A Guide to Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

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A Guide to Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

A Guide to Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

The Importance of Oral Hygiene.

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. It is essential that you put some extra attention into preventing tooth decay while wearing your braces.

When your braces are removed, you want a beautiful, white smile, not decayed or stained teeth. Here are a few tips to help you keep your teeth healthy while wearing your braces:


Learn Proper Brushing Techniques

Now that you have your braces, it is just as important to maintain good oral health for the length of your treatment and this is all dependent on your oral hygiene regime at home. The braces, wires and bands can trap food particles and plaque, and make it difficult to brush and floss. However with a careful hygiene regime at home, preferably after every meal and snack, it is possible to prevent plaque build-up, white marks, tooth decay and gum disease.


Brush after Every Meal

It is important to take your time when cleaning your teeth. It should take you at least 3 minutes. You can use an electric toothbrush with a sensitive head, however you must ensure that you move it around very slowly and still have the correct angles for a thorough clean. The quicker you move the electric toothbrush around, the less it cleans. If you prefer a manual toothbrush, make sure it’s a soft bristled toothbrush and follow the instructions below.


(We find that every patient’s oral hygiene improves when they use an electric toothbrush should they have difficulty brushing well. If they use both, ensure that they use the electric toothbrush at night and the manual in the morning as the night clean is the most important. Describe it as bacteria having a party in their mouth while they sleep at night, because of all the food stuck in their teeth. The ideal OH regime is using both, electric toothbrush first and then manual toothbrush for the gum and the nooks and crannies of the brackets.)


Using a Manual Toothbrush

Step 1: With your soft manual toothbrush, brush at a 90° angle to your teeth in circular motions to keep your braces clean.

Step 2: Clean the area between the gums and braces of your upper teeth, as well as the little nooks and crannies of your braces, by angling the toothbrush down in a 45° angle towards the braces (up in a 45° angle for the lower jaw). Keep moving your toothbrush in a small circular motion, ensuring you are massaging your gums at the same time.

Step 3: Massage the gums on their own as lots of plaque collects at the edge of the gumline and this area this most common for demineralization.

Step 4: Clean the rest of the outside of your upper teeth by angling the toothbrush up in a 45° angle towards the braces (down in a 45° angle for the lower jaw).

Step 5: Ensure to brush the chewing surfaces of your upper and lower jaw well, in order to keep the grooves of your teeth clean.

Step 6: Finish by brushing the inside of your teeth, ensuring to massage your gums, and then your tongue.


Flossing

Step 1: Floss at least once a day. Using Superfloss or a Floss Threader will make flossing much easier. Start by either getting a piece of Superfloss or threading a piece of floss through the floss threader.

Step 2: Push the floss under the archwire using the stiff threader end and pull the floss through.

Step 3: Wriggle the floss up between the teeth and gently rub it up and down each side of both teeth. Remember to move it up all the way under the gums until it stops.

Step 4: Pull the floss out from between the teeth and then from under the arch wire. Move to the next tooth. Work systematically so you don’t miss any teeth and remember to only floss the teeth you want to keep. (Jokes!!)


Interdental Brushes (Piksters)

Piksters are an important aid in keeping your teeth, gums and braces clean. It needs to be changed quite often as the bristles are quite fine, therefore like a toothbrush, when the bristles are getting too soft and bending in all directions, it is time to change it.

How to Use:

Step 1: Bend the brush at an angle that makes it easier to get under the arch wire.

Step 2: Maneuver the brush under the archwire and wriggle it up and down, and side to side at least 10 times on either side of the braces. This will help to clean the tooth surface under the arch wire that is missed when brushing your teeth, and the sides of the braces. Should this area be missed, you may get demineralization marks on the sides of the brackets.


Eat Braces-Safe Foods

When you have braces, there are certain foods that you must avoid. For starters, sticky foods such as caramel can get stuck in your braces and are difficult to remove during brushing. Avoid hard foods too, such as nuts, popcorn and lollies. Those goodies can bend wires or even break a bracket. And while you may love apples, carrots, or corn on the cob, they’re too firm or hard to bite into and can damage your braces. Therefore you must cut these up into smaller bite size pieces and cut the corn off the cob. Crunchy treats can also harm your orthodontic appliances. It’s best to stay away from chips and popcorn, which can damage your braces. So just what can you eat? We recommend soft foods that are low in acids, such as bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta.


Get Regular Checkups

It is important to maintain your regular 6 monthly visits to your general dentist for exams and cleans while you have your braces. It may even be recommended that you see your general dentist every 3-4 months depending on how effective your oral hygiene is.

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