A consistent oral hygiene routine is essential for keeping your smile looking and feeling good. Good oral hygiene is also a necessary part of your orthodontic treatment. Brackets and wires create nooks and crannies that trap food debris and bacteria. These spaces make braces tough to clean properly, but consistent brushing and flossing fight the plaque that feeds any sugar entering the mouth. If you use Invisalign, you have to remember to maintain your aligners, too! Lively & Napoli Orthodontics has some handy tips to maintain your oral health during orthodontic treatment.
Brushing with Braces
Once you get your braces, you’ll need to tweak your usual technique since you have brackets and wires to navigate. You’ll need to brush more often, too! We recommend brushing three to four times a day for at least two minutes each time to keep food particles and plaque from building up in between your braces and teeth.
There’s no fancy toothbrush we recommend using with braces, but you should choose one with soft bristles. Manual toothbrushes can sometimes leave food particles and plaque behind no matter how thorough your brushing is, so we recommend you use an electric toothbrush for its extra power.
Be sure to use fluoridated toothpaste to give your teeth the added health benefits that come with it. We also suggest using mouthwash to rinse around your brackets daily. Choose an anti-cavity fluoride mouthwash to help reduce tooth decay and protect enamel! Rinsing for one minute will help flush out any debris still trapped after brushing and flossing.
To get the most out of brushing, refer to the following guidelines.
- Go easy on the toothpaste! Too much can create excess foam, making it difficult to see any plaque and debris. A pea-sized amount should be sufficient.
- Hold the toothbrush against the front sides of the teeth, and move the toothbrush in small circular motions. Try to follow the regular curve of the gums and teeth as you go from tooth to tooth.
- Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly; make sure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
- Take care to brush the biting surfaces of the teeth, the backsides of the teeth, and behind the molars.
- Don’t forget to brush the roof of your mouth and tongue before rinsing!
- To properly clean the brackets, angle the brush head against them, and remember to brush thoroughly under the wires.
Once you finish brushing, inspect your teeth and braces carefully to ensure they’re spotless. Look in a well-lit mirror to see if you’ve missed anything, and check for loose or broken brackets. If you see something out of the ordinary, let us know! Your orthodontist will advise you on whether or not it needs to be checked out or repaired.
Flossing with Braces
Flossing is another essential part of oral care, but it can be frustrating when you add an orthodontic appliance to the mix. It may seem like you’ve brushed away every bit of food debris, but braces can easily trap tiny particles in places that are hard to see and reach.
The good news is there are many products available to help make this process easier! Floss threaders are one example. This reusable tool has a stiff end that easily flosses under the archwire between the brackets. To ensure you’re flossing correctly with braces, try following these simple tips:
- Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire above the space between the two teeth. Insert the floss halfway through, then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, you’ll be able to hear a slight squeaking sound.
- Floss your gum line with the floss in a “C” shape and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
- Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.
It may take a while to get through this process initially, but keep at it! With some patience and practice, flossing will become second nature. A little effort will go a long way, and your smile will thank you!
Maintaining Clear Aligners
Invisalign clear aligners from Lively & Napoli Orthodontics are completely removable, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning between brackets and wires. However, you do need to clear your aligners to maintain their clear appearance and avoid bacteria buildup. To keep your trays in good shape, follow these guidelines.
- Rinse your aligners when you remove them since dry saliva, and plaque can breed bacteria.
- Soak your aligners using denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals to keep your trays clear and sanitized.
- Brush and floss your teeth before you put your aligner back in to keep harmful particles from getting trapped.
- Clean your aligners with a clear antibacterial soap to keep them fresh and bacteria-free.
- Brush your aligners gently and carefully. Brushing too hard can scratch your aligners and leave visible marks.
- Eat or drink anything but water while you’re wearing your aligners. Many foods and drinks can stain or discolor your aligners, and some may even cause odors.
- Use toothpaste to clean your aligners. The abrasive agents that can make your teeth sparkle will have the opposite effect on your aligner and can also create small traps for bacteria.
- Leave your aligners protected when they’re not in your mouth, as this can expose them to harmful germs and bacteria. Rinse them, soak them, and then rinse them again before returning them to your mouth.
- Soak your aligners in any sort of mouthwash.
- Put them in a heated liquid of any kind!
Never Skip a Check-Up
Regular check-ups are a vital part of your orthodontic treatment, so always keep your appointments. If you’re wearing braces, you’ll visit our Stuart office every four to six weeks so your orthodontist can adjust the wire that guides your teeth into place.
With Invisalign, you don’t have to worry about getting your braces adjusted and tightened every few weeks. Instead, you get to do that on your own by changing out your trays. However, you’ll still need to attend check-ups every six to eight weeks to ensure your treatment goes according to plan.
It’s important to go to every check-up appointment. If anything comes up or you can’t make it, contact our Stuart office to reschedule as soon as possible. Remember, these appointments help keep your treatment on track.
Give Your Smile the Attention It Deserves with Lively & Napoli Orthodontics
There’s a direct connection between oral health and successfully straightening your smile. Following these guidelines for brushing and flossing during orthodontic treatment will keep your mouth healthy while we work on giving you a better bite! If you have any questions or concerns about oral hygiene during treatment, our expert team is always here to help set your mind at ease.
Are you interested in learning more about being proactive with your smile? Get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment with Dr. Lively or Dr. Napoli in our Stuart office.