You already know how important it is to take care of your teeth. Dental hygiene is even more important when you have braces for a variety of reasons. In order to brush and floss your teeth effectively, you may need to change your technique a bit now that you have braces.
This guide will help you learn how to take care of your teeth while you’re in braces so that your final result will be a dazzling smile.
Why is brushing your teeth important with braces?
Braces consist of brackets that attach to your teeth and bands that fit around your back molars. They also include an arch wire that connects all of these brackets and bands together to move your teeth into place. All of this orthodontic equipment in your mouth creates extra spaces for food particles and bacteria to hide and cause decay and gum disease.
Acids produced by the hidden bacteria eat into your tooth enamel and can cause demineralization or white marks on your teeth. These permanent marks are noticeable when you get your braces off, and look like little squares on the front of your teeth that are whiter than the tooth material around them. But this can be prevented by brushing your teeth thoroughly while you have your braces on and by avoiding too much sugar and acids (think soda). Using a fluoride rinse is also helpful in protecting your enamel.
Here are some tips for brushing your teeth with braces that will help to make sure you remove all food particles and don’t miss any spots.
- Using a soft bristled toothbrush, brush along the gum line above and below your brackets to ensure you scrub away any plaque forming there. This is a commonly missed area and you may need to push your lip out of the way to get your brush on your gum line.
- Brush around your brackets and archwire as well to remove any food or plaque.
- Brush the back and sides of your teeth as well, taking extra care to brush the back molars and the bands around them.
- Be sure to brush gently and use a brush with soft bristles rather than medium or hard bristles. Sometimes a toothbrush with a smaller head is useful for getting into the smaller spaces. An electric toothbrush can be helpful.
- You may need to replace your toothbrush more often as braces will wear out the bristles faster.
It is also important to floss your teeth while you have braces. The archwire makes flossing a little more difficult. However, it can still be done with a little extra effort.
- Thread the floss underneath your archwire and then push the floss between your teeth as you would normally.
- Use a floss holder made for braces. These have a thinner end to slip under the archwire.
- Use a floss threading needle, sometimes provided by your orthodontist. It is usually plastic and shaped like a sewing needle. It isn’t sharp, just has an eye on one end and a narrow end to make it easier to get the floss under your archwire.
- Super floss can be helpful. It consists of a reinforced end for easier threading and spongy floss for getting into small spaces.
Your orthodontist will usually recommend that you rinse with mouthwash after brushing. Mouthwash gets into the smallest places in your mouth and kills the bacteria that may be hiding there and causing decay. Mouthwash also helps keep your breath fresh.
When and How Often You Should Brush with Braces
It is a good idea to brush more often when you have braces. Whenever possible, brush your teeth after every meal and snack. It can help to carry a toothbrush with you in your purse or backpack. If you can’t brush, the next best option is to rinse your mouth out with water to dislodge any food particles that may be stuck in your brackets. At the very least, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day.
Learn Proper Braces Care from Andover Orthodontics
At Andover Orthodontics we have seen patients who suffer from the consequences of poor dental hygiene while wearing braces. That is why we stress the importance of braces care, especially proper brushing and flossing habits. By taking good care of your teeth while you are wearing braces, your smile will be even better when you get your braces off.