is NOT unusual after you have braces applied to your teeth.  Teeth will experience some inflammation after your braces are placed.

 

Tips to Make Flossing with Braces Easier

  • Swish with water before brushing.  Rinsing with water after eating helps to loosen and dislodge food that may be caught in the braces.
  • Brush your teeth before flossing.  To help remove particles of food more easily from your braces and loosen the stuck particles.
  • Use waxed floss.  So it doesn’t catch on braces and leave behind shreds of floss.
  • Floss at least once a day. Flossing helps loosen food debris and plaque at and under the gum line that would otherwise harden into tartar. It can also help reach the nooks and crannies in the teeth that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
  • Use a fluoride rinse.  After brushing and right before bed, use a fluoride rinse to help keep teeth strong and healthy.
  • Schedule a dental visits every six months.  Include your dentist in your orthodontic treatment process to ensure your teeth are staying strong and protected during your orthodontic treatment.

 

Call for a Treatment Consultation

Life with braces brings exciting changes, and sometimes some challenging adjustments too, but the end result is a healthier you!  Belmar Orthodontics can help you obtain a healthy, functional, attractive smile.  If you need help with flossing with braces, our online patient education can help answer any questions you may have, and our friendly staff is always available to help.  Call 303.225.9016 today to learn more about braces or to schedule an appointment.  Dr. Hardy is committed to your care and will help you reach your smile goals as quickly and efficiently as possible if you need braces.