Embarking on orthodontic treatment is an exciting step towards improving your dental alignment and achieving the smile you’ve always wanted. However, while braces or aligners work to straighten your teeth, it’s vital to pay close attention to your oral hygiene routine. The wires and brackets can create nooks and crannies that trap food particles, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and dental issues. To ensure the success of your treatment and maintain optimal oral health, it’s crucial to adopt proper care techniques. In this blog, we will walk you through the essential guidelines and strategies for caring for your teeth during orthodontic treatment, enabling you to achieve a healthy, radiant smile you can be proud of.
First and foremost, it’s important to brush your teeth thoroughly. This is important whether you have traditional metal braces or clear aligners. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. However, during orthodontic treatment it is recommended that you also brush your teeth after every meal. Make sure you’re using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your enamel, as well as the brackets or wires of your braces. To reach all surfaces of the teeth and remove any food particles, start at the gum line and work your way around in a circular motion. An electric toothbrush can also be effective at reaching those hard-to-reach areas.
Flossing is an essential part of oral hygiene regardless of whether you have braces or not, but it’s especially important when wearing braces as food particles become trapped easily. Flossing with braces requires a little extra effort and the use of specialized tools. To effectively floss with braces, start by using a floss threader. Take a piece of wax-coated floss and thread it through the loop of the floss threader. Gently guide the threader under the wire of your braces, positioning the floss between your teeth and the wire. Once the floss is in place, carefully slide it up and down, making a C-shape around each tooth, and move it along the gum line. Take your time and be gentle to avoid snapping the floss and causing damage to your braces. Repeat this process between each tooth, using a clean section of floss for each space. Alternatively, interdental brushes or water flossers can be used to clean between the teeth and around the brackets. Regular flossing with braces is crucial for removing plaque and preventing gum disease and tooth decay, so make it a part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
Mouthwash can be a valuable addition to your oral hygiene routine during orthodontic treatment. Using an antimicrobial mouthwash specifically designed for individuals with braces can help combat bacteria, reduce plaque buildup, and promote gum health. The swirling action of mouthwash reaches areas that brushing and flossing alone may miss, such as around brackets and wires. It can effectively flush out food particles, debris, and bacteria, leaving your mouth feeling fresh and clean. Additionally, mouthwash with fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and provide added protection against cavities. Incorporating mouthwash into your daily routine, along with regular brushing and flossing, can contribute to a healthier mouth and support successful orthodontic treatment outcomes. Remember to consult your orthodontist or dentist for recommendations on the most suitable mouthwash for your specific needs.
Visiting Your Orthodontist
It’s also important to visit your orthodontist regularly as they can check for any signs of damage or decay and provide advice on how to properly care for your braces. Your orthodontist will monitor your progress, ensure your teeth and gums are healthy, and make any necessary adjustments. Communicate any concerns or issues you may have during these visits to receive appropriate guidance and support. The frequency of orthodontic visits may vary depending on the specific treatment plan and individual circumstances. In general, most orthodontists recommend regular check-up appointments every 4 to 8 weeks throughout the course of orthodontic treatment.
Dietary considerations play a crucial role in maintaining the health of your teeth and braces during orthodontic treatment. It’s important to avoid sticky, chewy, and hard foods that can damage brackets or wires. Steer clear of items like caramel, taffy, chewing gum, nuts, popcorn, and crunchy snacks. Instead, opt for soft and easy-to-chew foods that are gentle on your braces, such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, soups, smoothies, and tender meats. Cutting hard or crunchy foods into small, bite-sized pieces can make them easier to chew and reduce the risk of damaging your braces. Additionally, be mindful of your sugar intake and limit consumption of sugary treats, soda, sports drinks, and fruit juices, as they can increase the risk of tooth decay. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also important for maintaining good oral health. Finally if you have clear aligners, be sure to remove them before mealtime and store them in their protective case to prevent them from being lost or damaged. Following these dietary considerations will help protect your braces, promote oral hygiene, and support the success of your orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic Emergency Care
Despite your best efforts, emergencies can still occur during orthodontic treatment. Be prepared by knowing how to handle common issues:
- Loose brackets or wires: Contact your orthodontist immediately for guidance.
- Irritation or soreness: Apply orthodontic wax to alleviate discomfort.
- Broken appliances: Reach out to your orthodontist for assistance.
Lifestyle and Habits
Certain habits can hinder your orthodontic treatment and overall oral health. Avoid activities such as nail-biting or chewing on pens, as they can damage braces and teeth. Additionally, smoking and tobacco use can compromise the success of your treatment and increase the risk of oral health problems. Adopt healthy habits to promote optimal oral health.
Proper care for your teeth during orthodontic treatment is essential for achieving a healthy, beautiful smile. By following the recommended brushing techniques, diligently flossing, making wise dietary choices, and attending regular orthodontic check-ups, you can maintain optimal oral hygiene and ensure the success of your treatment. It’s important to be patient and consistent with your oral care routine, as the effort you put in now will result in a lifetime of improved dental health. Remember, your orthodontist and dental team are there to support you and provide guidance throughout your orthodontic journey. Embrace these care practices, stay committed to your oral hygiene routine, and look forward to enjoying the confident, radiant smile you’ve always desired.
Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.