At Dental Arts, we believe that oral health is directly linked to overall health, and that starts with good dental hygiene practices at home. We’ve compiled a guide here that anyone can use to maintain a healthy mouth. As we all inherently know, It is important to take the time to take care of your braces in your day-to-day life.
No one wants to have their braces removed to find white spots underneath as a result of poor habits, right?
The work and care that you put today will yield stunning results when your braces come off to reveal a healthy, beautiful smile that will last you a lifetime.
So, what does taking care of your braces at home involve?
Accountability Starts With You
Success in orthodontics greatly depends on teamwork between the patient, the orthodontist as well as the full dental team. At the end of the day, you are responsible for doing your part to clean and care for your teeth while your braces are on.
In between appointments, it’s critical that you’re brushing, flossing and cleaning regularly. While our team is here to provide orthodontic expertise and experience, the success of your treatment plan greatly depends on the amount of time and energy you put into self-care.
Attack the Plaque
What exactly is plaque? Plaque is a soft, sticky, whitish matlike film attached to tooth surfaces, formed largely by the growth of bacteria that colonize the teeth. Plaque can easily invade the spaces in and around your braces, so it’s important to brush regularly to get rid of any accumulation that may gather over time.
What happens when you fail to rid your braces and mouth of plaque? When combined with leftover food that can hide in between your teeth, this plaque residue can result in swollen gums, bad breath, cavities as well as permanent scars on your teeth. Attack the plaque!
Timing is Everything
A key part of braces and oral maintenance is consistency and immediacy. Every time you eat a snack or meal, we recommend brushing your teeth in between your braces to avoid any kind of buildup or residue. Whether you’re at school, work or home, you can use a pocket-sized, travel toothbrush to quickly remove any excess food left behind after a meal. It only takes two minutes, so try and make an effort to integrate this crucial habit into your routine.
Don’t have the time to brush? At the very least, go through the process of rigorously rinsing your entire mouth with water. This isn’t a substitute for brushing, but it can help dislodge pieces of food that may have become lodged in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth.
It may seem like common sense, but in addition to frequent brushing, proper brushing technique is paramount to orthodontic success. Particularly with braces, it’s important to pay special attention to the obscure spots around the wires and brackets that can be easily missed.
We all like to think we know how to brush our teeth (since, hopefully, we do it twice daily), but let’s walk through a quick refresher course on the basics of brushing.
- Brush with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush. Braces are hard on most toothbrushes, so you’ll need to be mindful and upgrade your toothbrush whenever you notice it’s quality diminish.
- Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and increasing the rate of the remineralization process.
- Don’t miss a spot! Use your brush to clean in, underneath and around even the hidden parts of your braces. Ensure that you are covering every surface — fronts, sides and backs. Don’t forget to brush the roof of the mouth as well as your tongue and gums. If you can see the edges of the brackets clearly, you know you’ve done a good job.
- You’re not done yet! Rinse out your entire mouth with water, repeatedly swishing and swirling until you have completely washed away any remaining toothpaste or food.
- Do a quick check for any broken or loose wires or brackets. Any extra wire or materials out of place can result in tearing of the mouth or painful long-term harm to your treatment plan.
Floss Like A Boss
Just as brushing is a critical aspect of braces maintenance, flossing is the other half of the equation. While flossing with braces can be difficult and time-consuming at first, the more you proactively spend time doing it, the easier and more natural it will become in your oral regimen.
Here are a few insights into proper flossing with braces:
- Instead of trying to cram in flossing in your morning, try flossing at night before you go to bed. Take your time and get it right, without rushing before school or work.
- We recommend using a floss threader when cleaning your braces. This reusable tool is sold in the dental care section of nearly every grocery and pharmacy. It allows you to floss between your teeth and along the gumline when wearing braces or permanent retainers.
- Don’t forget about your gums! Take care to clean along and under your gumline, as that is where food and plaque can accumulate.
We hope this guide will help you navigate the world of dental hygiene for your braces while at home. If you would like to get more information on dental hygiene, orthodontics or how Dental Arts can help you get the results you want for your oral health, please contact us.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.