Woman with glasses smiling with braces

Good oral hygiene is one of the most important goals that we should all have to maintain the health and strength of our teeth and gums. Once we get braces, however, our oral hygiene regimen will change to account for the new appliance in our mouths that we will have to clean around. Whether you have traditional braces or lingual braces, cleaning around the brackets and wires is essential in preventing cavities and tooth decay. There are many options to choose from to clean between teeth, such as a proxabrush, and other tools to thoroughly brush around the brackets, such as an electric toothbrush. Find out what all you can do to keep your smile healthy and bright with braces with these tips!

 

Extra Care For Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic care is one of the most helpful and important dental treatments that patients have readily available to them. While there are many versions of braces that help straighten our teeth and fix misaligned bites, there are certain precautions that we need to take to ensure proper care for our orthodontic appliances and teeth. Brackets and wires in the mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck in, which can lead to dental problems, like cavities. Proper oral hygiene is essential during your time with braces to avoid any preventable issues that can lengthen your treatment time or need special care to be fixed.

 

Since braces naturally create nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide, it is important to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen everyday so that you can avoid tooth decay and gum problems during orthodontic treatment. If teeth and brackets are not kept clean, permanent damage can occur to the tooth enamel, as well. When this occurs, white spots (tooth decay) can begin appearing on the teeth where the enamel surface has lost minerals, which cannot be reversed. Bleeding or inflamed gums, called gingivitis, is also common whenever patients don’t clean their teeth thoroughly enough with braces, and it can be very painful. While it is not likely that all of these issues will occur if you miss brushing your teeth or flossing well a few times, you will be more prone to an increased risk, which will hurt your oral health and complicate the rest of your orthodontic care.

 

Teeth Cleaning OptionsFemale mouth smiling with braces as she cleans in between teeth with interdental brush

Although cleaning your teeth with braces isn’t too difficult of a process for most patients, there are some tools that you can use to better clean around the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth and make your time cleaning more efficient. First and foremost, make sure that you (or your child) are brushing after each meal. It may seem insignificant, but brushing after you eat removes food particles that are stuck in braces, reduces staining and prevents bacteria buildup. Secondly, use a threadable floss or floss threader to clean underneath the wire of your braces. A floss threader works by inserting the pointed end between the teeth and under the archwire. From there, move it back and forth until it is able to thread the floss between the teeth. Then, you can floss the two teeth, on either side, to remove all food that may be stuck there. If you’re having trouble with your floss getting stuck, consider using waxed floss, which slides between the teeth easier and doesn’t get snagged.

 

After brushing and flossing, using a proxabrush is helpful in cleaning between each bracket. Commonly referred to as an interproximal brush or  “Christmas tree brush,” a proxabrush is placed between two brackets, below the archwire, and uses an up-and-down motion to remove any lodged food particles that brushing and flossing can’t get to. Clean the brackets with the proxabrush on both sides, starting either up from the bottom or down from the top, and repeat between each tooth. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator, which uses a pulsating stream of water to remove plaque and food debris. Mouthwash is also a helpful tool to kill and bacteria that may have been left after brushing and flossing. For an extra clean, try using an electric toothbrush to maximize cleaning and brush those difficult areas of the mouth that are hard to reach.

 

Braces-Friendly Diet

The foods we eat and the diet we have affect our oral health and can interfere with orthodontic appliances. Eating sugary or starchy foods can let plaque develop around the brackets, which can lead to cavities, staining or even gum disease. Sticky or chewy foods, such as caramel, taffy, chewing gum and corn on the cob, should also be avoided as they can easily become stuck between brackets and be difficult to remove. Hard foods, such as candy, beef jerky, nuts and popcorn, are also no-nos as they are known to break wires and loosen brackets. If you’re going to eat hard or crunchy foods, such as apples or carrots, make sure to cut them into small, bite-sized pieces to avoid any possible damage.

 

Regular Orthodontic Checkups

Even if you or your child are following these rules, it is essential that you visit with your orthodontist regularly so that they can monitor teeth movement and adjust any wires or brackets. Your orthodontist or hygienist can show you how to use the tools previously described and give you additional teeth cleaning supplies to aid you during treatment. For more questions about how to clean your teeth with braces or what foods to stay away from, contact Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!