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Young woman pointing at braces

Braces are incredible devices that can help transform your teeth and reshape your jaws. However, they are not always fool-proof. Every so often, a patient will have a dental emergency. That may be a bad cavity that needs to be fixed, or a bracket or wire will break. There are only a few dental emergencies that can happen with braces. We can help you to know what to do when each of those emergencies happen!

 

Origins of Braces

Orthodontic treatments have been around for a long time-even as far back as the ancient Egyptians! Although their ways were archaic, people for centuries have been trying to fix crooked teeth and develop a prettier smile through orthodontic work. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans were known to have practiced orthodontia, and interestingly, the Etruscans used to attach gold bands to women’s teeth to preserve the position of their teeth after death. Orthodontics saw a surge in progress during the 18th century thanks to Pierre Fauchard. Known as the “Father of Dentistry,” he invented an appliance called a bandeau, which was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal with regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth to correct the alignment. He would also use forceps to physically realign teeth into their correct positions and tie them to neighboring teeth until they healed.

 

Orthodontics in the United States exploded during the 19th century. J.S. Gunnell created a type of headgear that fashioned to the head and exerted a soft pull on teeth while Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber which would eventually become one of the most commonly used appliances in orthodontics. But Edward Hartley Angle, the “Father of Modern Orthodontics,” took orthodontics to another level by identifying the true properties of malocclusion, or misalignment, and addressed them with his own set of orthodontic appliances in 1880. Until the 1970s, orthodontist would attach anchored brackets around each tooth with winding wires, but with the invention of dental adhesives, orthodontists could then stick the brackets to teeth surfaces. Stainless steel then replaced gold and silver as the most popular option for wires, due to its manipulability, and became the most cost-efficient option for braces.

 

Dental Emergencies and What To Do About Them

Braces have come a long way since their beginnings many centuries ago, but as braces have evolved, so have the problems that come with them. Although dental emergencies are few and far between when it comes to braces, there are some common issues that can be readily addressed and fixed if serious enough. The least serious issues that you can have with your braces is tooth tenderness and lip and cheek sores. As your teeth become accustomed to your braces, your teeth will most likely be sore for 2-4 days. Using headgear, rubber bands, and springs can add to this soreness, but that discomfort normally goes away in the same amount of time. Eating soft foods and taking an over the counter pain reliever can help dull the ache. Loose or broke bands and brackets are also another annoyance that sometimes occur with braces. Although not considered an emergency, they normally break due to patient’s eating prohibited foods or picking at their braces. Whenever this occurs, place a piece of wax on the spot of irritation and wait until your next orthodontic appointment, unless the broken bracket breaks on one of the upper or lower front four teeth, then call your orthodontist as soon as possible.

 

Protruding wires are not only bothersome, but can stab the inside of your lips and mouth if not fixed. Wires can come loose from eating sticky foods, like candy, or by picking at your braces. If this has occurred, try using a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire in towards the teeth. To avoid accidental damage to the wire, make sure to not bite your nails or pens and pencils. In rare occasions, a piece of the appliance may break and be swallowed by the patient. Although alarming, keep calm and have someone look in your mouth to see if the appliance if visible. If confident that you can remove it, you may carefully attempt to do so. If you are unable to see the piece, are coughing excessively, or having difficulty breathing, that could be a sign that the piece could have been aspirated and you should contact your orthodontist immediately.

 

How To Protect Your BracesMan flossing braces and smiling

Unless under extenuating circumstances, most dental emergencies are avoidable. Maintaining good oral health and hygiene throughout your time with braces is vital in ensuring healthy teeth and gums, and preventing cavities. Food particles are easier to get stuck between braces, and when not cleaned thoroughly, can lead to other dental emergencies, like tooth decay, which can cause major complications. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar should be avoided as they are known to break brackets and cause cavities, which you more susceptible of developing while wearing braces. Some of the need-to-avoid foods include hard candy, nuts, apples, popcorn, ice, gum, caramel, and licorice.

 

Because braces are so notorious for getting food stuck in them, make sure that you are brushing after every meal to prevent staining and reducing bacteria buildup in your mouth. Use a soft brush, and brush each tooth by starting at the top and brushing down, then repeating the motion and brushing up around each bracket. Use threadable floss of a floss threader to get the hard to reach areas in between teeth that are covered by the archwire. Using the pointed end, insert between the teeth and gently move the floss back and forth between the two teeth. For added care, use a proxabrush, sometimes called a “Christmas tree brush,” to scrub between each bracket in an up and down motion to get any extra gunk that might be stuck there. For any dental emergencies that you might be having, make sure to contact Belmar Orthodontics at  (303) 225-9016 for your next consultation!

