Undergoing orthodontic treatment can be a trying time for maintaining good dental hygiene, but the end result makes it all worth it. Creating a straight, attractive smile that one can be proud of is the goal of most orthodontic treatment. However, orthodontic treatment can disrupt your daily routine. The orthodontic brackets and wires, and chewy, sticky foods can make dental hygiene more challenging and difficult. Poor hygiene, while wearing braces, can put your teeth and gums at risk for periodontal disease and decay. Luckily, there are ways to maintain great hygiene even with orthodontic brackets and wires attached to your teeth.
Tooth Decay Prevention Tips
Even without braces, maintaining dental hygiene can be very challenging. The main task in any dental hygiene program is to control the buildup of dental plaque and tartar. This dental plaque contains oral bacteria that releases acid that can destroy the out layers (enamel) of your tooth. Tartar is an irritant that can cause swollen or receded gums, and bone loss. The following are some key tips to help keep your teeth and gums in top shape while wearing orthodontic braces (or even without them!):
Flossing And Brushing Tips – To floss teeth if you have braces, feed the end of the floss threader or all in one floss through the space between the main arch wire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the arch wire. Brush teeth by using a rotary toothbrush or a regular soft toothbrush. Brush down from the top and then up from the bottom on each tooth with braces. Next, brush your teeth with a proxabrush or “Christmas tree” brush. This brush is specially designed for cleaning between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Use several strokes in each direction before moving on to the next space between two braces. A Waterpik with Periogen and purple listerine works very well to flush out plaque, tartar, and stain to keep your brackets and elastics clean. Continue with cleaning until all metal surfaces shine and there is no plaque left behind.
Dental hygiene appointments should occur more frequently (every 3-4 months). Fluoride treatments and dental sealants are also helpful to keep teeth strong and decay free.
Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces – While going through orthodontic treatment there are several types of foods that shouldn’t be eaten. It helps if the pieces are smaller so they can be easily chewed and lessen risk of breaking any brackets or wires. Items and habits that should be avoided include:
-Hard or difficult to bite foods. These include apples, bagels, pizza crust, beef jerky.
-Chewy and sticky foods. This includes taffy, bubble gum, or caramels.
-Corn on the cob. Remove the kernels and eat them individually vs biting them off the cob.
-Hard pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and carrots.
-Do not chew ice, fingernails, or pencils.
-Do not open things (bottles, chip bags, etc.) with your teeth.
The last thing anyone wants, is to complete orthodontic treatment with beautifully straight teeth loaded with cavities and bleeding gums. Luckily, with diligent work in maintaining dental hygiene tooth issues can be prevented. This should also include regular dental visits for examinations and professional cleanings.