Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, proper oral hygiene is vital. The extra effort and special care you give of your braces, teeth and gums will ensure the best possible outcome. We recommend:
- Water Pik
- Interdental Toothbrush (Proxabrush)
- Mouth Rinse (Antibacterial, like Listerine)
- Topical Fluoride
We recommend using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully in small circular motions. Completely clean all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Each surface of every tooth should be scrubbed and cleaned. Many patients find that an electric tooth brush works better for them than a conventional tooth brush.
We recommend that you brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- After breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use fluoride rinse throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene. We will provide the fluoride rinse.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing is more difficult when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Use a floss threader or Superfloss to direct the floss under your archwire daily. Get a piece of floss about 12 inches long, and slide it up and down along the tooth surface. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it.
Floss at bedtime to make sure you remove any plaque missed by brushing. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little.
Remember that consistent brushing and flossing result in a healthy and beautiful smile.
A water pik is useful in helping to keep the teeth, braces and gum tissues clean. Use a 50/50 mixture of water and Listerine in the reservoir. This is helpful with braces and with fixed appliances such as expanders and bite plates.
A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently and slowly to avoid damaging your wires.
OrthoGuard is a topical fluoride rinse used in orthodontics as a dental caries preventive. It is not a substitute for tooth paste. It will strengthen the enamel and thereby help avoid white spots (decalcification) and cavities.
We recommend that you follow the label directions. At bedtime after brushing, swish the OrthoGuard making sure it covers all surfaces of your teeth. Then spit it out. Do not swallow it. Drinking and eating are not recommended for 30 minutes after using OrthoGuard, since doing so will dilute or rinse away the active ingredient. It is best to use it right before going to bed.
Cleaning A Removable Appliance
Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, clean the appliance daily. Dissolve a Retainer Bright, Polident, or Efferdent tablet in cool tap water and soak your appliance at least once a day. Your appliance will taste better, and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation. Do not use warm or hot water as it can distort the appliance, making it not fit properly.