ORAL HYGIENE, BRUSHING, FLOSSING WITH BRACES – WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
If you have crooked teeth, you are bound to want to have them straightened. Braces are ideal for this and a simple visit to an orthodontist will start you on the road to obtaining them. They are vital when it comes to dealing with malocclusion – the correct medical name given to a bit that does not fit the norm – as they will not only allow the patient to present their best smile to the world. They will also make eating a lot easier. When the teeth are not in the correct position, it can make cleaning them a little difficult as it is easier to miss the food, bacteria or plaque that gets caught behind misshapen teeth.
There is however a problem when wearing braces, and that is keeping the teeth clean and providing an overall level of oral hygiene. It seems like a bit of a catch 22 situation. You can have oral hygiene problems with your normal teeth, and then you can get oral hygiene problems when you are trying to straighten them. In the same way that it is important to look after your teeth – and by getting braces you are proving your commitment to that – you will have to look after your braces. By taking care of them, you can stop them from being damaged, allow them to work for longer, and prevent damage to the teeth they are covering.
Not only will your teeth feel better, but your whole mouth will feel healthier about having the braces in. When they are first put in place, your orthodontist should explain how to look after them. The first thing they should tell you is how to clean them.
BRUSHING AND FLOSSING TEETH WHEN YOU HAVE BRACES
As well as keeping the teeth white, it is important to get rid of all the bacteria that can settle on them. A sensible routine will include the following actions:
- Removing the elastic and anything else that you can safely take off the frame.
- Cleaning the braces first. Carefully work the brush around the pins and wires. Start at the top of a wire and move the brush down the length. Make sure that everything you can detect is removed.
- When it comes to brushing, take time and work on one tooth before moving on to the next one. Angle to brush so that it is 45 degrees to the gums, and then spend around 10 seconds moving the brush around the tooth. Try to get the brush to the back of the teeth so that you can remove any food or bacteria that have gathered there.
- Always floss. If you cannot do it after each meal, make sure that you do it before going to bed. It is possible to get products that are designed to help people floss when they are wearing braces. Floss threaders are recommended by many orthodontists.
- Use warm water to rinse after you have brushed as this will remove any last items that have not already been removed.
- Check your teeth in the mirror and examine the braces to ensure that you are happy with the job you have done.
To make sure that you keep on top of things, it will be important to make plenty of visits to the orthodontist and let them check that you are doing the right things. While they are making the necessary changes to the braces, they can ensure that your oral hygiene is up to standard. When they have finished, it is likely that the braces will feel a little tight and this can be a concern. This could mean that you are not able to reach parts of the teeth with the brush or floss. If this is the case, take extra time and care to ensure that you are able to reach as much of the surface of all the teeth as possible.
If you are missing areas that should be cleaned thoroughly, you could be at risk of tooth decay, cavities and the onset of gum disease. Additional support will be provided by the orthodontist as they will give you fluoride treatment as this is known to protect the enamel of the teeth and stop decay setting in. As you would expect, your orthodontist will be checking up on what you are doing and is going to be telling you to improve if they feel that you are not doing enough to protect your teeth while you are wearing braces.
Don’t be surprised if they suggest that you use different products than the ones you used before you were fitted with braces. They will understand that this is a complicated way to go and will be even more understanding when it is a child who is struggling with oral hygiene while their braces are in place. Threader floss in particular may be hard to get used to, but the results will be worth it as you will be able to reach around the wires in a way that you could never do when using ordinary floss.
It is not just the orthodontist being strict when they tell you how much care you must take of your teeth. You may not notice the problems building up, but if you are not careful, the braces will come off and you will see that your teeth are not in the perfect condition you were hoping they would be. The braces can play their part by making sure that the teeth are straight and in the correct position in the mouth, but it is the care you give them that will improve the overall condition.
The pain that you may have gone through will be nothing compared to the pain you will feel if the struggle was for nothing. Don’t be afraid to ask your orthodontist for help as they will know what is required. Additionally, they will be as happy as you are when the hard work pays of and you have bright, white and most importantly healthy teeth.