Oral Hygiene with Braces
At Safer Orthodontics, we stress (and even overstress!) the need to maintain proper oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment. Great oral hygiene is always the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease, but is all the more important during orthodontic treatment. With braces on, there are many more areas in the mouth for harmful oral bacteria to adhere to. If not removed, the bacteria forms plaque and produces acids which attack the teeth and gums. This may result in cavities, permanent white spots, inflammation of the gums, and bone loss around the affected teeth.
After your braces are on, we will carefully review the appropriate methods to help you maintain a healthy smile. Please remember to continue visiting your general dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleanings.
The following steps serve as a guide to a good oral hygiene regimen.
Brushing with Braces
- Brush the outside surfaces of all the teeth and gumlines with small circular motions.
- Brush between the braces and the gums. The toothbrush should first be angled towards the braces to remove debris and then directed towards the gumline to sweep away residual plaque.
- Brush between the bottom part of the braces and the edges of the teeth. The toothbrush should be angled towards the braces to remove debris.
- Brush between the individual braces. Careful use of an interproximal brush (eg. ProxaBrush) is wonderful for this purpose.
- Brush the tops of the upper and lower teeth.
- Brush the inside of all the teeth and gumlines.
Dr. Safer recommends that patient’s undergoing orthodontic treatment brush their teeth at least five times a day: After waking up in the morning; after each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); and just before going to bed at night. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended because it helps strengthen the enamel of the teeth.
Flossing with Braces
Flossing each day with braces helps remove plaque and food buildup that get caught in crevices between two teeth. When flossing, be careful to avoid pulling on the orthodontic wires with the dental floss. This can damage the braces and wires.
This is how it is done:
- Thread the floss behind the orthodontic wire. A floss threader may help with this process.
- Slip the floss between the teeth, so that one end of the floss sits in front of the teeth and the other end sits behind.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth, forming what almost looks like the letter “C”.
- Slide the floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gumline.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the side of the adjacent tooth.
- Remove the floss and continue on to the next section of teeth.
Rinsing with Braces and Invisalign
It is a good idea to rinse your moth with water after drinking sugary beverages. On the occasion that persistent gingival inflammation occurs, Dr. Safer may recommend the use of a special mouth rinse. If being treated with clear aligners (eg. Invisalign), it is important to thoroughly clean your teeth before re-inserting the aligners. This will minimize the amount of food and bacteria trapped between the teeth and the aligners. For the same reason, we recommend rinsing both your mouth and the aligners after drinking sugary beverages.
Just as plaque can build up on teeth and gums, it can also stick to retainers. It is important to softly brush your retainers every time you brush your teeth. Approved denture cleaning solutions work well, but avoid using hot water, as this can cause irreversible damage to the retainers.
Pet animals, especially dogs, love to chew retainers! Whenever the retainers are not being worn, store them in a safe place and away from pets.
Avoid placing the retainers in a tissue or napkin, as they can inadvertently be mistaken as trash. The best insurance for keeping retainers safe is to store them in their dedicated retainer cases.
For additional information regarding oral hygiene and braces, please contact our office at 732-226-6800 and we will be happy to guide you!