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Young girl with braces receiving dental care

An orthodontist has been to dental school and is skilled enough to spot gum and teeth problems. However, seeing an orthodontist is not enough to keep your teeth healthy. During your time receiving braces, it’s also important to keep seeing a dentist for cleanings, exams and dental treatments. Learn why dental care and oral hygiene is important during your time with braces and how it can help you have a better smile after your braces!


Caring for Metal Braces

Your dental care during braces will depend on the type of braces you receive. If you choose metal braces, brackets and wires in your mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck. This quickly leads to dental issues if proper care is not taken. You have to be meticulous about cleaning away plaque and stuck food particles so that you avoid tooth decay and demineralization of your tooth enamel. You do this by:

  • Brushing after every meal. Your braces easily trap food particles every single time you eat. Brushing after each meal can prevent staining and reduce the potential for bacteria buildup. When brushing, make sure you have a regular, soft-bristle brush. Brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth that has a bracket.
  • Using a threadable floss or floss threader. You will quickly notice that you can’t floss the conventional way with metal braces because the archwire is in the way. If you use a floss threader, thread regular floss through the eye of the threader like you would a sewing needle and thread. Or, using threadable floss, insert the small or pointed end in between your teeth, pulling it through. Once in place between your teeth, you can floss the two teeth on either side of where you have inserted the floss, taking care not to apply force or pressure against the archwire. Repeat between all teeth.
  • Using a proxabrush. This is a small brush that looks like a Christmas tree. Place the proxabrush between two brackets, below the archwire, brushing up and down. After several strokes, repeat this motion by inserting the brush from the opposite side (either down from the top or up from the bottom).


young girl receiving dental care with braces

Dental Care with Other Braces

There are other types of braces besides metal braces. At our office, we also offer Invisalign, lingual braces and ceramic braces.

  • Ceramic braces – Care for ceramic braces is the same as for traditional metal braces. This is because the design of these braces are the exact same, except they are made out of white, ceramic material.
  • Lingual braces – These braces consist of brackets and wires that are placed on the tongue-side of your teeth (meaning behind the teeth). You will have to be more careful with brushing and flossing your teeth, as you won’t be able to see the brackets and wires as well. However, cleaning is very similar to how you would clean metal braces. With flossing, floss threaders will become your best friend, and you’ll want to be meticulous with this because food can get stuck more often with the braces being inside your mouth by your tongue.
  • Invisalign – This orthodontic appliance is completely different than the other options you have. Invisalign is a series of transparent aligners that you switch out every week. The benefit of these aligners is that you can easily remove them, and brush and floss your teeth like normal. No brackets, wires or lengthy flossing session. When you take the aligners out, rinse them to get the saliva off of them. Then soak them in a retainer/braces cleaner. An example is Retainer Brite or denture cleaner.


Do You Need to See a Dentist?

Did you know that an orthodontist must complete dental school. In order to practice orthodontics, they need to complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree followed by 4 years of dental school. After that time, an orthodontist will continue 2-3 years of additional training and schooling to practice orthodontics. Therefore, an orthodontist knows what a dentist knows when it comes to your oral health. However, one point that we want to stress is that you need to continue seeing the dentist during your time with braces.


An orthodontist is skilled at treating issues with your oral health, however, an orthodontist is in charge of correcting bite and alignment. A dentist is the one that will need to correct problems with tooth decay and gum disease. Even though an orthodontist has received the same training, their profession is to not to fill cavities or do root canals unless their practice does both. During your time with braces, you must continue receiving dental care from a dentist. Braces raise your risk for tooth decay and gum disease


dentist cleaning a child's braces

Dental Care during Your Time with Braces

Your dental care during braces will depend on the type of braces you receive. Many patients choose traditional metal braces for straightening their teeth. No matter what orthodontic option you choose, it is particularly important to maintain great dental care through attention to proper oral hygiene. If you don’t know what that proper hygiene routine looks like, we can help you. As always, if you have any questions about braces care or maintenance, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are here to help you reach your goals and to keep your mouth healthy. For help caring for your braces, or if you are finding certain oral hygiene tasks difficult, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!


dental care

Dentist hands working on young teen patient with dental braces.

