Healthy Teeth With Braces
Braces and the gift of straight, healthy teeth are the best present you can ever receive or give to yourself. When you are wearing braces it is very important to take good care of your teeth and spend extra time cleaning them.
If you maintain a proper oral hygiene routine, that means brushing and flossing daily, you can keep your teeth healthy, good looking and avoid cavities.
Whether you choose clear aligners, lingual, clear or traditional braces, there are other additional ways you can keep your teeth healthy while you are in Orthodontic treatment.
Dr. V and the American Dental Association recommend that you see your General Dentist every 3 months, or at least twice a year for regular check-ups and cleanings. Dr. V recommends that you use a mouth rinse that has fluoride but is alcohol free and to use 100 % Xylitol mints 6 to 10 times a day. Dr. V also recommends that you use water irrigation, tooth picks, and electric toothbrushes.
How to Brush
Brushing with braces is much like brushing without braces, but it’s going to take a little more time to get all the surfaces.• Take your time and be gentle. •
• Brush every surface of both your bracket and your tooth. •
• Use a proxy brush to clean in between your brackets, wires and teeth. •
It’s extremely important to brush after meals to make sure food particles aren’t left behind. Remember that there are many appliances designed just to make brushing with braces easier. Ask Dr. V which she would recommend, and how you can make braces brushing an easy part of your day.
Once teeth are straightened by braces, it is easier to clean your teeth. But while wearing braces, plaque and food particles have additional places to accumulate, hide and become trapped. If plaque stays on your teeth for too long, you may notice decalcification or white spots on your teeth. You can prevent decalcification by brushing and flossing daily. You can use an Oral B™ Electric Toothbrush with an Ortho brush head that’s specially designed to gently clean around braces.
Dr. V recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, at least twice daily. That means each quadrant of your mouth gets 30 seconds. As you’re brushing, make sure to clean all surfaces of the tooth and bracket. Take your time and be gentle. Oral-B™ Electric Toothbrushes have a built-in timer that pulses every 30 seconds to let you know when to switch areas of the mouth.
Some consider using a WaterPik™, whether in orthodontic treatment or not, to flush out food between teeth. The WaterPik™ is sometimes considered simpler and faster to use than dental floss, but the question is does it work as well to keep teeth clean rather than regular flossing? While using a WaterPik™ can seem much easier to use in the mouth than dental floss, it actually doesn’t do the job as well. The water can’t penetrate as well between teeth that tightly fit together or are crowded, which prevents proper removal of food and plaque which causes gum disease and decay.
So, the answer to the question… Is a Waterpik™ as effective in removing food and particles from between teeth and around the gum line as good as dental flossing? The answer is no. However, it is a great way to remove large pieces of food from between the teeth, especially while wearing braces. At Valderrama Orthodontics, we want to stress the importance of both brushing and flossing during treatment to maintain good dental health. If you want to use a Waterpik™, that’s great, just don’t use it as a substitute for flossing.
Flossing With Braces
Many children and teens (and some adults) don’t know how to floss with braces. Or they think that they can’t floss at all if they have braces. But that’s not the case. In fact, daily flossing is especially important during the time that you wear braces because you’re more likely to have food trapped in the braces, which could increase your risk of a cavity.
One of the ways of getting the floss under the wire is with a floss threader. A floss threader is a stiff plastic that has a loop where the floss is placed through. Using a floss threader is somewhat like threading a needle: You pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader under the archwire. Now grasp the floss on each end and making a “C” shape around the tooth slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, and all the way under the gums, until you hear a squeaky sound. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss for the next area.
The other way is by using Superfloss. Superfloss is a pre-cut floss which has a floss threader on one end, a fuzzy center and regular floss on the other end. Thread the floss under the archwire with the stiff end and floss as above. Use the fuzzy center if you have spaces in your teeth.
Please make sure you never pull on your archwire with the floss.
Although flossing with braces is tricky, you can get the hang of it with practice.
Parents: Please help floss for younger children who lack the coordination to thread the floss under the wire of their braces.