Keeping Your Teeth Healthy While in Braces

shutterstock_179681258.jpg

It's National Children's Dental Health Month!  What better way to celebrate than to pick out some helpful tips to keep your teeth clean while you are in treatment.

1.       Contrary to what you might think, a soft toothbrush is better for you during orthodontic treatment.  Medium and hard bristle toothbrushes should be avoided and can actually harm your gum tissue.

2.       Start your brushing with just water on your toothbrush.  This way, it is easier to see what you are doing and see how much plaque is coming off during your brushing.  Then, place a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush and brush for 2 minutes.

3.       If you are having a hard time brushing for longer than 30 seconds, play a song on your phone or radio, and brush until the song is over.  Most songs are over 2 minutes, so once the song is done, you have reached the critical 2-minute goal.  Just as important, spread your brushing over all surfaces on top and bottom, so that you aren’t missing a spot.

4.       Toothbrushes that are placed at 45-degree angles and moved in circular motions against the teeth, braces and gum tissues are the best ways to make sure that the food stuck between your braces and your gum tissue is effectively removed.

5.       After you brush your teeth at night, spit but DO NOT RINSE the toothpaste off your teeth.  By leaving the fluoride on your teeth, it can help provide a critical layer of protection during the night while you sleep.

6.       Do not attempt to whiten your teeth while in orthodontic treatment.  Whether it is whitening gel, whitening toothpaste or whitening treatment offered by your dentist, it is best to wait 3-4 months AFTER your orthodontic treatment has been completed before you attempt to whiten your teeth.  

7.       Manual or electric?  Electric toothbrushes have shown to be more effective at removing plaque and bacteria for patients in braces.  However, some patients do not like the vibrations on their teeth.  I am in favor of whichever toothbrush that a patient can use effectively and consistently.