Stewart Family Orthodontics | Dr. Charles Stewart, DDS | Serving the Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX areas
Patients wearing braces need to be ever vigilant when it comes to keeping their braces, teeth and gums clean. By following your orthodontist’s instructions on oral hygiene and avoiding certain foods, you can maintain healthy teeth and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. Plaque is your enemy. If plaque is left on your teeth, around the braces, you can develop swollen gums, bad breath, scarred & discolored teeth, even cavities. Click on the buttons below to learn the ins and outs of oral hygiene and braces!
Caring for your retainer
Retainers, just like your teeth collect plaque, bacteria and food particles. You should clean your retainer everyday! Keep your retainer soaking when it is not in your mouth. Use a mouthwash rinse to freshen it up and keep it free of bacteria. Keep your retainer away from heat; the plastic can crack if it gets too dry or too hot. Try not to bend the wires; flipping your retainer in your mouth can do this.
Foods to avoid
Patients should avoid foods that are sticky, hard or chewy. They should also avoid any food and drinks that are known to cause cavities. Patients should brush, floss and rinse their mouth regularly between meals.
The foods below are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and are examples of what NOT to eat:
- beef jerky
- hard or sticky candy
- corn chips
- crisp taco shells
- whole apples
- soft drinks
- candy bars
Brushing with braces
Now that you have braces, your teeth are more difficult to clean, so you have to be very careful to keep those new braces clean. You should brush your teeth properly after every meal and snack. Always keep your toothbrush handy, you should even be brushing at school or work after lunch. You will also need to replace your toothbrush more often, since the braces will make it wear out quicker. The steps below are how to properly brush your new braces.
- Step 1 – Brush the outside of your teeth using small circular motions, making sure to include the outside of your the back teeth too.
- Step 2 – Start with your gums and the area between your gums and braces. Keep the toothbrush at an angle, down for the upper teeth, up for the lower teeth. Move back and forth in a circular pattern.
- Step 3 – Clean under the braces and the rest of your teeth by angling the brush up to reach your upper teeth and down to reach your lower teeth.
- Step 4 – Brush the chewing surface of your teeth. Move the brush back and forth, careful to reach those back teeth!
- Step 5 – Finish your brushing session by getting those hard to reach inside parts. After you are finished, rinse your mouth out with water. Follow with an antiseptic dental rinse.
Flossing with braces
Flossing with braces is a bit on the tricky side, so it takes a few minutes to perfect. But don’t give up, flossing is very important to the health of your teeth. The steps below are how to properly floss with your new braces.
- Step 1 – Thread your floss under the wire that connects your braces together.
- Step 2 – Once you have threaded the floss under the wire, wrap the floss around the tooth on one side. The Floss is then pushed up towards the gum line and then pulled down toward the wire. Repeat this step 5 times to remove all plaque.
- Step 3 – Wrap the floss around the neighboring tooth and repeat the process on this tooth. Once both teeth are done, pull the floss out and repeat the process for the next two teeth.
The interdental brush is especially good in cleaning the tooth surface next to the braces.
The water jet is an effective tool to remove plaque and debris lodged deep between teeth and around braces. The water jet shoots a pulsing stream of water that dislodges remaining food particles. Adding an antiseptic dental rinse to the water is recommended. Use the water jet after your regular brushing and flossing routine.
An antiseptic dental rinse (Peroxyl) should be used after every meal (at least 4 times a day) to control minor gum inflammation and irritations that might arise from orthodontic treatment.
A fluoride rinse that helps prevent tooth decay by killing harmful bacteria and replenishing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. Rinsing does not replace brushing. You should rinse after brushing and flossing.