To help prevent damage to your teeth, gums and braces, it's essential to take good care of your braces. Maintaining diligent oral hygiene practices can also help ensure your orthodontic goes smoothly and according to plan, reducing the risk of delays.
There are all sorts of tiny crevices and spaces in your braces that will need to be carefully cleaned to prevent bacteria and plaque from gaining a foothold and accumulating in your mouth. Follow the steps below to brush and floss effectively with braces.
Prepare to brush.Remove elastics and any other removable components from your braces.
Brush your braces.Brush around the pins and wires of your braces while holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Move from the top of each wire to the bottom, and move methodically from tooth to tooth to try and brush away all plaque and debris.
Brush your teeth. Brush each tooth, one at a time, again following a 45-degree angle on the gum line while applying gentle pressure and brushing in a circular motion. Remain for about 10 seconds on each tooth, brushing all the outer and inner tooth surfaces of each one. You may choose to use an electric toothbrush with a round, rotating head to help make this process easier.
Floss daily. Put the floss between your teeth and the main wire. While gently pressing the floss between the first two teeth, slide it up and down along the side of one tooth, then the other. Remove the floss gently, unthreading it from behind the wire, then repeat the process between the next pair of teeth.
Rinse and check your teeth.Once you've finished brushing and flossing, rinse with water or mouthwash thoroughly and check your teeth and braces in the mirror to confirm you haven't missed anything.
You'll probably need to make a few dietary adjustments to protect your braces. The general rule of thumb is that any soft, non-sticky foods are safe to eat with braces, while hard, chewy or crunchy foods should be avoided. Here are some examples:
Foods you can eat with braces:
- Dairy – yogurt, soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Eggs – cooked however you like
- Bread & Grains – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins, pasta, rice
- Meats/poultry – tender cooked meats, meatballs, lunch meats, etc.
- Vegetables – mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, beans
- Fruit – soft fruits, hard fruits cut into small pieces, applesauce, fruit juice, smoothies, berries
- Treats – ice cream, milkshakes, Jell-O, plain soft chocolates, peanut butter cups, brownies, soft cookies.
Foods to avoid with braces:
- Chewy foods – bagels, licorice, pizza crust, French bread
- Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, ice, hard candies, thick pretzels
- Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum, gummy candies
- Hard foods – nuts, uncooked carrots, toffee
- Foods that require biting into – apples, corn on the cob, carrots, ribs and chicken wings
Regular Orthodontic Appointments
During your braces treatment, you should attend regular appointments with your orthodontist to have the braces tightened and adjusted. This will ensure that the braces continue to do their job properly. It also gives your orthodontist an opportunity to evaluate your progress and ensure there are no problems.
Regular Dental Appointments
You also should continue visiting your regular dentist for cleanings and checkups, just like you usually do. Professional cleanings and checkups are essential for oral health because even the most rigorous brushing and flossing routine might not remove hardened tartar. In addition, your dentist will be able to monitor your oral health, and ensure there are no cavities or other problems developing.