People can wear braces for up to 24 months as orthodontists fix crooked bites and guide teeth to the right positions. During this process, food particles and plaque can become trapped in areas between brackets and wires and begin to accumulate.
According to an Oral B blog, patients with braces should be prepared to spend three times their normal amount of time for dental care.
“If you don’t pay attention to oral hygiene while your teeth are being realigned, you increase your risk of gum disease. Plus, it can help your teeth look that much better when it’s finally time to get your braces removed,” according to the blog.
Once teeth are straightened, it is much easier to brush, floss and deal with any food particles and plaque.
To appropriately brush your teeth when you have braces, remove the elastics, bands or removable parts of orthodontic appliances, clean around the wires and pins, move top to bottom and fully around upper and lower teeth while brushing each wire, then get started brushing your teeth.
According to Oral B, dental professionals recommend patients brush their teeth for two minutes, twice daily.
“It’s four minutes out of your day that contributes to your dental health, the health of your gums, your overall health and potentially to the way your teeth will look after braces are removed,” said Calgary Orthodontist Dr. Vivek Cheba. “It is simply a logical step, and that is what I tell my patients.”
The post-brushing step is to rinse teeth thoroughly and examine to see if anything was missed.
Flossing is a bit trickier, but ease and speed can increase with practice, just as with anything else. Some patients prefer the water flosser, but as Dr. Charles Gemmi notes in his blog, the water flosser is not often as effective at removing plaque as dental floss.
Oral B suggests flossing once a day with waxed floss. Waxed floss is suggested over unwaxed floss because it is less likely to get caught and shred in the braces. Another possible product is dental tape, a product designed to clean around braces.
Carefully thread the waxed floss under the main wire before pushing it between two teeth.
“Don’t snap it–simply move up and down gently, remove and move on to the next pair of teeth,” according to the blog.
Dr. Vivek Cheba said regular checkups are essential to make sure the braces are functioning properly and your teeth are in good condition and not developing cavities.
“We give patients a list of foods they should eat and foods they should avoid, and try to encourage soft foods that are also good for overall health, but everyone is human. Things can break on the braces if they eat an unrecommended food. That needs to be addressed quickly so that progress can continue on as smoothly as possible,” Dr. Cheba said.
Some people should also consider a fluoride mouthwash to help control plaque buildup, according to Oral B. Further, parents with children who are too young to have the proper coordination to floss their teeth and thread the floss between wires should help their children.