Orthodontics is a specialty discipline of dentistry that focuses on alignment of the teeth and jaws to improve a person’s smile and oral health. Crooked teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean and are at risk for tooth decay and gum disease. This is done through braces. When you have braces on teeth, those teeth need extra attention to protect them from decay, staining and gum disease. You should also take precautions to avoid damaging the braces. For example, activities to avoid include eating chewy or sticky sweets, eating hard or crunchy foods, biting your lip, breathing excessively through your mouth and pushing your tongue against your teeth. Here are 4 tips to help you care for your braces.
- CAREFUL BRUSHING OF TEETH
You should brush after every time you eat — even after that mid-afternoon vending machine snack or some late-night munchies. That’s because food particles easily become trapped in the braces, and the longer those particles stay trapped, the greater risk you have of developing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush with round bristle. Also, it’s important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets.
- BRUSHING IN-BETWEEN THE BRACKETS
Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food stuck in and around your braces. Once again, remember that it’s important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets. Brush your gum line first, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle at the bottom of the brackets. Rinse again after brushing.
- FLOSSING IS IMPORTANT
Floss at least once a day, making sure you floss not only between the braces but also under the wires. To more easily floss under the wires, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser, which you can buy at drug stores. Waxed floss is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces than unwaxed floss. If you have space between your teeth, you might find that an interproximal (also called interdental) brush that goes between the teeth works better than flossing. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator. Its stream of pulsating water can remove plaque and food debris. You can also rinse with a mouthwash
- KEEP UP WITH YOUR APPOINTMENTS
Make sure to visit your orthodontist for regular follow-ups. You’ll also want to make appointments with your regular dentist for cleanings and exams. Some dentists will ask your orthodontist to remove the wires before a cleaning, while others will clean around them. Avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces. Hard foods are another no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets.