Now that you’ve had your braces put on, all you really have to do is wait patiently while they enhance your smile… right?
Wrong! Braces do plenty of the hard work that’s involved in moving teeth into better alignment—but it’s up to you to help keep your oral hygiene in top-notch condition while this process is going on. The wires and brackets used in many types of orthodontic appliances can trap small food particles, and often get in the way of a regular toothbrush. This makes some areas in the mouth hard to reach and tough to keep clean.
But keeping teeth and gums clean and bacteria-free is essential to your oral health. If you don’t put in some extra effort while you’re having orthodontic treatment, you may be more likely to develop tooth decay, gum disease, or other dental problems that can take some sparkle out of your smile. So what’s the best way to clean teeth with braces? We’re glad you asked: Here are 5 tips.
Brush-up on the Basics – Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, and a dab of fluoride toothpaste. Hold the brush like a pencil, with the head at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface, and move it up and down to clean the teeth all over—top, bottom, front and back. When you’re cleaning the front surface, be sure to brush both above and below the brackets. Work your way all around the mouth… and brush your tongue, too. Need a refresher course on proper brushing techniques? Ask a dental professional for a demonstration!
Time It Out – Allow yourself enough time to really do a thorough cleaning job—don’t “rush while you brush.” If you have a music-playing device handy, try doing your routine along with a song you like… and brush for the whole length of the song—about two or three minutes, for the average pop tune.
Don’t Forget Floss – Along with brushing, you really need to floss at least once a day for healthy teeth and gums. Your toothbrush can’t clean the spaces in between teeth—and that’s exactly where plaque bacteria can thrive. This is especially important if you wear braces: Not only do those nasty bacteria cause tooth decay, but they can also lead to periodontal (gum) disease… even cause gum tissue to grow over braces, or result in white spots appearing on your teeth.
Get the Right Gear – If your standard tooth-care equipment just isn’t up to the job, get some special gear: For example, an interdental toothbrush (proxabrush), shaped like a pipe cleaner with a handle, lets you get under brackets and around wires where a regular brush can’t go. A floss threader lets you push one end of your dental floss past an obstruction; then you can grab the floss and use it as you normally would. There’s also special floss with a stiffened end that is designed specifically for use with braces. An oral irrigator (“water pick”) can also help keep those tiny spaces free of debris.
Full Disclosure – You put lots of effort into your oral hygiene—but are you cleaning your teeth as effectively as you could? There’s one easy way to find out: Use an over-the-counter “disclosing solution” or tablet. This oral hygiene aid, made with safe vegetable dyes, will show you exactly where your cleaning regimen is working—and where it isn’t; any areas you’ve missed will be brightly colored by the temporary dye.
Maintaining your oral health while you wear braces can be a challenge—but when the braces come off, your effort will yield a big reward… every time you smile. Call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.