Braces are orthodontic appliances that are used to straighten and align teeth. Braces can improve not only the appearance of a person’s smile, but also help keep the mouth healthy and improve speech and facial aesthetics. Wearing them is well worth the time and money spent and the last thing anyone would want to see once they’ve removed their braces is unsightly stains, cavities and the presence of gum disease. Plaque and food frequently collect on the braces and must be removed regularly.
Below are some tips you should consider when caring for your teeth during your orthodontic treatment:
1. Choose the right toothbrush
Although good results can be achieved with a regular toothbrush, you may want to consider using an electric or sonic toothbrush designed for cleaning around braces and be sure to use the right amount of pressure as too much pressure may not allow the head to rotate completely. This type of toothbrush will provide a more effective clean and save you time.
If you prefer to use a manual toothbrush, a good tip is to tilt the brush downwards so that is it at approximately 45 degrees to the tooth’s surface and brush using circular motions while moving the brush forwards. Make sure you are getting the brush to reach your gumline. Repeat the same process while tilting the brush upwards. This should be done for both the top and bottom arches.
2. Brush the inside of your teeth
Move the brush back and forth, up and down and then with circular motions on the inside of your top and bottom teeth. This step should be quite straightforward.
3. Brush the crows of your teeth
To brush the biting/chewing surfaces of your teeth, turn your toothbrush perpendicular to the teeth and use back and forth and circular motions. This is a very important step, as the grooves and crevices of teeth are excellent locations to harbour bacteria. Always be sure to get the brush to reach the very back teeth.
4. Brush between your teeth
Due to the presence of an arch wire, special interproximal brushes must be used to ensure that the edges of the brackets are free from plaque and debris. Place the brush under the arch wire and use an up and down motion to clean both edges of the bracket.
Using dental floss is a little bit more difficult with braces, but is nonetheless a very important step for avoiding interproximal caries.
To use traditional waxed floss:
· Cut a 12 to 18 inch piece of floss and thread it between the main wire and your teeth.
· Thread the floss between the main wire and your teeth. You may want to use a mirror for this process.
· Wrap the ends of the floss around your index fingers to make handling the floss easier.
· Gently press the floss between two teeth and slide the floss up and down along the sides of both teeth. Make sure to get the floss below the gum line as well.
· Remove the floss, and gently unthread it from behind the wire. Be careful to not pop the floss out of the interproximal space as you might accidentally knock the wire and pop it out of the bracket.
If you struggle with this step, ask your dentist for a quick demo of how to do this properly. Alternatively, you could try a water flosser.
6. Brush your tongue
This is a great additional step that can help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Bacterial plaque often accumulates on the tongue and may then redeposit onto your teeth. Additionally, an unclean tongue is often a source of bad breath. To clean the tongue, you may use brushing or scraping.
To scrape your tongue, use a tongue scraper. These devices are designed to glide along the surface of your tongue, taking off the tongues layer of mucus and the bacteria and debris that it traps. To use the scraper effectively, stick out your tongue and place it at the back of the tongue. Now, with even pressure, slide the scraper down along the tongues surface and tip. Rinse the scraper and repeat until the whole surface of the tongue is scraped. Then, thoroughly clean and dry the scraper.
Finish off your oral hygiene routine by rinsing your mouth our with mouthwash for 30 seconds to 1 minute, making sure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions.