Congratulations! You have braces – you are taking the next step to improve the alignment of your smile (which can have an enormous impact on self-esteem) along with your overall health and well-being. Crooked teeth can cause speech difficulties, digestive issues, sleeping problems, and even headaches or muscle pain.
Having braces placed and maintaining them is a significant time investment that will have life-long benefits, the last thing you’d want is to have your braces removed only to have teeth in worse condition than when you had them put on. Braces, though super great for straightening your teeth, can actually increase chances for tooth decay of proper oral hygiene is ignored. In order to get the most out of your braces, be sure to maintain a clean mouth so that your smile transformation is worth the effort.
Cleaning your braces takes time, but the work is worth the effort. You only get one set of permanent teeth in your life, so taking care of them, especially with braces, is incredibly important. Here are some tips for keeping your traditional braces clean:
Clean Braces Mean Healthier Teeth
Staying on top of oral hygiene while you have braces is imperative for the corrective procedure to work. Traditional bracket and wire braces have numerous nooks and crannies that trap food. If left untouched, the food with rot and lead to bacteria that accelerates tooth decay and can rapidly cause bad breath, gum disease, decalcification and even infections.
Avoid Hard and Sugary Foods
Maintaining health teeth starts with eating healthy foods. Avoiding food that can break your wires or speed up tooth decay, such as candy or soda, is significant in keeping your teeth strong and healthy. Eating the wrong foods not only extends the cleaning time for your teeth but can also elongate the time required to wear braces due by increasing the potential to break your brackets or wires.
Foods to Avoid:
- Whole Apples
- Corn on the cob
- Hard Pretzels
- Hard or Sticky Candy
- Chewing Ice
- Sliced Apples
Acidic foods and drinks can also wreak havoc on your teeth. Less acidic foods are more ideal in maintaining healthy teeth. Overly acidic foods, including citrus fruits, juices, coffee, sodas and vinaigrettes, can cause serious damage to your teeth, so be sure to limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks. Additionally, avoiding meats that easily get stuck between your teeth reduces the chances for infections if you forget to floss.
Brush After Every Meal and Snack
With traditional wire braces, frequently brushing your teeth after each meal or snack can significantly impact the overall health of your teeth. Because braces require deeper cleaning on a more consistent basis, you should bring a “teeth cleaning kit” everywhere you go, if possible. An ideal kit would contain:
- Soft-Bristle Toothbrush
- Fluoridate Toothpaste
- Threading Floss
- Fluoride Mouthwash
When it isn’t possible to have the full array of teeth cleaning essentials with you, a travel toothbrush is the best tool to have. Be sure to gently brush each tooth above the wire and then below it, taking great care to ensure every tooth, bracket and wire gets cleaned thoroughly. Work your way around the entire mouth starting with the top teeth and then moving onto the bottom teeth. And, if you have it available, rinsing with fluoride mouthwash adds an extra preventative measure to reduce your chances for cavities.
Flossing is Imperative
Flossing is essential to keeping your mouth clean. Flossing helps get rid of the plaque and food that sneak their way in between teeth that your toothbrush often times can’t reach. Because braces often trap food in hard-to-reach places, not flossing puts you at a greater risk of developing cavities.
Because braces can make it tricky to use traditional floss, super floss is a great alternative. Super floss has a stiff straight end that allows you to thread it between your teeth, a spongy middle section (made to do the majority of the flossing) and a traditional floss end. Use the stiff end to thread the floss underneath the wire and between your teeth then gently slide the floss along both sides of the tooth and gums to remove any food or plaque. Take great care not to snap the floss against the brace wires. Once you have completed cleaned between those teeth, remove the floss and move onto the next teeth until you have cleaned all of your teeth.
Water floss (also known as a Waterpik) is another great option for flossing with braces. Once you get the hang of it, water floss is an easy and effective way to remove around plaque around braces. If you happen to be using water floss, be sure to use an orthodontic tip to ensure you are getting the most benefits out of your floss and protecting your braces at the same time.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Keep your braces clean by following your dentist’s directions. They are the experts and know what is best in keeping your teeth strong and healthy. They may even offer you free products like super floss or toothbrushes to keep your mouth in shape! Be sure to schedule regular tooth cleanings to catch any problems that may arise and to ensure that your cleaning habits are working.