Keeping your teeth clean with braces is a lot harder with braces. The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will have the best possible result.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.
Braces are fragile, so it is important to avoid certain foods and drinks to protect the integrity of your braces. Avoid eating hard foods like nuts, ice, hard tacos, whole apples and carrots, hard French bread crusts and rolls, ribs, corn on the cob and popcorn! Sticky foods like taffy, caramels, bubble gum or any type of sticky candy should also be avoided. These foods can easily break the brackets and wires. Foods aren't the only thing that can damage your braces. Bad habits like nail biting and pen or pencil chewing can cause damage as well. Use common sense when eating and keep in mind that excessive broken appliances will only prolong your treatment and result in additional charges for repair.
Be sure to check your braces weekly for any loose or bent wires or brackets. If you notice something is out of place or loose, contact our office so we can schedule an appointment to repair it.
During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws. If you feel anything sharp poking you, please call our office.
Elastics are a vital part of treatment and are also contingent upon patient compliance. They add extra pressure to the braces to help move the teeth. Generally worn at all times (excluding eating and brushing your teeth), elastics should be changed at least once a day. They come in various sizes as they are each used for a specific purpose. We will provide you with the appropriate size.
It is important to wear them consistently or treatment setbacks may occur. If only one day is missed, it could cause your teeth to shift back to their original position!
Removable appliances are designed to move or hold your teeth, so it is important to wear them as instructed to ensure you receive optimum results.
Important Tips About Your Appliance
- Wear your appliance at all times, even when sleeping. The only time your appliance should be removed is while you're eating, brushing your teeth, swimming or playing vigorous activities.
- After you first receive your appliance, it will take a few days for you to adjust to speaking with it.
- You may also experience some soreness for the first few days, but this will also subside. If the discomfort continues or if you have a sore spot in your gums, contact our office.
- It is important to avoid flipping your appliance with your tongue as this can cause damage to not only your appliance, but your teeth as well.
- Clean your appliance daily with toothpaste or denture cleanser.
- Never wrap your appliance in a napkin or tissue and set it on the table.
- Don't store your appliance in your pocket.
- Your appliance should always be stored in its plastic container.
- Keep your appliance away from pets as they like to chew on them.
- Do not try to sterilize your appliance in boiling water. Just bring it to our office to be disinfected if needed.
- Do not soak your retainer in mouthwash.
Important Tips About Your Expander
- Wear your expander 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when eating and sleeping. The only time it should be removed is while brushing your teeth or swimming.
- Don't store your expander in a napkin or your pocket. Always store it in the plastic container.
- Keep your expander out of reach from young children and pets.
- It will take a few days for you to adjust to speaking with your expander.
- There will be a fee for any repairs or replacement expanders.
- Be sure to brush your teeth without your expander in, and then brush your expander with toothpaste as well.
- Do not attempt to sterilize your expander in boiling water or the microwave.
- Be sure to turn your expander with the special key once a week.
Please bring your appliance to all of your appointments, and keep in mind that additional charges may be applied for broken appliances.