Wire-based appliances we all know as braces, are used to correct misaligned and crowded teeth. With proper care, braces can deliver extraordinary results. Unfortunately, when patients don’t properly care for their braces, they can experience a range of serious but avoidable problems. Here’s your guide to brushing and flossing with braces.
Why Bushing and Flossing is Important
According to the Mayo Clinic, since braces create tiny spaces around teeth, they can trap food particles and promote plaque deposits.When a patient fails to remove food and plaque, they have an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease and permanent whitish stains on teeth.
What to Watch for With Your Teeth
During exams, dentists and orthodontists can get an idea of whether patients are doing a good job of keeping their teeth, gums and braces clean.
- Excellent: When patients maintain good, consistent brushing and flossing habits, teeth and gums look pink and healthy.
- Good: Even with good oral hygiene, gums can swell or turn red around one or two teeth. While not necessarily a sign of poor hygiene, swelling and redness should prompt patients to focus more on their brushing and flossing routine.
- Average: Average brushing and flossing will lead to more redness and swelling along the gumline.
- Below average: Below-average brushing can lead to swollen gums and white spots on teeth. It can also lead to cavities and cause your orthodontic treatment to last longer.
- Poor: Poor brushing and flossing will lead to cavities, swollen and red gums, and white spots on teeth. It’s important for patients to rededicate themselves to consistent oral hygiene habits using the proper tools and techniques.
How to Brush with Braces
- Ideally you should use an electric toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste (Plaque HD toothpaste is a great option because it reveals where plaque is on your teeth until it is completely brushed off).
- Remove bands, elastics and any removable parts of your orthodontic appliances.
- Carefully clean around pins and wires.
- Brush each wire, moving from top to bottom all the way around lower and upper teeth.
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, ensuring that each quadrant of your mouth gets about 30 seconds.
- Rinse thoroughly (with Phos-Flur rinse, if possible) and then check your teeth and braces in the mirror to ensure that there are no remaining food particles.
How to Floss with Braces
- Use waxed floss, since unwaxed floss is more likely to hang and shred in your braces.
- Carefully thread the wax floss under the main wire before passing it between two teeth.
- Move the floss up and down gently, being careful not to snap it.
- Remove the floss and start over on the next pair of teeth.
In addition to caring for their braces at home, it’s important for patients to maintain regular checkups with their local dentist and orthodontist. By working in tandem, these dental professionals ensure that your treatment is progressing appropriately while preserving your dental health now and well into the future.