Braces are a game-changer for anyone with misaligned teeth. Although mildly inconvenient at the time, the life-changing procedure will straighten your pearly whites, so you can confidently display a dazzling smile. Like it or not, society places great importance on appearance, and the most sure-fine way to enhance your aesthetics is through a charming set of perfectly straight teeth.
But to achieve optimal results, you must look after your teeth and braces throughout the ordeal. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for your teeth while wearing braces.
Why looking after your teeth while having braces is important
Following a strict dental hygiene regime is essential at any time. But when you’re wearing braces, a healthy routine becomes critical. Bacteria and plaque are typically trapped around the bracket and may produce acids that can remove mineral from the tooth. From the patient’s perspective, this can appear to be a white or discoloured patch around the bracket. Often, these are unsightly and stay on even after the brackets are removed, creating a “white donut” appearance as the mineral loss occurs around the bracket. It would be a shame if you invested in straightening those pearly whites, only to take them off with ‘white donuts” appearing on your teeth!
Braces entrap all sorts of gunk every time you eat. And if you don’t take good care of your teeth, lingering food scraps besides leading to tooth decay, it can also predispose to gum disease, staining, and bad breath.
It might take a few more minutes of cleaning with braces, but proper brushing, flossing, and cleaning between your teeth and underneath wires and around brackets together with eating habits will help you keep your teeth in good health and achieve a beautiful smile for many years to come.
The ideal dental hygiene routine with braces
Looking after your braces-clad teeth isn’t just a matter of brushing; you’ll need to clean between brackets and teeth, and also underneath the wires. Mouth rinses are beneficial as well but do not substitute a good hygiene routine. Another critical factor is what you eat—you’ve got to avoid hard and crunchy foods that can damage your delicate teeth.
How to brush your teeth with braces
The first step is to choose the right toothbrush for the job. Standard, large-headed brushes are too bulky to manoeuvre into the gaps between your braces, so it’s best to opt for a small-sized option with a flat surface and polished nylon bristles. That way, you can get it right up into those hard-to-reach areas to scrape the plaque and food scraps away.
Dentists recommend you to brush your teeth four times a day while wearing braces, once after each meal, and again, just before you hit the hay. The final bedtime brush helps counteract the build-up of bacteria that occurs overnight, due to reduced saliva production while you sleep.
Follow these three steps for best results:
- Take off the elastic bands and begin the brushing process by cleaning the gum line in your mouth, making gentle circular motions at a 45-degree angle.
- Clean the top of your braces with a downward angle and the bottom with an upward angle, gently moving the brush back and forward until you’re done.
- Revert to circular motions to clean both the chewing surface and the back of your teeth.
The whole process should take about five minutes or so. Finish off by gargling a mouthful of mouthwash to sterilise the space and obtain that fresh feeling.
Flossing your teeth with braces
Flossing lets you clear out plaque from the tiny cracks between your teeth under the gum line, an area that’s impossible to reach with a toothbrush alone. Forty percent of the surface area of your teeth can only be reached via flossing; thus, it’s a critical component of any good dental hygiene routine.
Do the following:
- Cut off a long string of floss you can wrap around the index finger in each hand.
- Loop the floss in a ‘C’ shape between the braces wire and the teeth.
- Gently move the floss from top to bottom, while pulling it back and forth to remove food and clean the accumulation of plaque.
- Use a new section of floss and move on to the next tooth.
It may be difficult to manipulate regular floss beneath the wires of braces, so it may be necessary to purchase a stiffer kind of floss. An example of this is “super floss” which can be found in most supermarkets and chemists. The rigidity of this kind of floss enables it to be threaded easily beneath the wire.
Interdental brushes can also be utilised to clean underneath wires and brackets. These look like small bristle brushes attached to a bendable rigid wire core with a finger handle. Often patients have found these are much easier to clean beneath braches than using floss. It is important to ensure that the interdental brushes are checked regularly for damage to the bristles much like your regular toothbrush. This is to ensure bristles do not get dislodged in your gum tissue which can lead to more serious gum problems.
Examples of interdental brushes are: Piksters; Tepe brushes. They are also commonly found in supermarkets and chemists.
An experienced dentist in Blackburn will practice the process with a patient upon applying a set of braces.
Foods to eat and avoid with braces
Any sort of hard, sticky, crunchy, or sugary foods should be avoided until you’ve had your braces removed.
- Hard foods: Apples, nuts, and hard rolls/bread, etc., are too tough to chew through with braces. However, you may be able to comfortably eat these if you cut them up into extremely small pieces. It’s always best to be cautious, if you believe the food is too hard, it probably is.
- Sticky foods: Caramel, toffee, lollies, and chewing gum, etc., stick to the surface of your teeth and cause tooth decay. Braces make them harder to clean, so they’re best avoided altogether. Furthermore, they can remove bonded brackets and appliances, that have been painstakingly placed in the correct position.
- Crunchy foods: Popcorn, chips, and toasted bread, etc. Can dislodge cemented brackets or buttons if you bite down on them too hard.
- Sugary food and drinks: Ice cream and soft drink will stain the hard-to-reach enamel under your braces, leaving an unsightly discolouration when you get them removed. Causing the cavities between teeth and around braces.
If you’re looking for a trusted dentist, get in touch with Blackburn Family Dental Care today. Our friendly, high-skilled practitioner will explain the teeth straightening process and help you get started. Get ready to begin your journey towards achieving a stunning smile.