When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, having a solid dental hygiene routine is essential. While this is an important part of oral care for everyone, it plays a key role in successful orthodontic treatment. The tight spaces between the brackets, wires, and other appliances on your teeth can easily trap food particles. If you aren’t brushing and flossing regularly, this can quickly lead to a build-up of plaque and bacteria. These feed on the sugars that enter your mouth and produce acids that can damage your teeth and gums. Brushing up on the basics of braces and care is important part of your orthodontic health, and we’re here to help!
While cavities and tooth decay are frustrating enough on their own, they can also cause secondary oral health issues if left untreated. Here at Dietrich Orthodontics, we’ve seen firsthand how this can affect a patient’s treatment plan, often by extending the time spent in braces. In more serious cases, braces have had to be removed while waiting for a dentist to resolve problems with the mouth and gums before resuming orthodontic treatment.
Knowing how important your oral health is for a confident smile, you’ll want to ensure you’re making the most of your dental hygiene routine as an orthodontic patient. Let’s brush up on the basics below!
Once your braces are in place, you may find it necessary to adjust how you brush your teeth. You will probably need to brush them more often, too! We recommend brushing your teeth after every meal and preferably after every snack as well. Brushing 3-4 times a day for at least two minutes each time keeps food particles and plaque from building up in the braces and teeth. If you can’t brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you are able to break out your toothbrush!
No specific toothpaste is needed for brushing teeth with braces, but fluoride toothpaste is recommended. We also suggest using mouthwash daily to rinse around your brackets. This helps to clean out the tiny spaces between teeth, where food particles may still be trapped after brushing and flossing. To correctly brush your teeth with braces, stick to the following guidelines.
- Hold the toothbrush parallel to the floor against the side of the teeth, and move the toothbrush in small circular motions, following the regular curve of the gums and teeth as you go from tooth to tooth.
- Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly, making sure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
- Remember to brush the tops of teeth and insides of your teeth, the back of your mouth, and behind the molars. Brush upward on the lower teeth and downward on the upper teeth, and brush the roof of your mouth and tongue before rinsing.
- To properly clean the brackets, angle the brush head against them, and don’t forget to brush thoroughly under the wires as well!
Once you’re done, inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they’re spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror to see if you’ve missed anything. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets! If you find a problem, let us know. Dr. Dietrich will be able to advise you on whether or not it needs to be checked out or repaired.
Favorite flossing tips
Flossing can try your patience at the best of times, but it’s really important to floss every night when wearing braces. Even if it seems you’ve brushed away any remnants of food, braces can easily trap tiny particles of it in places that are hard to see and reach.
Fortunately, there are products available that make this a much easier process! Floss threaders are a great example. This tool has a stiff end that allows you to floss between the brackets and under the archwire easily. To correctly floss with braces, try these tips.
- Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire, above the space between the two teeth. Insert the floss halfway through, and then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, you’ll be able to hear a slight squeaking sound.
- Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C,” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
- Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.
The whole flossing process may take up to 20 minutes in the beginning, but your speed will increase with practice so hang in there! It will become second nature in no time.
Give your smile the care it deserves with Dietrich Orthodontics
Taking good care of your smile is one of the best ways you can ensure success in your orthodontic journey! By following the guidelines and tips we’ve listed above, you’ll be able to keep your mouth healthy while we work on straightening your teeth. If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic care, our expert team is happy to walk you through the ins and outs of the treatment process. Want to learn more about being proactive with your oral health? Get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with Dr. Dietrich!