Maintaining Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

November 15, 2023

Take a look at your metal braces and wires in the mirror. Do you spot lingering food particles or plaque on your braces or between your teeth? Your risk of tooth decay and gum disease could increase if you’re not prioritizing your oral hygiene.

Use these tips to maintain healthy teeth and gums while receiving orthodontic treatment. With these tips, you can straighten your teeth while avoiding tooth decay and unsightly stains. Get ready to show off your straight teeth and healthy smile today!

Prioritize Oral Hygiene

Be honest with yourself: are you brushing your teeth twice a day? If not, you’re giving bacteria and food particles time to hide. When you neglect to brush your teeth, saliva, food, and bacteria can create plaque.

Plaque is the tacky, clear substance that can cling onto and between your teeth. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar and release destructive acids.

You could develop tooth decay or an oral disease. Tooth decay is the most common health condition worldwide. About two billion people suffer from permanent teeth cavities.

Brushing your teeth twice a day will remove acid, bacteria, and food particles from tooth surfaces. Otherwise, you’ll leave your teeth vulnerable to white spots, tooth decay, and gum disease.

You could continue struggling with these issues even when you no longer wear braces. Prioritizing your oral health now can help you avoid complications (and expensive treatments) later.

If you wear braces, consider brushing after every meal. You can remove bacteria and food particles before plaque gets the chance to form.

Brushing Technique

You may need to replace your toothbrush more often during your orthodontic treatment. Replace your brush right away if the bristles look worn down. Otherwise, replace it every three months.

When brushing, use a fluoride toothpaste and a small, soft brush. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle against your gums.

Brush with gentle, circular strokes along the gumline. Brush each tooth for about 10 seconds.

Make sure to be gentle. Press the brush firmly enough that the bristles reach between our wire and tooth. Don’t forget to brush around each bracket and wire (including under the wires).

Use a back-and-forth motion when brushing chewing surfaces. Get the inside and outside surface of each tooth.

Don’t forget to replace your elastics when you’re done! Always remove your elastics before brushing.

Get an Interdental Brush

An interdental brush is smaller, which will make it easier for you to reach spaces between your teeth and braces. You can use an interdental brush to clean your metal wires and brackets.

When it’s time to brush and floss your teeth, use the interdental brush first. The smaller brush will loosen and remove debris from our teeth, even when they’re obstructed.

When you’re not home, use an interproximal brush. These small brushes can slip between your teeth and braces. You can use one to remove food from your teeth after meals when you’re on the go.

If you’re still struggling to remove food particles from between your teeth and braces, use a water flosser. A water flosser will use a jet of water to remove stubborn residue. It can tackle hard-to-reach places.

Maintain Healthy Gums

After brushing your teeth, don’t forget to floss. Flossing your teeth can remove food particles and plaque from hard-to-reach areas.

Consider using a floss threader. They’re available in most pharmacies and grocery stores. Floss after every meal for healthy gums.

Neglecting to floss could increase your risk of gingivitis (gum disease). Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, caused by a bacterial infection. Gingivitis is a major cause of tooth loss and tooth decay in adults.

You could develop gingivitis if plaque extends below your gum line. Your gums could start separating from your teeth. If you experience symptoms, visit your dentist right away to begin treatment.

Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash will provide your teeth with an extra layer of protection while you receive orthodontic treatment. It can help clean places and kill bacteria your toothbrush and floss can’t reach. Mouthwash also remineralizes your teeth.

Rinse your mouth before brushing your teeth. Afterward, use a high-quality mouthwash to remove lingering bacteria.

Using mouthwash can help protect your teeth from cavities and gums from gingivitis. Continue using mouthwash after treatment to maintain oral health.

Adjust Your Diet

Certain foods can break, bend, or loosen your wires and brackets. Talk to your orthodontist about adjustments you’ll need to make to your diet and foods and drinks to avoid.

For example, they may recommend you avoid hard foods like nuts, apples, and carrots. Consider chopping fruits and vegetables into smaller pieces. Smaller bites will reduce the stress placed on your braces.

You should also avoid sticky foods, including fruit bars, muesli, toffees, and caramels. These foods could get stuck within your braces.

Don’t Skip Appointments

Schedule routine check-ups with your orthodontist. They’ll use these appointments to assess your progress. If necessary, they can complete braces maintenance.

Talk to your SouthShore orthodontist before beginning treatment. They’ll lay out a treatment timeline based on your orthodontic needs. Their timeline will determine how often you need to return for braces maintenance and check-ups.

Schedule appointments with your general dentist every six months. Routine dental cleanings will reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Your dentist can spot issues with your smile before complications develop.

Healthy Smiles During Orthodontic Treatment

Prioritizing your oral hygiene is essential while you receive orthodontic treatment. Otherwise, trapped plaque and food particles can increase your risk of tooth decay. Use these tips to maintain a healthy smile while wearing braces.

Don’t neglect your braces maintenance! The team at SouthShore Orthodontics strives to provide the best orthodontic care in the greater Tampa Bay area.

We’re focused on making every patient’s orthodontic treatment enjoyable. Contact us today for help maintaining your oral health during and after treatment!