At Schatz Orthodontics, we believe a beautiful smile starts with a clean mouth. Braces can complicate an otherwise simple hygienic routine, as food, plaque and debris have more places to hide during orthodontic treatment. If you fail to properly clean your braces and teeth, you might face a long list of dental health problems. From tooth discoloration and decay to bad breath and irritated gums, all of these complications are easily avoided with a few basic steps.
You brush every day – that’s nothing new. However, the type of brush you use becomes an important part of life with braces. A wide brush head, for example, is unable to navigate the tight spaces between brackets and wires, leaving some surfaces of the teeth unclean. When it comes to bristles, medium and hard brushes are too abrasive and may cause damage to the enamel and braces. Toss your old brush, and opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush with a narrow head.
Nearly everyone has to change their brushing habits when having their teeth straightened. You already know that brushing should take a couple of minutes; but did you know there is a specific method that is most effective for oral care? For the most effective cleaning, rotate your toothbrush to a 45 degree angle, always pointing your toothbrush away from your gums. Gently move your toothbrush in a back-and-forth motion, working in small areas one-by-one.
If you brushed your teeth twice daily before braces, expect that frequency to double during treatment. Since food particles are easily trapped around brackets and gums, it is important to brush after every meal and once before bed. For most, this means brushing after breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed. Keep in mind that more frequent brushing will cause your toothbrush to wear out faster, requiring you to replace it on a regular basis.
Flossing is overlooked by many people for a variety of reasons. Whether you go to work or attend school, flossing may seem like a tedious and time-consuming daily chore. However, it is essential when undergoing orthodontic treatment. Be sure to floss at least once per day, taking extra care to move the floss around the wires.
When brushing is not an object, rinse your mouth with water after eating. This helps to dislodge food, plaque and debris that has become trapped before it can harden. As an added bonus, try using a fluoride rinse each morning and night to maintain a clean smile.
Even while undergoing orthodontic treatment, visiting the dentist for regular cleanings is important. In fact, it’s more important than ever. It is easy to forget about your regular check-ups when you are visiting the orthodontist frequently during treatment. However, twice-yearly cleanings provide a level of clean that only comes from a professional.