Practicing Good Dental Hygiene
- Brush after every meal.This means even after a small late night meal or a quick snack from the vending machine. Food particles can get trapped in your braces after you eat, and the longer those particles remain trapped, the higher your risk of developing dental issues, such as a buildup of plaque. It’s important that you practice diligent and consistent dental hygiene when you have braces to prevent staining, infection, and the development of cavities.
- Use an electric toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride.Electric toothbrushes are very effective at removing plaque from your teeth and keeping them clean.If you do not want to invest in an electric toothbrush, you should use a soft toothbrush that has round bristles.
- Make sure you completely understand how to brush correctly and practice the right moves so you can avoid any future problems. Ask your orthodontist to demonstrate for you.
- As well, you should make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. In a recent study, toothpaste that contained fluoride was shown to reduce the development of white spots on teeth by 70%.Your orthodontist may also recommend a fluoride rinse that you can use once a day as part of your brushing routine.
- Make sure you brush for at least two minutes.Rinse your mouth with water before you brush to loosen any food particles that are stuck in your braces. You can also use an interproximal brush, which is designed to fit under the wires of your braces, to remove plaque and food particles in your braces.
- Brush for at least two minutes total, taking care to brush each tooth at the gum line, as well as below and above the brackets. Start with your gum line first. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and carefully make small circles along your gum line. Then, clean the brackets by moving the brush at a downward angle on the top of the brackets.
- Finish brushing the top of your brackets by holding the brush at an upward angle from the top of the brackets and moving the brush in small circles. Rinse your mouth with water to remove the toothpaste. Then, rinse your mouth with mouthwash that does not contain any whitening products (though it should contain fluoride or chlorhexidine).
- Check that your braces and mouth are well brushed by confirming your braces appear shiny. Dull looking metal on your braces means your braces and your teeth are still covered in food and/or bacteria.
- Floss at least once a day with a floss threader.Another key element of good dental hygiene is flossing at least once a day. It can be tricky to floss when you have braces, as you should floss between your braces and under the wires of your braces. Make flossing easier by using a floss threader or an orthodontic flosser. You can buy these products at your local drug store or ask your orthodontist for a sample.
- Use waxed floss, rather than unwaxed floss, as it is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces. The floss threader works by allowing you to attach the floss to a threader, making it easier to slide the floss under your braces and reach your teeth. This also makes it easier to handle.
- Always floss well along and under your gum lines. It may take practice to master flossing with braces, but be patient and take your time.
- If you have spaces between your teeth, use the interproximal brush to go between these spaces when flossing.
Adjusting Your Diet
- Drink lots of water.This will ensure your mouth stays moist and there is enough saliva in your mouth to keep your mouth clean and plaque free. Saliva is your mouth’s natural acid neutralizer and it will help to eliminate the acids that develop in your mouth as a result of the bacteria in your mouth. Encourage constant saliva production by drinking lots of water throughout the day.
- Try to stick to still water as sparkling water increases tartar deposits and lowers the pH in your mouth.
- Reduce your coffee, tea, and soda intake.Coffee and tea are known to stain your teeth and it can be difficult to properly remove coffee or tea from your teeth when you have braces. As well, sodas and other sugary drinks like sports drinks usually contain phosphoric acid, which can erode the enamel on your teeth and lead to a buildup of plaque, causing cavities and tooth sensitivity.
- Avoid foods high in sugar and artificial flavors or colors.Though it may be tempting to maintain a diet of soft treats, like ice cream, pudding, jello, and hot chocolate, avoid overindulging on sweets. Too much sugar can lead to the development of dental issues like plaque-building cavities, which can lead to white spots when your braces come off.
- Cut down on known cavity causers in your diet and try to only eat treats or sweets occasionally. Always brush your teeth well after eating foods high in sugar and artificial flavors or colors so these products do not remain on your teeth for a long period of time.
- Rinse with mouthwash or dilute half of a spoon of baking soda in a glass of water and then rinse properly to eliminate any bacteria and to protect your enamel.