Oral Hygiene with Braces

Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Braces

Braces ease crooked or uneven teeth back into alignment over time, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing smile. While the end result will last a lifetime, the process of caring for and living with braces can take some time to get used to. Learning about the basics of oral hygiene while you wear braces will help you take care of your mouth, teeth and gums while you wait for your perfect new grin.

Dental Care Tips for Patients with Braces

When you first get braces: The first few days with braces are usually a little awkward; getting used to a mouth full of hardware and wires takes a few days for most people. Patients are advised to eat soft, easy to chew foods that won’t get stuck in the wires or under the braces during this time and to get used to caring for new dental equipment.

Home Care Overview for Braces

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Caring for braces long term

Take care of your investment for the long term.

Regular tooth brushing is important for everyone, and people with braces need to take extra care to get food particles out from between the braces and teeth. Teeth should still be flossed, and a smaller toothbrush can be used if needed. Mouthwash can help with any dryness or breath odors, but clean, health teeth should be a priority.

Foods to avoid while wearing braces

Here are a few common food culprits that can cause damage to braces...

• Sticky, chewy taffy or gum

• Hard to bite foods like crisp apples or raw carrots

• Ice, if chewed

• Crisp snacks like hard pretzels, tortilla chips and granola bars

• Corn on the cob (can be cut from the cob and safely consumed)

Braces and Sports

Soccer ball to the face + braces = Ouch!

For kids, teens and young adults who wear braces, special care should be taken during sports and related activities. A single ball or stick to the face can ruin years’ worth of orthodontia work. Wearing a mouthguard that fits well can significantly reduce the risk to both natural teeth and braces. A new mouthguard will need to be made to fit properly over braces and offer the maximum amount of protection.

Basic repair for braces

A glasses repair kit won't cut it.

Accidents do happen, and braces can be damaged, but most damage to wires or brackets is not an emergency. While most people who wear braces become adept at minor adjustments and repairs, any significant damage should be seen and fixed by an orthodontist. Do not attempt to remove broken wires or brackets on your own, secure them in place with orthodontic wax until you can get to your doctor.

Dental Care for Braces Includes Flossing to Ensure a Healthy Smile

If you’ve never been in the habit of flossing your teeth, getting braces is the ideal time to begin. Food particles can become trapped between the wires and your teeth, and can cause cavities and gum disease. Removing these food particles at least twice a day can improve your dental health and increase the odds that you’ll have a healthy smile for decades. Flossing with braces can be tricky at first, but it becomes easier with practice.

Dental care with braces often takes about twice as long as before, so be prepared to invest extra minutes into your dental care routine. The healthy results of your smile will be worth the effort.

Use a reusable floss threader or special floss made for use with braces. This specialty floss has a stiff part on one end of each individually-cut strand, which acts as a threader. Whichever method you use for inserting the floss, make sure it’s waxed floss. Unwaxed floss is more likely to shred on braces wires, leaving bits of thread stuck between your teeth.

Brush your teeth thoroughly and rinse your mouth before starting your flossing routine. This will remove much of the food particles in your mouth and leave only the pieces stuck underneath the braces and in between the teeth.

Use a precut piece of floss, or cut a strand about 18 inches long and thread it through the floss threader. Slide the floss in between two of your front teeth below the braces wire. Wrap one end of the floss around each of your forefingers. Slide the floss down the side of one tooth, make a U-turn slightly below the gum line, and then slide the floss up the side of the other tooth in the pair. Continue sliding the floss down and back up again until you hear a squeaking noise. This indicates that the teeth are clean and deposit-free.

Remove the floss from between these two teeth and move on to the next pair. Continue flossing between all of your teeth, top and bottom. Wrap the floss around the back of your farthest molar to floss the back side of these teeth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove the food particles you removed by flossing.

Do's and Don'ts of Flossing While Wearing Braces

  • Move the floss gently when it presses up against the braces wire. Avoid pushing too firmly against the wire to avoid snapping it.

  • Don't snap the floss; move it smoothly and slowly against the sides of your teeth.

  • Use a clean portion of the floss between each pair of teeth.

  • Don't worry if your gums bleed a bit when you first start flossing. This is normal and should stop in a week or two when your gums toughen up.

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