How to Care For Your Braces
Dr. Humphrey is known for creating beautiful smiles. Here are our tips to take care of your braces.
Take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment.
Taking care of your teeth improves your overall health. It’s especially important to brush and floss diligently during orthodontic treatment. 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 obtain 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. Humphrey 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 you're 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 St. Peters and Wentzville orthodontist, we advise brushing your teeth regularly to remove this plaque. We teach all of 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, be sure to at least 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 thoroughly 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.
It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice/day to lower your risk of decalcification and decay. Ideally, brushing your teeth four to five times a day is preferred to remove all food that gets stuck on your teeth after meals.
Keep these tips in mind when brushing your teeth with braces:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush that’s in good condition. Because braces wear out a toothbrush quickly, replace your brush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
- Brush around all the parts of your braces and every surface of your teeth — fronts, sides and backs. Be sure to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. A good way to tell if you’re brushing correctly is if your braces look clean and shiny, and you can see the edges of the brackets clearly.
- 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 Humphrey Orthodontics to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
While people can often feel that flossing is tedious, it is equally important to help remove food stuck between your teeth.
To help with the task while wearing braces, use a floss threader to get under the wires of the braces to reach in-between the teeth.
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 very important. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot faster.
A hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse helps reduce inflammation on your cheeks and gum tissue.
It helps your tissues heal while you have braces. Saltwater rinses are another mouth rinse that can help reduce inflammation and irritation of your gum tissues.
An interdental toothbrush is a helpful tool to clean underneath the wire and the braces.
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.
To clean your retainers, dissolve a denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature, and soak your appliance once a day.
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 Dr. Humphrey’s and the staff's directions on hygiene to avoid these problems.
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. 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.