Hygiene is more crucial when a patient has braces on, so brushing your teeth takes a little more time and effort. Plaque needs to be thoroughly removed from your teeth a couple of times each day and when you have braces, it’s even more important to remove plaque. With all the brackets and wires in your mouth it creates places for plaque to hide. Plaque is sticky and made up of food, saliva, and lots of bacteria. So when plaque attaches to your braces and teeth it causes cavities, swollen gums, bad breath, and permanent stain marks on your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but whenever possible try brushing after every meal. Floss is also very important as it helps get in between the teeth, which braces make it easier for food to get stuck. It is also good to keep seeing your dentist and hygienist regularly every six months to keep your mouth healthy.
An end-rounded bristle toothbrush works well for brushing braces, and your dentist might prescribe fluoride toothpaste to help you fight tooth decay even more. Brush gently but thoroughly. If your braces look clean, shiny, and you can see the edges of the brackets clearly, you’ve done a good job! Make sure to rinse your mouth after brushing with water, or with a mouth rinse. Having wires that connect your braces from tooth to tooth makes flossing a challenge, but it can be done. You just need to take your time being careful and get under the gum line. A floss threader is a tool that allows dental floss to get underneath the arch wires easily. There are a lot of other inter-dental cleaners that might be even easier for you to use.
One of the most common issues we see when braces come off is decalcification. Sometimes called white spots, decalcification are stains around your braces and they can be permanent. During treatment, your orthodontist will watch and warn you if white spots are developing, but you can prevent that from happening yourself. Your braces can’t damage your teeth but poor oral hygiene can and that’s why we stress the importance of brushing and flossing when you have braces.