Now that you’ve taken the plunge and gotten yourself some orthodontic treatment, whether that be traditional metal brackets, ceramic braces or clear aligners like Invisalign, it’s important to be sure and keep your teeth and new equipment sparkling clean! You’ll not only want to know how to maintain good oral health with ortho treatment, but you’ll also want to add a few elements to your cleaning ritual targeted toward your new tech.
We asked Dr. Rhoads to sit down with us and lay out a few tips for brushing your teeth with braces – he’s board-certified by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, so he really knows his stuff!
Don’t I Already Know How?
You might think, “I already know how to brush my teeth. What’s the big deal?”
While we here at Rhoads Orthodontics know you already take good care of your teeth, Dr. Rhoads insists that we keep you up to date on some of the challenges that come with your braces regarding your dental hygiene. One of those challenges is ensuring you keep your brackets clear of plaque.
The nitty-gritty on plaque.
Plaque forms continuously in the mouth via the interaction of sugary, starchy foods and the mouth’s natural bacteria. This rougher, calcified form of plaque can only be removed by a dental professional, and your braces just gave it a bunch of new nooks and crannies to hide in! While plaque is a relative constant in our lives, a good dental hygiene routine removes it before it morphs into its meaner and more persistent cousin, tartar.
But never fear! So long as you follow these simple tips, taking care of your teeth will be a cinch, with or without braces!
Six Steps to a Healthy Smile
Step #1: Stick to it!
Now more than ever, it’s vital that you never miss a brush! That means morning and night. We also recommend brushing after snacks, particularly if the snacks are of the offending sugary or starchy variety. (which all the best snacks tend to be!)
Step #2: Rinse it out!
Before you begin your brush, it’s a good idea to take a cup and rinse your mouth out with water. Be sure and swish! This is a great way to help loosen some of the food particles accumulated in some of the harder-to-reach areas of the back teeth, between your brackets, etc.
Step #3: 45 Degrees, Please!
The American Dental Association recommends you approach your brush sessions with a soft-bristled brush and a nonabrasive toothpaste at a 45-degree angle from the tooth and gum line. Brush gently but firmly, taking special care to interact with the spaces where plaque is likely to hang out – between the teeth and brackets, at the gum line, and in other out-of-the-way areas.
Step #4: Take Your Time!
While any brushing is better than no brushing, if you’re simply wetting your teeth and doing a cursory once over with the brush, you’re gonna have a bad time! Spending enough time with your brushing session is vital to clean out all the spaces where the offending plaque can take root! Returning to the ADA, we learn that we should spend at least two minutes brushing to ensure a good clean. However, as braces may make things more difficult at first, it’s also recommended to take a little extra time!
If you’re having trouble reaching between the brackets, you can use a proxabrush after your main brushing. The proxabrush is specially designed to fit between your teeth and the brackets, so you can be confident that you’ve taken care of any offending particulates that have managed to avoid your primary run.
Step #5: Floss is your friend!
Flossing is so often forgotten about, but it’s crucially important for maintaining oral hygiene, with or without braces! The ADA reports that as little as 10% of Americans floss daily. If you want your orthodontic care to go as well as possible, you should work hard to be part of that 10%!
We know flossing with braces has unique challenges, which is why a floss threader is a great tool to consider adding to your oral hygiene arsenal. It’s specially designed to help you floss with braces, and you can pick one up just about anywhere toothbrushes are sold.
Step #6: Rinse it out! (Again)
Now that you’ve finished up, it’s time to rinse your mouth with an excellent antibacterial mouthwash. Some brands even offer varieties aimed at braces users, although all that matters is its antibacterial. Dr. Rhoads can recommend one for you if you don’t already have a favorite.
Step #7: Hidden, bonus step!
Bonus round! Now that you’ve properly brushed (and flossed) and rinsed, it’s time to clean up. Be sure to reapply any removable orthodontic equipment if you have something like Invisalign or a retainer. Now give yourself a big ole smile! You’ve done what it takes to keep your teeth and braces in great shape! Woo-Hoo!
Don’t Be A Stranger!
Now that you’ve gotten some tips for keeping your teeth sparkling in your braces, be sure and make your regularly-scheduled appointments! We’re grateful you’ve taken the time to learn more about maintaining good health with orthodontic treatment, and now it’s time to learn why we’re Cranberry Township’s favorite orthodontic specialists!
Whether you’re new to the practice or have been with us for years, we can’t wait to see you again! Thanks for reading!