Doing Your Part
To get the healthy and beautiful smile your want, you'll need to work as a team with your family dentist, and Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Davis, or Dr. Steitz.
You play an essential part. Making sure your treatment is successful is up to you.
Most importantly, you must maintain good dental hygiene and keep your teeth clean while wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it.
It will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment.
By brushing and flossing regularly, you'll keep your teeth and gums at their best and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest smile possible.
Brushing Your Teeth
You’ll probably notice very quickly that it’s much harder to keep your teeth clean when you’re wearing braces. Food can easily get caught in the brackets and between your teeth.
Brushing after meals and flossing will help prevent plaque from forming and should become part of your daily schedule.
If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it can leave a permanent white scar on the surface. A waterpik or an electric toothbrush can be a useful addition, however, please continue to see your dentist at least every 6 months for regular dental cleanings.
How to Brush
During your braces treatment, you will need to relearn the basics of brushing your teeth. Relearning this everyday task will teach you to pay attention to the cracks and crevices not only between teeth but around brackets and wires.
Keep these tips in mind when brushing your teeth with braces:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush that’s in good condition. Because braces wear out a toothbrush quickly, replace your brush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
- Brush around all the parts of your braces and every surface of your teeth — fronts, sides and backs. Be sure to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. A good way to tell if you’re brushing correctly is if your braces look clean and shiny, and you can clearly see the edges of the brackets.
- Brush your gums gently and thoroughly.
- Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
- Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
Flossing with braces takes a few minutes to master, but the effort is well worth it. The first step to flossing is getting the floss under the wire that connects the braces together.
A floss threader will help you get the dental floss underneath your archwires. Dental floss with a stiff end is also available. It’s pre-cut and is very easy to insert underneath archwires.
Once the floss is under the archwire, it can be wrapped around the tooth on one side. The floss is then pushed up toward the gum line and then pulled down toward the wire. This should be repeated four to five times to ensure all plaque is removed.
Be careful not to put too much pressure on the wire as you pull down. Then wrap the floss around the neighboring tooth. Once both teeth are done, the floss is pulled out, and the process repeated for the next two teeth.
Other Hygiene Helpers
In addition to the regular dental hygiene tools we are familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products we can recommend that make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Goldberg & Dr. Davis. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Power Toothbrush or Waterpik: These devices, such as the Oral-B Professional Series toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
The Importance of Dental Health
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the build-up of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the build-up of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis. Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums.
Avoid these problems by carefully following the hygiene directions you receive from our team and Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Davis or Dr. Steitz.
To Help Maintain Your Dental Health
- Achieve a balanced diet. This can be achieved by eating a variety of foods, preferably from each of the five major food groups: breads, cereals and other grain products; fruits; vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; milk, cheese and yogurt.
- Limit the number of snacks that you eat. If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit. Each time that you eat foods that contain sugars or starches brush your teeth.
- Brush after meals and before bedtime with fluoride toothpaste. Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners.
- Maintain your regularly scheduled check-ups with your dentist.