It’s not unusual for orthodontic patients to have a bit of a complicated relationship with their braces. They may not relish wearing them, but they know the process will all be worth it once their beautiful new smile is revealed. Does this sound like you? If so, don’t let your mixed feelings get in the way of taking care of your smile while we straighten it! Braces are a big investment of your time and your finances. While the team here at Johnson Family Orthodontics does most of the hard work, you still have an important role to play in how successful your treatment is. A big part of that is maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine, so let’s look at how you can make that happen!
But first…why is dental hygiene so important during orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic patient or not, we should all strive for healthy teeth and gums! It’s essential if you’re in braces, though. Why? The brackets, wires, and bands create a network of nooks and crannies that can become a perfect breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t stay on top of your oral hygiene. This increases your risk of developing cavities or tooth decay, which can impact the progress you’re making and possibly increase the total treatment time.
Brushing and flossing as directed will help keep your teeth and your braces in good shape, ensuring your treatment plan stays on track. There won’t be any starts and stops due to unexpected dental work, and good dental hygiene will also prevent discoloration from a build-up of plaque and bacteria. A healthy mouth allows Dr. Johnson to achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time possible! Here are some of our top tips for taking care of your smile while wearing braces.
Make sure you’re brushing frequently enough
Plaque can form on your teeth and start causing problems within 48 hours, so you don’t want to give it the chance to get comfortable! As a braces patient, you should be brushing once in the morning, again after every meal, and once more before bed. If you can’t brush right away after eating, try rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water instead. This will help flush out any lingering food debris. Getting into all the spaces braces create can be tricky! Dental tools like interdental brushes simplify the process and can make your technique more effective. Brush for at least two minutes each time for the best results.
Use the right techniques for brushing and flossing
In the early days after your braces are placed, your usual brushing technique will require a little refinement. It takes some time to work out how to navigate around the brackets and wires to ensure your teeth are squeaky clean. These basic recommendations can help you make the most of your brushing, no matter how long you’ve had your braces!
- Hold the toothbrush against the front sides of your teeth. Move the toothbrush in small circular motions. Try to follow the regular curve of the gums and teeth as you go from tooth to tooth.
- Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly. Make sure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
- Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth, the back sides of the teeth, and behind the molars. Don’t forget to brush the roof of your mouth and tongue before rinsing!
- To properly clean the brackets, angle the brush head against them, and remember to brush thoroughly under the wires as well.
Flossing is another critical component of your oral hygiene routine. During treatment, you’ll have to floss between your teeth and under the archwire of your braces. Floss threaders are a great way to simplify this process! This reusable tool has a stiff end that allows you to floss between the brackets and under the archwire more easily. To ensure you’re flossing your teeth correctly, take the following steps for a test drive.
- Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire, above the space between the two teeth. Insert the floss halfway through, then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, you’ll be able to hear a slight squeaking sound.
- Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
- Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.
Be patient! It may take you a while to get through this process initially, but you’ll get the hang of it before long. You may want to try a water flosser when you’re done to get your teeth and gums extra clean!
Add mouthwash to the mix
You may be tempted to try it when you’re running short on time or just feel like falling into bed, but mouthwash shouldn’t replace your regular dental hygiene routine. However, it can be a valuable tool for boosting your oral health! Mouthwash can get into the areas of your mouth that a toothbrush and floss may not be able to reach, like the gums and other soft tissues. Do you struggle with gingivitis, periodontal disease, or a chronically dry mouth? Mouthwash may just be your new best friend!
You’ll want to choose a mouthwash based on your specific needs. Cosmetic rinses can temporarily improve your breath and create a pleasant taste in your mouth, but they won’t kill the bacteria that cause bad breath in the first place. Therapeutic mouthwashes, on the other hand, do impact oral bacteria and introduce healthy nutrients into the mouth. Adding mouthwash into your daily routine will give you fresher breath and make your brushing and flossing more effective. It also offers greater plaque prevention and a reduced risk of cavities. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask us about mouthwashes designed for use with braces at your next appointment!
Give your smile the care it deserves with Johnson Family Orthodontics
There’s a link between oral health and achieving a straighter smile. When you take good care of your mouth, it makes it easier for us to improve your bite!
If you have any questions or concerns about dental hygiene during treatment, our expert team is always happy to help. For more tips on maintaining a happy and healthy smile, get in touch to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with our Salem office!