Note: This article has been updated in September 2022.
Braces can be a game-changer for anyone with misaligned teeth. Although mildly inconvenient while you’re wearing them, braces can help with teeth straightening and correcting any bite issues you may have, so you can confidently display a dazzling smile and enjoy eating your food without worries.
But to achieve optimal results, you must look after your teeth and braces throughout the treatment process. So in this article, we will go through everything you need to know about caring for your teeth while wearing braces.
Why It’s Important To Look After Your Teeth While Wearing Braces
As your dentist will recommend, practising good dental hygiene is essential at any time, and a healthy dental routine becomes especially critical when you start wearing braces.
This is because bacteria and plaque can become trapped around the brackets of the braces, producing acids that can remove minerals from the tooth and appear as white or discoloured patches around the bracket. This discolouration may remain even after removing the brackets, creating a post-braces stain.
Furthermore, braces can entrap food particles while you eat as well. Without good dental hygiene, lingering food scraps can lead to tooth decay and increase your risk of gum disease, staining, and bad breath.
While cleaning your teeth with braces may take longer than usual, it’s essential to develop the habit. Proper brushing, flossing, and cleaning between your teeth and braces components can help to keep your dental health in good condition and ensures better oral hygiene and appearance.
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 underneath the wires as well. Rinsing your mouth can be beneficial but can’t fully substitute a good dental hygiene routine. You should also be aware of what you eat – try to avoid hard or crunchy foods that can damage your teeth or braces, especially in the early days of braces treatment.
If you are unsure about how to properly maintain your teeth while wearing braces, get in touch with your dentist in Blackburn for advice on what to do.
How To Brush Your Teeth With Braces
The first step is to choose the right toothbrush for the job.
Standard, large-headed brushes may be too bulky to manoeuvre between the gaps of your braces, so it’s best to opt for a smaller-sized option with a flat surface and polished nylon bristles. That way, you can easily access hard-to-reach areas to remove plaque and food scraps on your teeth.
Dentists often recommend brushing your teeth four times a day while wearing braces, once after each meal and before you go to bed. The final brush before bed is essential, as it can help to counteract the build-up of bacteria that occurs overnight due to reduced saliva production while you sleep.
For the best brushing results with braces, follow the steps below:
- Take off the elastic bands and begin brushing 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 the chewing surface and the back of your teeth.
The whole process should take about five minutes or so. Finish off by rinsing with mouthwash to sterilise the space for a fresher feeling.
You can also utilise interdental brushes to clean underneath wires and brackets. These look like small bristle brushes attached to a flexible rigid wire core with a finger handle. Braces-wearers have found interdental brushes to be much easier to clean their teeth and braces with, compared to a traditional toothbrush and flossing.
It is important to ensure that your interdental brushes are checked regularly for damage to the bristles, much like your regular toothbrush. This ensures that the bristles are not dislodged in your gum tissue, which can lead to serious gum problems.
Examples of interdental brushes are Piksters and Tepe brushes, which you can find at your local supermarket. An experienced dentist in Blackburn can educate you in using interdental brushes upon applying a set of braces.
Rinsing Your Mouth
Rinsing your mouth after brushing your teeth with an antiseptic dental mouthwash is a good practice. In addition, rinsing your braces with a dental mouthwash will help clean them and kill any remaining bacteria and can help to relieve sores caused by the metal wires and brackets. If you are unable to brush your teeth, it is also recommended that you thoroughly rinse your mouth with water after each meal.
Flossing Your Teeth With Braces
Flossing allows you to clear out plaque from the tiny cracks between your teeth and under the gum line, an area that you’re unlikely to reach with a toothbrush alone. You can only get forty per cent of the surface area of your teeth via flossing, so it’s a critical component of any good dental hygiene routine.
Follow the steps below for a proper flossing technique:
- 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 challenging to manipulate regular floss beneath the wires of braces, so you might need to purchase stiffer floss. One example of this is “super floss”, with the additional rigidity of this floss enabling you to thread it between the wires of your braces easily.
Foods To Avoid While Wearing Braces
You should avoid hard, sticky, crunchy, or sugary foods until your braces are removed.
- Hard foods such as apples, nuts, and hard rolls/bread. These can be too tough to chew with braces. However, you may be able to comfortably eat these foods if you cut them up into tiny pieces. Still, it’s always best to be cautious; if you believe the food is too hard, it probably is.
- Sticky foods such as caramel, toffee, lollies, and chewing gum. These foods can 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 such as popcorn, chips, and toast. You can dislodge cemented brackets or buttons if you bite down on these foods too hard.
- Sugary food and drinks such as ice cream and soft drinks will stain the hard-to-reach enamel under your braces, causing discolouration when you remove them. They can also lead to cavities between your teeth and braces if good dental hygiene isn’t maintained.
Visiting Your Dentist
It is good practice for those with braces to visit your dentist or orthodontist for a professional clean every six months. Your dentist will check on your teeth and braces and also clean them.
If you’re looking for a trusted dentist to give you further guidance on how to best look after your teeth with braces, get in touch with Blackburn Family Dental Care today. Our friendly, highly-skilled practitioners offer both general and cosmetic dentistry to meet the needs of our patients.