Considering how important our oral health is, we should all be happy to spend just four total minutes a day brushing and a few more flossing. For braces-wearers, it can take a little extra work thanks to all those added nooks and crannies where bacteria, plaque, and food particles can hide. Nobody wants to have the thrill of "Braces Removal Day" tainted by tooth decay and stained teeth. That’s why we’re here to offer our orthodontic patients a few dental hygiene tips!
1. Increase Brushing to After Every Meal and Before Bed
It is extremely easy for food to get stuck in braces brackets, and not only is that very distracting as you fruitlessly try to clean it out with your tongue, it can also contribute to tooth decay. A simple solution for both problems is to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste along to lunch, and maybe even pack a few interdental brushes for those extra tight spots. Don’t let bits of stuck food ruin your afternoon!
One tricky part about brushing at lunchtime is toothbrush storage. Avoid the temptation of sticking it in a baggie for the rest of the day, as that will lead to funky smells and lots of bacteria growing on the bristles. If you can, find a place to store your toothbrush where it can dry out after using it. You could install a toothbrush holder in your locker or make room for a toothbrush cup on your desk. At the very least, try to dry it out after using it.
2. Don’t Neglect Flossing, Even if It’s Tricky
There’s no doubt that braces make it harder to floss, but we urge our patients to persevere. Maybe you’ve figured out how to make regular floss work, but there are also floss threaders or water flossers to make the process easier so that you can keep your teeth and braces clean. Daily flossing is absolutely worth the effort. It’s essential if you want to avoid post-braces stains.
3. Avoid Whitening Products Until the Braces Come Off
Whitening products are often an excellent way to get the pearly white smiles we want — but not at the same time as orthodontic treatment. Using bleaching agents while the braces are on can result in discolored patches where the brackets were, and that is a tricky problem to fix later. Skip the whitening toothpaste and mouthwash and avoid whitening strips until "Braces Removal Day". We’re happy to offer recommendations for good whitening products after that!
You’re Not Alone in the Fight for Dental Health!
We want all of our patients to feel comfortable coming to us with questions about braces care and maintenance, especially questions about their dental health during treatment. You may give us a call or bring your questions with you to the next adjustment appointment. Meeting your smile goals is about more than just the position of your teeth, but also their overall health.
Together we can achieve the smile of your dreams!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Top image by Flickr user Dave Parker used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.