Oral Hygiene for Orthodontic Patients

Brushing and flossing are very important dental hygiene practices for people without braces. Brushing, flossing, and dental hygiene become a more important activity for those going through orthodontic treatment.

Braces tend to trap food easily and this contributes to the formation of plaque. If plaque is not carefully removed from teeth and from around the braces then the patients run the risk of developing tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath.

Plaque is made of debris, food particles, and bacteria of all sorts. This bacteria feed on sugars and produces acids in your mouth. The bacteria will irritate your gums, erode the enamel on your teeth, and it will also contribute to halitosis or bad breath.

It is important that you remove plaque in your mouth as thoroughly and as often as possible. When your braces come off or when your orthodontic treatment is finished, you will see that the teeth underneath are still healthy and strong. They will look good and you will have a newfound confidence with your smile. Here are some tips that can help you succeed in orthodontic treatment.

How should you brush your teeth?

You should use a soft-bristle toothbrush when you brush your teeth. Soft bristles are good because you can get into the nooks and crannies that are hard to reach. Soft bristles will also minimize the irritation of your gums. Avoid using hard bristled toothbrushes on your teeth.

Several companies manufacture special toothbrushes for people with braces. These are also known as bi-level brushes. They have longer bristles on the edges and shorter bristles in the middle. You should not have a hard time looking for these toothbrushes because most toothbrushes are made in this same manner already.

It is important that you look for a brush with soft bristles. Moreover, you should look for a toothbrush that is approved by the American Dental Association. The size of the brush and the shape of the handle are some personalpreferences that you can select yourself.

It is not necessary to have an electric toothbrush but if you have one already then you can use them on your braces anyway. You should be careful not to hit the plastic back of your toothbrush against your braces because this may result in damage. You should set your electric toothbrush to moderate settings so that it doesn’t break or loosen the braces.

You should brush your teeth four times a day. Brushing after meals is a good idea so that no food particles are left around your braces. You should brush your teeth slowly and carefully. It is very important to brush your braces and all the surfaces of the teeth. This includes all the inside and outside surfaces. You should pay attention to the spaces in between your braces and your gums. Spend around three to four minutes brushing your teeth or the length of one song on the radio. Make sure that you are brushing long enough so that you don’t miss out on anything.

How should you floss your teeth?

You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Some people think that it is impossible to floss with braces because of the many wires and brackets. Contrary to their belief, you should continue to floss. There are special flossing products made for braces in the market. They allow you to reach between the wires and into your gum line. There are floss threaders and special floss products out there. When your braces are first placed, you can ask someone at the orthodontist’s office to review your flossing techniques. Make sure that you are doing it right so that you don’t encounter any hygiene-related problems in the future.

How should you use fluoride on your teeth?

It does not matter what kind of fluoride toothpaste you use as long as it is approved by the American Dental Association. If you want to get more fluoride then you should try an over-the-counter fluoride rinse. These mouth rinses will provide you with enough fluoride to protect and strengthen your teeth throughout the orthodontic treatment. However, if you have a history of cavities or if you are at a high risk for tooth decay then you should consider getting more concentrated fluoride rinses. You may have to ask for a prescription from your orthodontist or dentist for higher concentration fluoride products.

You should consider getting an office treatment if you need more fluoride. This will usually come in the form of gel or in the form of varnish. If you have a history of tooth decay then your dentist will suggest that you get additional fluoride treatments.

What are some of the tools that can help you while you go through orthodontic treatment?

  • Rubber-tipped, end-tuft, or single-tuft toothbrushes – these are special toothbrushes that allow you to get into the nooks and crannies of the braces and in between your teeth. These end-tuft or single-tuft toothbrushes look similar to pipe cleaners
  • Oral irrigators – these are the instruments that shoot small streams of water into your teeth. The water is shot at high pressures so that food particles and debris can be washed away. Oral irrigators can be used as an aid in your oral hygiene practice but it should not take the place of brushing and flossing everyday. These oral irrigators should also be used on moderate settings so that they do not damage the braces
  • Anti-bacterial rinse – you can use these rinses if you are an adult but these rinses are not recommended for children because of their high alcohol content. There are alcohol-free rinses available for children but some of them are merely designed to freshen the breath and not to kill bacteria. Before buying an antibacterial rinse for your child, you must ask your dentist for a recommendation
  • Disclosing solutions or tablets – your dentist might use these solutions in order to spot plaque and bacteria on your teeth. These disclosing tables and solutions are made from a vegetable dye that highlights the plaque and debris in the mouth. When you see the dyed spots, you can easily remove them with your toothbrush. This will also help you identify any missed spots while you brush your teeth. You can remove the spots with your toothbrush right when you see them

How should you take care of your retainers?

If you are wearing retainers or other removable orthodontic retainers then you should make sure to clean them regularly because they spend a lot of time in your mouth. You wouldn’t want bacteria from the environment in your mouth, right?

You should brush your orthodontic retainers with your toothbrush everyday. Use toothpaste too. Cleansing is particularly important for the side that is in contact with the roof of your mouth and it is also important for parts that get into contact with your gums. Soak the dental retainers in cleaning solution afterwards. Some cleaning solutions in the market are actually advertised as dental cleaners. If you want to soak your retainer then ask advice from a dental professional for the best solutions to use. There are some cleaning solutions that can corrode wires or other metallic areas on your dental retainers.

You should not use hot water when you brush or soak your retainers. This may distort the plastic and make the dental retainers unusable. You should simply keep your retainers in the case that your orthodontist gave you when it is not in your mouth. Keep your retainers away from your pets. The last thing you want to see is your cat or dog chewing in your dental retainers.

How should you eat when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment?

When you wear braces, you have to think twice before putting food in your mouth. You should avoid foods that will increase your risk of getting cavities. You should also avoid food that will damage your brackets and your wires. Loose or broken appliances will prolong treatment time. You should avoid hard foods and sticky foods. Stay away from hard candy and caramel apples. These foods will damage your braces. This kind of food will also get stuck in the wires. When the food is stuck there, it will provide a lot of sugar for bacteria. This will cause acid production and eventually tooth decay. You should also avoid chewing on ice cubes because they can leave cuts on the teeth. Cut down on food that is rich in sugar because with more sugar, you are increasing your risk of tooth decay.

You should avoid hard and sticky foods, such as hard candy and caramel apples. These foods will damage your braces and get stuck in the wires. When food is lodged in your braces it will cause acid production and eventually tooth decay. Cut down on food that is rich in sugar because with more sugar you are increasing your risk of tooth decay. Never chew ice as it will not only damage your braces but may fracture teeth as well.

When should you visit your dentist?

It is VERY important that you visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. You should go to your dentist twice a year or as often as your dentist or orthodontist says so.