5 Oral Hygiene Tips for Patients in Braces

No one wants to look in the mirror and see food caught in their teeth. It can be embarrassing. But keeping food from getting stuck in your teeth isn’t just about maintaining appearances. A clean mouth means a healthy mouth. With proper oral hygiene, you’ll avoid the build up of plaque, discoloration, gingivitis and other problems.

When you first get braces, you’ll find that cleaning your mouth is harder because the brackets and wires make access to trapped food more difficult, especially near the gum line. At the same time, it’s even more important than ever to keep up with cleaning when you’re in braces. If you don’t, your treatment time could take longer. In a worst-case scenario, a patient can develop gum disease. When this happens, the braces must come off temporarily to let gums heal and their condition improve. Only then can the braces be put back on and treatment resume.

Did that scare you enough? But there’s no need to be worried. It’s actually not all that hard to maintain dental hygiene when you’re in orthodontic treatment. Here are our tips to keep you on top of your game:

1. Eat right and avoid junk
There are foods that are good for your teeth’s enamel like cheese, milk, meat, and chicken, so eat these often. And eating lots of vegetables is always a good idea. The worst foods for your teeth are those high in sugar, so avoid sugary drinks and candy. Especially stay away from hard or chewy candy that can crack your brackets or get stuck in them.

2. Brush often
Aim to brush your teeth four times a day, after each meal and just before bed. With braces, however, you must develop some new techniques. First brush your brackets straight on, then from an upper angle and then again from a lower angle. You can buy a tool called a proxa brush with bristles in a cone shape to help you target brushing in hard-to-reach areas.

3. Floss daily
You won’t be able to use normal floss when your teeth are in braces, but drugstores sell floss threaders with a stiffened end. You can push the end underneath the wire so you can reach your gumline.

4. Use a rinse
Even with dedicated brushing and flossing, you are unlikely to clean every small area where food and biofilm can hide. So make a habit of swishing at night with a fluoride rinse.

5. Keep your appointments
Naturally, you’ll do this anyway, but in addition to checking on the progress of your treatment, we can check for any signs of incipient gum disease. And while you’re in the chair, you can discuss any issues you might be having with keeping your braces clean, and we can recommend or prescribe extra products or rinses.

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