Should you receive dental care with braces or is seeing the orthodontist sufficient? Continue regular checkups with your dentist even if you are frequently seeing your orthodontist. Braces make you more prone to problems such as plaque buildup and tartar. Depending on the kind of braces you choose, your teeth may require additional steps to stay clean with braces than without. For some, the enamel can also weaken with braces. However, there are ways to keep your teeth healthy and clean while you have braces. Modern-day orthodontics offers treatment options everyone can be comfortable with and will still allow patients to receive proper dental care at the same time. We can answer frequently asked questions for receiving dental care with braces and help you with tips for taking care of your braces so your smile stays healthy.


Dentists and Orthodontists

Did you know that orthodontists attend dental school just like dentists do? Dentists and orthodontists are similar in their schooling up to a point. However, although both professions deal with the health of your teeth, they both do separate services. Dentists perform services such as:

  • Comprehensive exams and diagnostic x-rays
  • Dental cleanings
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Laser tissue treatment
  • Periodontal treatment/Scaling and root planing
  • Dental sealants
  • Cavity fillings/Tooth colored fillings
  • Sedation dentistry
  • Porcelain veneers and crowns
  • Cosmetic bonding
  • Dental bridges and dental implants
  • Root canal therapy
  • Teeth whitening

An orthodontist performs other services different than a dentist, although they are skilled in dental practices. Orthodontists receive 4 years of undergraduate education, where they then attend dental school for 4 years. After dental school, they attend a postdoctoral program to learn orthodontia. A dentist fixes problems with your teeth in general, while an orthodontist fixes problems with teeth alignment as well as your bite and jaw alignment. Basically, every orthodontist is a dentist, but not every dentist is an orthodontist. Patients benefit from having both a dentist and an orthodontist to maintain a healthy mouth.


Caring for Your Teeth

Taking care of your teeth is a bit different with braces than it was without them. During your orthodontic treatment, it is particularly important to maintain good oral health through proper oral hygiene. Brackets and wires in your mouth make it much easier for food particles to get stuck. When those food particles are not removed, it leads to other dental issues like tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease. Your teeth may also demineralize or erode in the areas where your brackets were attacked to the teeth. Areas on the enamel surface lose minerals in this case, which is what causes white squares to form on the teeth. If you drink beverages that stain the teeth easily, you might be left with uneven stains once the brackets have been removed.


With braces, you should still follow the American Dental Association’s recommendation to brush the teeth at least twice a day. We recommend that you brush the teeth much more than that, as food particles can get stuck in the brackets at every single meal. Make sure to avoid hard foods like hard candies, chips, apples, nuts, popcorn and more with your brackets. Also avoid sticky foods such as gum, caramel, taffy, tootsie rolls, and gummies as these foods are much harder to get out of all the small areas of your braces. A lot of caring for your braces is watching what you eat and then cleaning the teeth often after you do eat.


Cleaning with Braces

Flossing is one of the daily tasks that will be more difficult with braces because there is an archwire that blocks the floss from going in and out of the spaces between the teeth with ease. The solution for this is to use threadable floss or a floss threader. With a floss threader, you use regular floss and thread it through the eye of the threader much like you would with a sewing needle and thread. You then floss the threader between each tooth individually. Floss that comes threadable will be harder at one end and will be able to be threaded between the teeth without having to have a separate threader.


After brushing with a toothbrush, you can also use a proxabrush, which looks like a small Christmas tree brush. You place this proxabrush between two brackets, below the archwire, and you brush up and down. This will get food that is hard-stuck in your brackets. Brushing after every meal will reduce how much food gets into your bracket and stays there.


Dental Care with Braces

Even though you are seeing an orthodontist frequently, you must continue to visit your dentist throughout your care! An orthodontist will get your teeth straight, but you receive dental cleanings, comprehensive exams, and cavity care from a dentist, not an orthodontist. Both professions deal with the teeth, but they both deal differently with the teeth. Only a dentist can find cavities and fill them for you. A dentist can provide all the services we listed above, which are all very important to keep the teeth healthy. Receiving frequent dental exams and cleanings are some of the best dental services you can receive while wearing braces, because keeping the teeth clean and free of cavities will help your smile be that much more beautiful in the end.


