Dental braces are a great way to get that attractive smile you’ve always dreamed of. Gap between teeth, crooked teeth, overlapping teeth – no matter what the dental problem is, there’s nothing that braces or other orthodontic treatments can’t fix. However, getting teeth braces is a huge responsibility because braces make your teeth prone to dental problems. And you can get those straight, pearly whites only when you take good care of your teeth. Let’s understand why.
Braces and Oral Hygiene
Braces consist of wires and brackets bonded to your teeth. When you eat with braces on, the minute food particles get stuck within the pockets created between your teeth, within the brackets, and behind the wires. And if these food particles are not cleaned immediately, they may cause plaque buildup leading to serious dental issues. And this is the reason oral hygiene with braces should be your priority if you want a healthy, beautiful smile.
Dental Issues Due to Poor Oral Hygiene with Braces
Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that causes redness, swelling, and irritation in gums around the base of teeth. It is caused when plaque formed on your teeth stays on and hardens to form tartar. Gingivitis should be treated seriously since it inflames the gums and causes bad breath.
When Gingivitis gets worsened, it leads to Periodontitis, a serious infection that causes pain, swelling, and bleeding in the gums. Periodontitis can lead to gaps between the teeth which accumulate bacteria and plaque over a period of time. If the infection isn’t treated early it can lead to receding gums and tooth loss.
Decalcification is known as demineralization, i.e. dissipation of minerals such as calcium and phosphorous from the surface of teeth. It is the result of plaque sticking to your teeth for a long time which turns into acid and causes white spots on the teeth surface. Decalcification causes the teeth to lose their strength which may lead to tooth loss in the long run.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene Despite Braces
Braces can make maintaining oral hygiene slightly difficult since food can easily get trapped in braces. But with a few important tips, you will be able to get through. And once you grow habitual of taking care of your teeth without fail, you will find oral care simpler.
Here’s how you can maintain good oral health:
Clean Your Teeth Regularly
Follow these steps to clean your teeth effectively after every meal:
- Use a toothbrush with thin bristles to completely clean food particles stuck in between dental braces. It will clean away the debris in between brackets.
- Make sure you hold the brush at a 45-degree angle. Brushing top to bottom will push the debris away from gums and teeth. Be sure to clean the gum line gently.
- After brushing teeth, use floss to make sure nothing stays stuck between teeth. If you can’t floss two times a day, then do it once before going to bed.
- Finally, rinse your mouth and check in the mirror to be sure that there are no food remains.
Use Special Dental Tools
Regular toothbrush and floss may not do the job well enough if you have overlapping teeth and you also wear braces. Hence, you may want to take help of special dental tools such as:
- Interdental/Interproximal Brush: Interdental brushes are useful because they get between brackets and under the wires to clean the minute food particles stuck in nooks and corners.
- Floss Threader: With this tool, you can get the floss in between your teeth despite wearing braces. It is designed to work as a needle and a thread and reaches even the areas that may be hard to reach.
Be Careful of What You Eat
Though braces are pretty sturdy, certain foods can cause them damage by bending wires or getting stuck between brackets. Here are a few food items you must avoid eating during your orthodontic treatment:
- Hard and sticky candy
- Corn chips
- Raw vegetables
- Hard rolls
Here are a few recommended food items you should consume if you wear braces:
- Soft fruits like bananas, grapes, strawberry, etc.
- Mashed potatoes
- Hull-less popcorn
Basically, you must avoid any food that is hard enough to damage your braces and add as many soft foods as possible to your diet. If you accidentally break your braces, the cost of replacing them would create an unnecessary expense.
Visit Your Orthodontist Regularly
No matter how careful you are about your teeth and braces, dental problems may still appear. And even if they don’t, it’s better to be sure that
your teeth and braces are in perfect condition. So, fix frequent appointments with your orthodontist for routine checkups to spot any signs of gum disease or cavity. Your dentist may also monitor your oral care method and suggest changes accordingly.
All these tips are great when it comes to maintaining oral health with braces but only if you follow them diligently. Make oral health your priority and you will get a smile that you can flaunt.
Dr. Satish Pai is an orthodontist and Ivy League trained dentist who has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feels great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Brite Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with this family.