Oral Hygiene

Introduction

Whether you are still wearing braces or have already finished your orthodontic treatment, it is always important to practice good and healthy oral hygiene. Beyond the normal practices of brushing and flossing, braces require a few other simple steps to ensure that your teeth remain healthy during your treatment.

Because braces, wires, bands, retainers, and other oral appliances can easily trap food in your mouth,  it can become increasingly difficult to simply brush or floss away the spread of plaque. The best way to avoid plaque build up is with brushing after each meal and flossing once a day. If proper oral hygiene is not maintained, patients can be susceptible to plaque build up, tooth decay, and gum disease.

The following steps are great hygiene practices, not just for patients receiving orthodontic treatment, but for all those who want to ensure they have a healthy, beautiful smile for years to come. Although these are all great steps to ensuring good hygiene, Dr. Pattison and his staff might recommend other methods and procedures during your treatment.

Brushing

When brushing your teeth, begin with the outside of your teeth and brush in small circular rotations with the brush at a straight angle. Next, try to clean the area between the gums and the braces by angling the head of the toothbrush. Also, be sure to clean the chewing surface of the teeth, as well as the inside of the teeth.

Flossing

Remember to floss daily, and with the help of a floss threader, flossing with braces is an easy task. First, pull the floss through the floss threader. You can then use the floss threader to pull the floss through underneath the archwire of your braces. Next, pull the floss gently up and down between the teeth and underneath the gums.

Rinsing

When you are finished brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth carefully with water or an antiseptic dental rinse.

An antiseptic dental rinse can help minor gum inflammations and irritations from orthodontic appliances. Also used to clean sores, minor wounds and other mouth and gum irritations, this mouth rinse removes debris, enabling natural healing to occur.

Interdental

An interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) is another aid you might find useful in keeping your teeth, braces, and gums clean and healthy. It can be used to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces. Use this device slowly and carefully, so you do not damage your braces.

Retainer

During the retention phase, it is important to brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth, as they accumulate food particles and plaque.

You should soak your appliance once a day in a glass of room-temperature tap water with a denture-cleaning tablet, such as Polident or Efferdent. This will help prevent plaque build-up and oral infections and will keep your appliance tasting better. Do not use hot water, as it can distort the appliance.

Food to Avoid

Your teeth may be a little sore for the first week in braces, so we recommend sticking to a soft food diet until your discomfort subsides. While in braces, you can still eat just about anything, although there are a few exceptions.

You should avoid hard foods, such as ice and pizza crust, as well as sticky foods, including licorice and caramels. These foods can damage wires and brackets. It is also important to minimize foods high in sugar content, like ice cream and cookies, and reduce sugary drinks to once a day.