Did you know that Daniel & Jones Orthodontics has been making central Arkansas families smile for more than 30 years? That’s a lot of braces, so we know a thing or two about these popular appliances. There’s one aspect of the process that isn’t always discussed in much detail, but it’s extremely important to the overall success of your treatment plan. Maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine is essential to achieving a straighter smile, but what exactly does that mean for braces patients? To find out, read through our top tips for brushing with braces below!
Be prepared to spend extra time on oral care
Once braces straighten your teeth, it will be much easier to reach the plaque accruing on and between your teeth. This means cleaning them will be faster and more effective. Things are a bit more complicated while you’re still wearing braces, though. The brackets and wires create additional spaces for bacteria and food particles to become trapped and accumulate. For this reason, you’ll need to spend extra time on your dental hygiene routine. Many patients find they spend up to three times as long on their oral care as they did before braces, but it’s well worth the time knowing your mouth is healthy and that you’re on your way to an amazing smile!
Choose the right toothbrush for your needs
You don’t need to use a particular type of toothbrush while you’re in braces, but it should have soft bristles. The brackets are already applying gentle force to the teeth to move them, and a soft-bristled brush will help reduce any additional stress on them. We also recommend manual toothbrushes for the extra power they provide! While manual toothbrushes do a perfectly good job of keeping teeth clean, they can sometimes leave food particles and plaque behind, even with thorough brushing.
Stick with a fluoridated toothpaste
As with toothbrushes, there is no specific toothpaste recommended for brushing with braces. However, it should contain fluoride as this mineral helps strengthen tooth enamel, reduce the risk of tooth decay, and minimize the acid erosion caused by some foods and drinks. To keep your teeth strong and healthy, you should use fluoride toothpaste even if you live in an area with fluoridated water.
Brushing effectively with braces
Most patients will need to adjust their brushing technique once braces are placed. Use the guidelines below for the best results!
- Remove elastics, bands, or removable parts of orthodontic appliances.
- Hold the toothbrush against the front sides of the teeth, and move the toothbrush in small circular motions. Go from tooth to tooth, following the regular curve of the gums and teeth.
- Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly. Make sure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
- Moving top to bottom, brush each wire all the way around the upper and lower teeth.
- Take care to brush the biting surfaces of the teeth, the back sides of the teeth, and behind the molars.
- Brush the roof of the mouth and tongue before rinsing.
- Angle the brush head against each bracket and brush under the wires as well.
- Rinse thoroughly, then examine your teeth and braces in the mirror. If there are any remaining food particles, be sure to remove them.
Since plaque can form in as little as 48 hours, you don’t ever want to give it a chance to get comfortable! We recommend brushing once in the morning, again after every meal, and one more time before bed. We realize this may not always be possible, but at a minimum, you should be brushing every morning and night for at least two minutes each time. If you can’t brush immediately after a meal, rinsing with water can help flush out any lingering food particles.
Floss every night before bed
Flossing can be a bit tricky with braces, but it’s an essential component of any good oral hygiene routine. Fortunately, floss threaders make it much easier to floss between your teeth and get under the archwire! This reusable tool has a stiff end that can get in between the brackets and under the wire more efficiently. These simple steps will also help ensure the best flossing method.
- Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire, above the space between the two teeth.
- Insert the floss halfway through, then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, there should be a slight squeaking sound.
- Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be gentle and try not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
- Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.
Make mouthwash part of your oral hygiene routine
While mouthwash shouldn’t take the place of brushing or flossing, it can be an excellent tool for boosting oral health! It covers areas of the mouth that a toothbrush and floss may not be able to reach, like the gums and other soft tissues. Rinses can also help if you struggle with gingivitis, periodontal disease, or a chronically dry mouth.
To make the most of these products, it helps to know the differences between cosmetic rinses and therapeutic mouthwashes. For example, cosmetic rinses will temporarily improve bad breath and create a pleasant taste in your mouth, but they can’t kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. On the other hand, therapeutic mouthwashes are designed to have an impact on oral bacteria and introduce healthy nutrients into your mouth.
Using mouthwash leads to better breath, greater plaque prevention, and a reduced risk of cavities. We’re happy to recommend mouthwashes designed for use with braces at your next appointment!
Schedule regular checkups with your dentist
You’ll be scheduled for follow-up appointments with us every 6-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Daniel or Dr. Jones will check that things are progressing as they should be. They’ll also make any necessary adjustments and may change the wire or bands on your braces. These check-ups are an important part of every treatment plan, but you should also continue seeing your dentist regularly throughout the treatment process! They will clean your teeth, use a special tool to remove plaque and tartar, then polish your teeth to remove surface stains. Your teeth will also be flossed to remove any lingering debris. This is one of the easiest ways to keep your mouth healthy and happy during orthodontic treatment (and beyond!)
Trust Daniel & Jones Orthodontics for the best in orthodontic care
There’s an important link between oral health and achieving a straighter smile. Following the guidelines set out by our doctors and utilizing the tips above will help ensure a healthy mouth while we work on giving you a better bite! Our team is always here to help with questions or concerns about dental hygiene during treatment. To learn more about being proactive with oral health, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with one of our offices!