A Beautiful Smile Starts With a Clean Mouth
Dr. Patel is known for creating beautiful smiles. Here are some tips for taking care of your braces.
Caring for Your Teeth
It’s always important to keep your teeth clean, but you need to take especially good care of them during orthodontic treatment.
By brushing and flossing every day, you'll keep your teeth and gums at their best and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest smile possible.
When your braces come off, you'll see that your extra efforts have been rewarded with a healthy, great-looking smile that'll last the rest of your life.
If you don’t spend a little extra time caring for your braces, you may end up with white spots on your teeth once the braces are removed. This is an unsightly condition that no one wants.
Doing Your Part
To get the healthy and beautiful smile that you want, you, your family dentist, and Dr. Patel will have to work together as a team.
As the patient, you play the key part. It's up to you to make sure that your treatment is successful. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth clean and maintain good dental hygiene while you're wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it. It will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Plaque Is Your Enemy
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that collects on your teeth. It's made of bacteria, food, and saliva. If you let plaque and trapped food stay on and around your braces, they can cause swollen gums, bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks on your teeth.
As your Shelby orthodontist, we’ll teach you the correct way to floss while wearing braces to make sure you remove all plaque regularly.
When to Clean
Brush thoroughly each time you have a meal or snack. If you can't brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.
Carry a travel toothbrush so that you can brush when you aren’t home. At least once every day, brush your teeth and braces thoroughly until they are spotlessly clean, and then floss. This takes a little extra time, so you may want to do it at night before going to bed.
How to Brush
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach plaque and food particles that may be below the gum line.
- Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully. Make sure you cover all areas between your teeth, braces, and the surface of each tooth.
- It will take a few 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.
- Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
- Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
- Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact Orthodontic Associates to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After dinner
- 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. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire.
Don’t swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss, use an antibacterial mouthwash, and use a fluoride treatment for optimal oral hygiene.
How to Floss
Our helpful Shelby orthodontist staff will help you learn proper flossing techniques when you choose us for your orthodontic care.
- For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
- Use a reusable floss threader to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader, and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. 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. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
- If you are flossing without a floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish.
- Floss behind all of your back teeth.
- Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not stop after the first few times flossing, please inform a staff member at your next appointment.
Other Hygiene Helpers
Besides the regular dental hygiene tools we are familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products we can recommend that make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Shelby. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Power Toothbrush or Waterpik: These devices, such as the Oral-B Professional Series toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
Problems Caused By Poor Oral Hygiene
Keeping your teeth and mouth clean through good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can build up around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the buildup of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Prevent Gum Disease
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums. Carefully follow Dr. Patel’s and staff's directions on hygiene to avoid these problems.