How to maintain your oral hygiene
Oral hygiene is incredibly important; however, a regular and meticulous oral hygiene routine becomes doubly important when wearing braces. Without a high standard of hygiene during your orthodontic treatment, damage to the teeth and gums can occur within a few hours as a result of a build up of plaque and/or food substances.
Here is some advice on how best to avoid this:
Brush your teeth regularly
While you are wearing braces, it is necessary to brush your teeth at least four times a day after every meal using fluoride-based toothpaste. To ensure you do this, make sure you take a toothbrush with you to school, work or when out socialising. If you do not develop this routine, the enamel of your teeth will be permanently stained and damaged in places which are exposed to attack by food and plaque acids. This is known as decalcification. Even if you have a removable brace it is necessary to brush your teeth after meals to prevent the build up of destructive plaque.
To avoid decalcification:
- Brush for three to five minutes using a large headed toothbrush to remove all the food and plaque on the teeth. Use short, fast and firm, forwards and backwards motions, making sure you brush above and below your brace to clean your gum-lines.
- Use an interspace toothbrush to access all the areas missed by the large headed toothbrush. Firmly brush so that the bristles spread out in between the wires, brackets and gum margins.
- After brushing and before you go to bed use a fluoride mouthwash to help strengthen the teeth.
If you are using an electric toothbrush, use a brand or model recommended by your orthodontist. Some electric toothbrushes come with orthodontic appliances to make it easier to clean your brace.
Use disclosing tablets
Disclosing tablets help you identify the parts of your mouth where food or plaque gathers. A disclosing tablet should be used three times a week. This is done by placing the disclosing tablet in your mouth, chewing thoroughly and spreading the saliva to all tooth and gum surfaces using your tongue, until the red stain is spread evenly. At this point you should spit out the saliva and rinse your mouth out with water. The areas of plaque will be stained red and will show where you are missing and not brushing properly. Then brush your teeth until all the stains are removed.
Eat the right foods
You shouldn’t need to change your diet when wearing braces; however, there are three types of food that may cause significant trouble to your appliance and should therefore be avoided.
- Hard foods, such as nuts, ice and caramel, may do damage by bending wires, loosening cement under the bands or breaking the little brackets and tubes which are attached.
- Sticky foods such as toffee, or worse still bubble gum, can damage fixed orthodontic appliances by bending wires and pulling cement loose.
- Foods with a high sugar content, like sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks, will definitely damage the enamel and are therefore not allowed during treatment.