Oral hygiene is important at every stage of life. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove any plaque build up. When you have braces it should be even more frequent. There are both cosmetic and medical reasons for taking good care of your teeth and gums with braces. While it takes a little longer to brush and floss with braces, the extra time and effort is worth it. When your braces come off, you will have a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime.
What is Oral Hygiene?
Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping your teeth and mouth clean to avoid decay, disease and other problems in the mouth.
The Importance of Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. When you allow bacteria to build-up and form into plaque, it can lead to a range of health problems.
Before you even begin your braces journey, your orthodontist would have checked your mouth and gums were healthy and free of infections. It’s dangerous to move teeth when an infection is present. If an infection develops during orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist has no choice but to stop treatment until the infection clears.
How Do You Maintain Good Oral Hygiene with Braces?
Oral hygiene shouldn’t change with or without braces. Brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist are all important during your treatment. You’ll just need to use a different technique to brush and floss with braces. It’s not difficult, it will just take some practice and getting used to.
How Many Times a Day Should You Brush with Braces?
You should brush your teeth after every main meal and before bed. .Essentially you need to be smart about brushing and ensure that you brush your teeth any time that you have sugars in your food, so three to four times per day at least. Be thorough with your brushing. It takes a little longer to brush with braces because of all the nooks and crannies, but it’s best to take your time and do a thorough job.
Brushing and Flossing with Braces
What Type of Toothbrush is Best?
Using an electric or manual toothbrush is up to you. Some patients prefer one or the other while they have braces. Being thorough is more important than the type of brush you use.
Is There an Alternative to Brushing?
If it’s not possible to brush after lunch or a snack, remember to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to remove any food particles that may have collected around the brackets and wire. Rinsing isn’t an option for the other two times a day though! Make sure you brush and floss your teeth at least morning and night.
Will My Orthodontist Know If I Am Not Brushing?
It’s obvious which patients brush properly and which ones don’t. Plaque builds-up around the brackets and gum line. It’s plaque that causes staining on teeth which is noticeable when the braces are removed. Plaque also causes cavities and leads to gum infections which you need to avoid when you have braces.
Can I Floss with Braces?
Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene. Flossing is the only way to clean between your teeth and along the gum line. The Orthodontists recommend Super Floss for anyone with braces as it’s easier to use and less likely to damage your braces than other types. You can also use small interdental brushes to clean around the braces if you find them helpful.
Step by Step Oral Hygiene Routine for Braces
#1 Brush Your Teeth (and Braces)
After you’ve finished eating, brush your teeth. Use either an electric or manual toothbrush, whichever you prefer, with a fluoride gel or toothpaste. Fluoride helps protect your teeth’s enamel. Don’t use any whitening toothpaste. The whitening agents will only work on places it touches. It will not whiten underneath the bracket. Wait until you have had your braces removed to start using these products, for an even colour.
Starting with your top teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the top of the brackets. With a small circular motion move the brush along the top half of your teeth. This allows the brush to clean your teeth, brackets and wires. Brush the inside of your top teeth and all the flat surfaces. Repeat on the bottom arch using the same brush, angle and motion.
If your toothbrush hasn’t removed all food particles, use an interdental brush. It’s ideal for getting into any small gaps to remove particles that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Take about 20cm of floss and wrap it around your index fingers. Thread the floss between the wire and teeth. Using firm pressure, gently move the floss between the teeth and into the gum to remove plaque and food particles.
If you have any problems brushing or flossing with braces, call the clinic or ask for another demonstration at your next appointment.
#3 Inspect Your Teeth and Braces
Have a quick look at your teeth to make sure you have removed all food and plaque. Check the brackets and wires to ensure nothing is loose or broken.
If your brackets or wires are rubbing on the inside of your mouth and causing you discomfort, take a small ball of wax and smooth it over any part of the braces, where it’s required. If the irritation continues, call the clinic.
Important Oral Hygiene Tips
Besides brushing and flossing, there are a few other points to remember to keep your teeth healthy and stain free.
Now that your teeth are clean, try to avoid snacking between meals. If you eat snacks, try to make healthy choices. It’s best to eat any sugary treats directly after a meal, just before you brush your teeth. Eating or drinking something sweet between meals can mean the sugar sits on your teeth and braces for hours, which can cause cavities and staining.
Change Your Toothbrush Regularly
A toothbrush isn’t as effective if the bristles are worn. Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. However, your braces may cause your toothbrush to wear faster. Change your toothbrush (or electric toothbrush head) when the bristles are no longer straight.
Visit the Dentist
While you’re visiting the orthodontist regularly, it’s not the same as visiting the dentist. While your braces are on, you should see your dentist every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Make your appointments in advance so you don’t forget to visit.
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If You Let Your Oral Hygiene Routine Slip
Pick it up straight away. Give your teeth a thorough brush and floss as soon as possible. Try to keep your toothbrush and toothpaste with you so you can always brush your teeth. It’s best not to let oral hygiene go because it doesn’t take long for problems to occur.
If you aren’t brushing, it may impact your orthodontic treatment. If there is a large amount of plaque on your teeth, you may need to see your dentist early. A professional clean may reduce the chance of visible staining after braces.
A lack of oral hygiene is one of the main reasons for developing a gum infection. Once you have a gum infection, your orthodontist may need to stop making adjustments to your braces until the infection clears. If teeth are moving in infected gums, it can lead to serious problems that may be long-lasting.
If you have any oral hygiene queries, don’t hesitate to call a therapist at the clinic, or contact us online - they’re always happy to help.
The clinic sells interdental brushes and Super Floss. Written information on oral hygiene was in the goodie bag you took home on the day we applied your braces. We also have a range of online resources for you to read on how to take care of your teeth and braces, you can find them here.