The main purpose of dental braces is to straighten the misaligned teeth or bite. However, it does not take care of the health of the teeth. There is a good chance of food getting stuck in between the braces and the teeth due to the brackets and wires. This is why oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing are more important when you have braces.
Proper dental hygiene helps in keeping the teeth clean and prevent bacteria from growing in the mouth. It dislodges the food stuck in the teeth before they can turn into plaque.
Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene Habits
Poor oral hygiene can lead to several dental problems. These may include tooth decay, gum disease or infection.
Braces can trap small food particles against the teeth. This will give bacteria a breeding ground to grow and multiply. If sugary or sticky food particles are not cleaned or remain trapped, the tooth will start decaying. There may a plaque build-up as well.
After the bacteria digest the sugars in the food, it will leave behind acid on the teeth. Once the braces are removed, there may be plaque marks or stains around the braces. There may also be possible areas of decay. This won’t be the case if you have good oral hygiene habits.
Poor oral hygiene habits may lead to additional treatment once the braces come off or it can extend the existing treatment.
4 Good Oral Hygiene Practices to Follow
Regular Dental Visits for Cleanings
Regular orthodontic visits are important. When you have braces, you must schedule dental visits for cleanings. Schedule a visit every 6 months. The dentist can tell you which areas you need to focus on to keep the teeth healthy.
The dentist may do proper cleaning of the teeth if required. He can also suggest ideas or tools on how to care for braces and keep the teeth healthy.
Use Fluoride and Mouthwash
Use fluoride toothpaste or rinse with a mouthwash that has fluoride. It helps in strengthening the tooth enamel, prevents tooth decay and kills the germs. Fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to the acids produced after eating or drinking. It also replaces the minerals that are lost in the early stages of tooth decay.
Brush and Floss Regularly
Your oral hygiene routine must consist of brushing and flossing twice a day without fail. Use a soft-bristled brush as it will be gentle on the gums and clean the teeth effectively. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and move it in small circular motions. Parents can help and teach kids to brush with braces. It would be a good idea to brush after every meal so that the teeth stay clean at all times.
There may be some nooks and corners that the toothbrush cannot reach. Use floss to clean such places. A floss threader helps you floss between the wires and gums. Floss at least once a day.
Maintain a Proper Diet
When you have braces, you must maintain a proper diet. Educate yourself which food you must eat and which must be avoided.
For instance, you must avoid hard and crunchy foods that may break the wires or damage the brackets. Stay away from sugary foods since they can cause tooth decay and cavities. Stick to braces-friendly foods till the braces come off. These include puddings, smoothies, scrambled eggs, pancakes, rice, etc.
Stay away from foods that can leave stains, such as wine and coffee. Once the braces come off, these stains may be visible and make the teeth look dirty.
Follow necessary hygiene practices if you have braces. This helps in keeping your teeth clean and healthy. It also ensures that the treatment gets completed on time.
Dr. Satish Pai is an orthodontist and an Ivy League trained dentist who has and has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Rome Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with his family.