When you wear braces, your orthodontist, Dr. Seth Senestraro, wants you to know how important it is to pay extra attention to your oral hygiene in order to prevent staining, decay, or gum disease. You should also take care not to damage your braces as well. For example, habits like eating sticky sweets or chewy foods, munching on crunchy or hard foods, biting your lips, tongue thrusting, and excessive mouth breathing can all damage your braces and oral health during your orthodontic treatment, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.Damaging your braces or suffering from poor oral health can also significantly delay your treatment. Since most patients start counting down the days until their braces are removed from the moment they have them put on, taking care of your oral health means enjoying a shorter and more successful treatment. Here are a few tips for patients on how to maintain a healthy smile while wearing braces.
While brushing twice a day will sufficiently take care of the oral hygiene requirements for most people, patients with braces should always brush after eating. This includes brushing after enjoying a treat from the vending machine late in the afternoon or after a late-night snack attack. The reason brushing after eating anything is so important is because food particles become easily lodged in and under your braces. The longer those particles stay trapped, the greater your risk becomes of developing oral health problems that could sabotage your treatment.When brushing, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, or an electric toothbrush if more convenient.Start brushing by thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water to loosen any food trapped in or around your braces. When you brush, pay close attention to brushing each individual tooth at the gum line and below and above the brackets. Begin by brushing your gum line first, making sure to hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle starting from the bottom of the brackets. Finally, rinse one more time after brushing.
Other Ways to Clean Your Braces
While already an important daily habit, flossing becomes even more vital for patients with braces. Make sure you floss not only under the wires of your braces but between your teeth as well. If you have trouble flossing while wearing braces, consider using a floss threader, which you can purchase at your local pharmacy. Additionally, buying waxed floss will make it easier to slide the floss between your teeth, while also making it less likely you’ll snag the floss on your braces as can commonly occur when using unwaxed floss.
Monitor What You Eat
During the course of your orthodontic treatment, you need to be more aware of the types of foods you eat. Eating too many foods that are high in sugar or starch can cause a buildup of plaque to develop around the brackets of your braces, which can lead to the development of cavities, gum disease, and even permanent staining of your teeth. You need to especially avoid chewy and sticky foods, like taffy, corn of the cob, caramel, dried fruits, and chewing gum, all of which can become easily stuck on your braces and be hard to remove.Harder foods are also a no go. Foods like nuts, beef jerky, popcorn, and ice can cause the brackets and wires of your braces to snap. Even healthy foods like carrots and apples can cause problems due to their hard texture. To eat these types of crunchy foods, make sure to cut them into small slices first.
If you happen to forget your toothbrush or just don’t have the opportunity to brush after eating, vigorously rinse your mouth with water and brush as soon as you can. If your braces are rubbing uncomfortably against your cheeks or gums, Dr. Senestraro can provide you with a special wax to place on your braces to prevent any further chaffing. Wearing your braces shouldn’t cause you any significant discomfort, so if you experience any pulling, pinching, or probing, make sure to mention the problem during your next visit to see your orthodontist, Dr. Senestraro.