Looking after your teeth is harder with braces. With so many tiny spaces to trap food, there’s more chance of plaque. Plaque can lead to other dental issues. This is why it’s important to know and follow the right braces care and orthodontic instructions.
While looking after your braces and your teeth may seem excessive or tiresome, neglecting oral hygiene can lead to greater oral health problems. It might mean wearing braces for longer. It might even cause unsightly stains on your teeth. And it could mean more visits to the orthodontist.
You do need extra responsibility for braces care, and it’s something you can prepare for.
There’s More to Braces Than Just a Better Smile
Besides boosting your smile and your confidence, braces play a big role in correcting misaligned and overcrowded teeth. An abnormal bite can lead to other problems, like impaired plaque removal. In turn, this can lead to cavities and gum inflammation.
Following our braces care guide can help prevent damage to the braces and your teeth. This can create a more comfortable orthodontic experience, too.
Learning basic care, even, can help you follow orthodontic recommendations and keep your gums and teeth healthy when you’re wearing braces.
Here’s our guide to looking after your braces and your smile.
Brushing and Flossing
If your dental hygiene was slack before braces, now’s the time to up your game. Looking after your teeth and gums becomes especially important with braces. That means taking time to brush and floss regularly. Be gentle, though, you don’t want to damage the brackets and wires.
Grab a toothbrush that has a soft head and a toothpaste with fluoride. Get into the habit of brushing after every meal. Foods are a lot more likely to get stuck in the braces, resulting in plaque build-up.
Also, flossing after meals gets rid of food particles jammed between the wiring of the braces and your teeth. Again, be gentle with your braces care. Thread the floss carefully between the wires and your teeth and slowly work back and forth. Too much force when you floss can damage the braces.
Looking After Aligners
If you have invisible braces like Invisalign, the good news is that oral health care is easier. You can remove the aligners to eat, brush and also floss.
But aligners are designed to fit snugly against the teeth. That’s why you need to brush thoroughly before popping them back in.
Try to brush your teeth several times a day, and especially after eating.
Use Topical Fluoride
When you start orthodontic treatment, you’ll get a prescription for a sodium fluoride gel. The gel helps keep tooth decay at bay by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in your teeth enamel. This doesn’t replace daily oral hygiene, though!
Use your fluoride gel at bedtime. Place a pea-sized amount on your toothbrush and brush as normal. When you’re done, spit out the get but don’t rinse, drink or gargle anything as it’ll wash the fluoride off. You want the active ingredients to stay on the teeth for as long as possible for optimum teeth and braces care.
Practice Braces Care with a Mouthguard
You can carry on playing sports even with braces. But there’s always the possibility of taking a hit to the mouth. So, wear a specially designed mouthguard. Made of durable plastic, the mouthguard fits comfortably over the braces to protect the soft tissues in the mouth.
Careful What You Eat
Be aware of what you eat when you wear braces. Excess consumption of starchy and sugary foods can cause a build-up of plaque around the brackets. This can lead to stained teeth, cavities and even gum disease. Especially stay away from chewy and sticky foods like corn on the cob, dried fruits and gum.
Hard foods are also off limits. Foods like popcorn and nuts can break wires and loosen your brackets. Even healthier options like carrots and raw apples are problematic. Their hard textures may damage your wires. If you do want to eat healthy crunchy foods, spend time cutting them into bite-size pieces.
What to Do When Brackets or Wires Break
Loose bands, protruding wires and broken braces can cause problems. Most of the time it’s not an emergency, though. But you should still set up an office visit as soon as you can.
If you suffer a severe facial or mouth injury, seek help right away.
If you’re not able to see your orthodontist, here are a few ways to get through some common issues:
Broken or protruding wires
Use the soft rubber end of a pencil and move the wire to a more comfortable position. If you can’t, apply orthodontic wax over the protruding end. Never cut the wire. You might just inhale or swallow it.
If you develop mouth sores from a poking wire, rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash or warm salt water. You can also apply an over the counter dental anaesthetic to help numb your mouth.
You can temporarily reattach the brackets with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Or, place the wax over the loose bracket as a cushion between your gums and the bracket. You’ll usually receive orthodontic wax when you first get braces.
Loose spacers and bands
Loose spacers must be replaced or repositioned should they slip or even fall out. Loose bands will have to be re-cemented or replaced. Try to save the band and schedule an appointment as soon as you can.
Listen to Instructions
When you get your braces, you may receive extra instructions, like placing rubber bands on the braces at particular times. The instructions you get are designed for your individual needs. The aim is to optimise the results with exceptional and dedicated braces care.
Having braces requires a little more attention for your mouth, but the results are worth it.
Book a consultation at Geoffrey Wexler Orthodontist today to learn more about braces care and prepare for the best possible orthodontic treatment.