Schedule a Dental Visit

Your tooth enamel can suffer permanent damage if you don’t take extra care with your teeth with braces. That’s why it’s even more important to receive dental care while you have braces. Be vigilant with your oral hygiene every single day. Don’t skip days! You are spending months of your life to receive a straighter smile. You want that smile to also be a beautiful one at the end of your treatment. In the end, it is very important to receive dental care during braces and to take care of them yourself every day at home. If you have questions about caring for your braces, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016.


dentistry and orthodontics

Dentistry and orthodontics are quite different, but they are also closely related. You need care from both a dentist and an orthodontist in order to keep your smile healthy. Dentistry and orthodontics both deal with the health of your smile. One focuses on straightening the smile and other focuses on tooth decay, gum disease and treatments to help correct oral issues. Both involve services that “fix” problems with the teeth to help make your mouth healthier, thus making you healthier. Find out the difference between dentistry and orthodontics, the similarities, and how both can help you have the best smile possible.

What Dentists Do

Dentists go to school to specialize in problems involving the teeth, nerves, gums and jaw. They can provide any or all of the following services:

  • Comprehensive exams and dental cleanings
  • Oral cancer screenings
  • Sedation dentistry
  • Laser cavity detection and cavity detection using x-ray imaging
  • Tooth extractions
  • Laser tissue treatment
  • Oral hygiene training
  • Dental sealants
  • Periodontal treatments on the gums
  • Scaling and root planing for gum disease

Dentists are also trained in cosmetic dentistry and can provide services such as dental implants, porcelain veneers, porcelain crowns, cosmetic bonding, dental bridges and even botox treatment. Restorative dentistry involves root canals and root canal therapy, teeth-whitening services, tooth-colored fillings, and in some cases orthodontic care through Invisalign. The dentist is usually trained in orthodontics to provide this service. If a dentist finds that a patient has a problem with their bite or alignment, they will refer the patient to an orthodontist who is certified and trained to correct the issue.

What Orthodontists Do

Orthodontists must obtain several degrees to become orthodontists. They need more training than dentists do because they must be able to correct smiles as well as identify oral health issues. Orthodontists are specially trained with correcting bites, occlusion (or alignment), and in straightening the teeth. In a healthy mouth, the upper jaw rests on top of the lower jaw. The upper front teeth will rest slightly forward on top of the lower front teeth. Not all mouths are aligned correctly. Some bites that orthodontists correct include:

  • Overbite – In the upper jaw, the front teeth rest over the lower front teeth instead of above. You never want the front teeth to overlap the bottom teeth completely, as this creates pain and other problems when biting, eating, and other everyday tasks.
  • Underbite – This is the opposite of overbite. The lower front teeth rest far in front of the upper front teeth. This creates similar jaw problems as mentioned with overbite. Underbite can lead to jaw and joint pain, earaches, headaches. and more.
  • Crossbite – Crossbite involves teeth that cross in all different directions. Some of the teeth are slanted toward the tongue. Other teeth are slanted towards the cheeks. This creates uneven pressure all over the mouth when biting and chewing, which can lead to broken or fractured teeth, weakened enamel, pain, and more. Crossbite can even cause abnormal facial development and jaw problems if left untreated.
  • Openbite – Openbite refers to an opening (or gap) in the teeth between the upper and lower jaws when the mouth is closed. This gap is right at the front of the teeth and might even appear as a hole in a patient’s smile. Openbite leads to speech impediments, lisps and other problems with speaking if left untreated.

Dentistry and Orthodontics Compared

Did you know that an orthodontist has dental training? Orthodontists must obtain several degrees in order to work. They must obtain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree just as dentists do. Then, they must apply to an orthodontic graduate program to obtain a Masters of Science degree. Orthodontists go through all the same training as dentists and then some. This is how orthodontists can spot dental issues forming. Basically, all orthodontists are dentists but not all dentists are orthodontists.

If you have problems with your teeth, gums, oral nerves or jaw, then go see your dentist. Your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist if the issue is corrected by an orthodontist or has to do with bite, alignment or straightening. When it comes to problems such as tooth decay (cavities), both dentists and orthodontists can help you in some way. Orthodontic care via braces can help straighten the teeth, thus making them easier to clean and reducing your risk for tooth decay. Dentists can also help you prevent tooth decay with comprehensive exams, biannual cleanings and treatments that stop the progression of cavities if they have formed.

Benefit From Both

Both dentistry and orthodontics involve services that “fix” problems with the teeth to help make your mouth healthier, thus making you healthier. Both professions involve doctors who are highly trained to help problems with your oral health. Patients can benefit greatly from having both a dentist and an orthodontist. Take a step towards a healthier mouth, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Hardy today by calling Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!