The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is by brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth, braces, and aligners. Over time, these particles turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems during your orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth, and gums for the best possible result.
During orthodontic treatment, it is recommended that you brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your appliances.
The four best times to brush are:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school/work
- After supper
- At bedtime
How to Brush Your Teeth
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth and down on the upper teeth. Brush the front and back of your teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse. Do not swallow any toothpaste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing.
How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces
It’s obvious that food is more likely to get stuck in between your braces, especially if you are eating hard or sticky foods. To brush with braces on, simply follow the same process as above, but carefully brush between your teeth, archwires, and brackets. Don’t apply too much pressure — just enough to push out food particles and clear plaque off the enamel of your teeth. Use toothpaste with fluoride for lasting results and a brighter smile. When rinsing, swish water or mouthwash around and through the gaps in your appliances to further clear out particles.
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Replace Toothbrushes Often
Orthodontic treatment does a number on toothbrushes. You will need to replace your brush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. With any type of braces, it may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your brackets and archwire. It is also important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash or fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic care and after for optimal oral hygiene.
Effects of Not Brushing Teeth with Braces
Skipping brushing your teeth when wearing braces causes plaque buildup. This can lead to a type of gum disease known as gingivitis. Gingivitis quickly leads to receding, red, swollen gums.
Sensitive, diseased gums will bleed easily and cause persistent bad breath. Cavities, discolored and rotten teeth are also common. Gingivitis can result in the need to have teeth removed, which can be painful and costly.
Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
How to Floss Your Teeth With Braces
Floss is one of the best braces cleaning tools. For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
For your braces routine, use the reusable floss threader provided by Prentice Orthodontics to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when your teeth are clean by hearing the squeak of the floss against your enamel. Please use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
When to Floss
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.
Effects of Not Flossing Teeth with Braces
Forgoing flossing your teeth when wearing braces causes plaque buildup. This can lead to a type of gum disease commonly referred to as gingivitis. Untreated, gingivitis quickly leads to receding, red, swollen gums. Sensitive, diseased gums will bleed easily and cause perpetual bad breath. You are also more likely to get cavities, discolored and rotten teeth. This could result in the need to have teeth removed, which is a painful, costly process.
A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. The Proxabrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Cleaning Your Removable Appliances
It is important to clean your removable appliances every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate in aligners just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance daily. It is best to dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablets in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance. Your appliance will taste better, look cleaner, and be free of plaque and bacterial accumulation.