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cleaning braces

Cleaning the teeth can be hard at times. Cleaning braces on the teeth can be even harder because of all the appliances attached to the enamel. Proper care must be taken with brackets and wires to ensure that all food is removed from the teeth. Brushing and flossing in general helps decrease your likelihood for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Brushing and flossing is different for a smile with braces. There are more guidelines for proper oral hygiene with orthodontic care. Thankfully, there are also products out there (such as flossers) that help make cleaning braces and your teeth easier. Find out how to properly care for your braces and what products can help make cleaning braces easier!

 

Braces Are Unique to Each Person

Millions of adults will receive braces each year. In fact, there are about 4.5 million people wearing braces annually. In the past, those braces used to all be the traditional style of metal brackets. However, modern technology now affords patients the options of lingual braces, clear ceramic braces, and Invisalign as well.

  • Lingual Braces – Many patients want the strength of metal brackets without the braces being so noticeable. Lingual braces are perfect for these patients, as the metal apparatus is attached to the inside of your teeth instead of the outside. You can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing!
  • Clear Ceramic Braces – There are other patients that love metal brackets but don’t want the metal to overwhelm their face. Clear ceramic braces are a great option for those who still want brackets, but want them to blend in more with the teeth. Made from ceramic material, these brackets are very durable, naturally help combat demineralization, and are white just like your teeth.
  • Invisalign – For a truly invisible straightening system, Invisalign can align your pearly whites discreetly and comfortably. This is a series of removable transparent aligners that you change out every 1-2 weeks. You can take out the aligners for regular brushing and oral care, sports, eating, and more.

 

Cleaning Braces with Help

It’s vitally important that you take extra good care of your teeth with braces. This is a time when tooth decay can occur in many parts of your mouth. Brackets and wires in your mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck, leading to other dental issues if proper care is not taken. With braces, we suggest brushing your teeth after every single meal instead of just twice a day. You can use a regular toothbrush, but make sure it is one that you will actually want to use. The toothbrush should have soft bristles so it’s easier on your tooth enamel and the head should fit comfortably in your mouth. Brushing after each meal can help prevent staining and bacteria buildup.

 

When brushing, brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth with a bracket. After brushing with your toothbrush, you can get an extra clean by using a proxabrush. This is a special oral health brush that looks very similar to a Christmas tree. It is actually sometimes referred to as a “Christmas tree brush”. You use this small brush by placing it between two brackets below the archwire. Then you brush up and down to dislodge any food you may have missed with brushing or that you didn’t even realize was there. After several strokes, repeat this motion by inserting the brush from the opposite side. For those who want an extra clean, you can use an oral irrigator to blast away food.

 

What About Flossing?

Many patients have problems flossing the teeth. The main problem is that flossing takes time, and many people either don’t have the time to floss properly, or don’t want to take the time to do it. How well you floss can make quite the difference on what happens to your teeth during your time with braces. Food can easily become stuck in brackets, but we know that food definitely gets stuck between the teeth. This happens even without braces! You may be a pro at cleaning braces, but you also have to be a pro at flossing your teeth with them as well. How do you do this with that pesky archwire that’s in the way?

 

There are products just for this problem. Use a threadable floss or a floss threader to get the job done. A floss threader is a tool you can use to pull your regular floss through each space between the teeth. Think of a floss threader as a large sewing needle of sorts. You place your floss through the threader. Then, just as a person does with sewing, you will thread the floss threader through each space between the teeth. There is also special floss that has a hard end that is about 2-3 inches in length. Each floss piece can be threaded with the harder end without an additional threader. Every time you floss, make sure to move it back and forth in each space between the teeth, taking care not to apply force or pressure against the archwire.

 

Cleaning Braces is Easy

You are going to be wearing your braces for 18-24 months, so you’ll have to become comfortable cleaning them efficiently if you want a great smile in the end! Cleaning braces will become second nature to you if you do it often enough. Cleaning braces will help your smile be more beautiful at the end of treatment and will help avoid tooth decay, enamel erosion, demineralization, stains and more. You only get one smile in this life, so treat it right! Many patients benefit from learning more about how to clean their braces and tips and tricks to doing it right and quicker. If you want to learn more about cleaning and caring for your braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!