Dental Hygiene With Braces
Proper Daily Dental Hygiene Is Critical
The best way to remove decay-causing plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth three times a day every day. Brushing removes plaque from the tooth surfaces. Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth and in the areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. It is essential in preventing gum disease.
Having a clean mouth is important. It gives you fresh breath and a nicer-looking smile. Brushing and flossing removes a thin sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth. This sticky film, called plaque, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food becomes caught in the brackets and between your teeth. Brushing after meals and flossing will help prevent plaque from forming and should become part of your daily schedule. Use a soft toothbrush and brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth in small circles above and below the brackets. Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.
If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it can leave a permanent white scar on the surface. A waterpik or an electric toothbrush can be a useful addition, however, please continue to see your dentist at least every 6 months for regular dental cleanings.
Flossing with braces takes a few minutes to master, but the effort is well worth it. The first step to flossing is getting the floss under the wire that connects the braces together. A floss threader will help you get the dental floss underneath your archwires. Dental floss with a stiff end is also available. It is pre-cut and is very easy to insert underneath archwires.
Once the floss is under the archwire it can be wrapped around the tooth on one side. The floss is then pushed up toward the gum line and then pulled down toward the wire. This should be repeated four to five times to ensure all plaque is removed. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the wire as you pull down. Then wrap the floss around the neighboring tooth. Once both teeth are done, the floss is pulled out and the process repeated for the next two teeth.
Tips for Better Oral Hygiene
- Carry a travel toothbrush. This lets you brush after eating, no matter where you are.
- Rinse after eating. This keeps food from sticking to your teeth when you can't brush.
- Try an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can make teeth cleaning easier.