The number one goal for your oral health is maintaining healthy teeth and gums. This means practicing diligent daily oral hygiene habits; specifically, brushing and flossing to remove plaque along with routine dental visits to remove tartar (hardened plaque), polish your teeth and have your gums checked.
When you opt for orthodontics to straighten your teeth, your oral care becomes even more important. In the case of braces, food and bacteria can become trapped easily in the brackets and hardware. To lower the bacteria in the mouth, you can also rinse with mouthwash when you brush and floss every day.
Removing plaque helps prevent cavities, swollen gums, halitosis and permanent stains on your teeth from wearing braces. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal or snack. If you can’t brush, at the very least you can do is rinse with water to wash away particles and bacteria. Also, be sure to floss at least once a day.
What happens if you neglect your hygiene in braces? You can find yourself with gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. As this is caused by plaque along the gum line, you’ll want to brush those areas and massage your gums gently whenever you brush. If gingivitis isn’t properly treated, the gums can become infected around the bone and ligaments holding your teeth. This can cause gum pockets to form, which harbor even more bacteria and plaque.
But the gums aren’t the only part of your mouth that can be harmed if you don’t take care of your teeth and gums when wearing your braces. You can also end up with white spots around the braces. These are permanent stains from decalcification, and they can’t be removed when the braces are taken off. To avoid these dental issues, take care of your teeth and braces by practicing the following:
– Brush with fluoride toothpaste, and be sure to replace your toothbrush every two months. This is especially important while wearing braces. Usually, it’s every 3-4 months, but the wear from the metal brackets affects the bristles. Be sure to brush after every meal and before bed.
– Floss once a day. There are a variety of flossing tools available for you depending on your needs. The most commonly used flossing tool is waxed floss with a floss threader. Another popular flossing method is an oral irrigator. Water flossers flush out bacteria and food particles around the gums and in the small spaces of the teeth and braces. Find something that works best for you and then use it!
– See your dentist every six months to check for issues and provide you with a professional dental cleaning. Along with keeping all of your scheduled orthodontic appointments, you will be optimizing your oral health while straightening your teeth with braces.
– Rinsing daily with an oral rinse can help prevent decalcification on the teeth (these are white spots on enamel) and also demineralization (this arises from acids left on the teeth that break down enamel). We can also prescribe an oral rinse tailored to your oral condition.
If you would like more information, we invite you to give us a call to find how to take care of your teeth while wearing braces. We want to help you achieve the healthy, straightened smile you deserve!