Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces. The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
How to Brush?
Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded bristle toothbrush that’s in good condition. Because braces wear out a toothbrush quickly, replace your brush as soon as it shows signs of wear.
Brush around all the parts of your braces and every surface of your teeth — fronts, sides and backs. Be sure to brush your tongue and roof of the mouth.
Brush above and below the braces in small circular motions
Make sure the toothbrush reaches the inside and biting surfaces of all teeth. Also brushing the palate and the tongue will complete the cleaning of your mouth and help prevent development of bad breath
A good way to tell if you’re brushing correctly is if your braces look clean and shiny and you can see the edges of the brackets clearly;
Brush your gums gently and thoroughly.
Rinse thoroughly after brushing.
Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless.> Look closely in a well-light mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact the orthodontist’s office to see if it needs to be checked out and if time needs to be scheduled to make a repair.
How to Floss?
Floss every night before you go to bed. That way, you won’t feel rushed.
When flossing with braces on, it might be necessary to use what’s called a floss threader. This reusable tool allows you to get dental floss underneath your archwire easily.
Make sure you clean carefully along and under the gumlines.
Flossing with braces on may seem like a difficult process, but it’s very important. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot faster.
Floss threader can help to insert floss behind archwire
Other Hygiene Helpers
Your orthodontist or dentist may recommend one or more of these aids to help keep your teeth clean:
INTERPROXIMAL BRUSH – This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
PRESCRIPTION FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE OR FLUORIDE RINSE – Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by your orthodontist. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
POWER TOOTHBRUSH OR WATER IRRIGATOR – These devices are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
The Problems That Poor Oral Hygiene Can Cause
If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
Over time, the build-up of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if it’s ignored it can get worse. Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding, or swollen and puffy gums. Carefully follow your orthodontist’s directions.