Caring for Your Braces
Dr. Dietrich is known for creating beautiful smiles, but you must learn about proper orthodontic care. Here are some tips for taking care of your braces!
Taking care of your teeth improves your overall health. It’s especially important to brush and floss diligently during orthodontic treatment with Dietrich Orthodontics. We want you to have clean and healthy teeth while we work with you to achieve a great smile.
Braces tend to increase the amount of food that hangs around your teeth, so a consistent oral hygiene regimen is important to prevent decay, decalcification, and gum disease.
With a combination of personal oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings/checkups with your dentist, we can not only help you gain a beautiful smile but a healthy one as well.
If you fail to spend a little extra time caring for your braces, you may end up with white spots on your teeth once the braces are removed. This is an unsightly condition that no one wants.
Doing Your Part
To get the healthy and beautiful smile that you want, you, your family dentist, and Dr. Dietrich will have to work together as a team.
As the patient, you play the key part. It's up to you to make sure that your treatment is successful. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth clean and maintain good dental hygiene while wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it. It will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Plaque Is Your Enemy
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that collects on your teeth. It's made of bacteria, food, and saliva. If you let plaque and trapped food stay on and around your braces, they can cause swollen gums, bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks on your teeth.
As your Alliance and Canton orthodontist, we advise brushing your teeth regularly to remove this plaque. We teach our patients the correct way to floss while wearing braces to make sure you remove all plaque regularly.
When to Clean
- Brush thoroughly each time you have a meal or snack.
- If you can't brush right away after a meal, make sure you rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.
- Carry a travel toothbrush so that you can brush when you aren’t home.
- At least once every day, brush your teeth and braces well until they are spotlessly clean, and then floss.
- This takes a little extra time, so you may want to do it at night before going to bed.
How to Brush
You know it’s essential to brush and floss well during your braces treatment at Dietrich Orthodontics, but you may not know the best way to do it.
Relearning this everyday task will teach you to pay attention to the cracks and crevices not only between teeth but around brackets and wires.
Keep these tips in mind when brushing your teeth with braces:
- Let’s start with the basic brushing tools: Either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (one with shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges) can be effective.
- Because braces wear out a toothbrush quickly, replace your brush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
- Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can work just as well. But be sure the electric brush is set to a moderate power level, and don’t let its vibrations cause the back of the brush to hit brackets or braces!
- You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least three times per day (preferably after meals), for at least two minutes each time.
- Remember to brush all tooth surfaces: the outside, the inside, and the chewing surfaces. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums — that’s where food particles can easily get trapped.
- Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and use small circular motions to gently polish them clean.
- For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions.
- Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.
- Brush your gums gently and thoroughly.
- Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
- Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact us at Dietrich Orthodontics to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
How to Floss
Our helpful Canton and Alliance orthodontic team will help you learn proper flossing techniques when you choose us for your orthodontic care.
These tips for flossing with braces will make the process smoother for you, and you'll be a pro in no time.
- Floss every night before you go to bed. That way, you won’t feel rushed.
- When flossing with braces on, it might be necessary to use what’s called a floss threader. This reusable tool allows you to get dental floss underneath your archwire easily.
- Make sure you clean carefully along and under the gumlines.
- Flossing with braces may seem like a difficult process, but it’s crucial. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot faster.
Other Hygiene Helpers
Besides regular dental hygiene tools we’re all familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products Dr. Dietrich recommends to make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: It has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Dietrich. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Waterpik: This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, helping dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies.
- Plaque HD: we recommend and sell Plaque HD toothpaste in our office. This is a disclosing toothpaste that colors any plaque left on your teeth and around your brackets so you know where to continue brushing. Contact us for more information!
Cleaning Your Retainers
Cleaning your retainers after braces have been removed should be part of your daily routine to prevent bacteria and plaque from accumulating on your retainer.
We recommend using Efferdent or Steraligner (sold in our offices). This is actually the product our own team prefers to use to clean their retainers. Contact us for more information.
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment at Dietrich Orthodontics. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the buildup of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Prevent Gum Disease
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums. Carefully follow the hygiene directions given by Dr. Dietrich and his team to avoid these problems.