You can’t wait to see the transformation in your smile when your braces are removed. But until then, you face the challenge of brushing and flossing around the network of brackets and wires covering your teeth.
At Dentistry With a Smile in Livingston, New Jersey, Maria Victoria Sebastian, DDS, answers your questions and explains how to care for your braces. And our team is always here to help if you run into any problems.
In the meantime, follow these guidelines to keep your braces in good shape and prevent dental problems.
Pieces of food get trapped in your braces, creating a place where bacteria thrive. Without frequent and thorough brushing, sticky plaque forms. In a day or two, bacteria-filled plaque hardens into tartar that brushing can’t remove.
These four tips will protect your braces and keep your teeth clean:
Instead of brushing twice daily, brush after each meal and before you go to bed. Removing particles of food right away prevents them from building up in your braces throughout the day.
Carefully brush around all sides of your teeth and overall your wires and brackets. Pay extra attention to brushing areas where food and bacteria like to hide, which is where your teeth meet your gums, and braces attach to your teeth.
The bristles of a soft toothbrush get in and around your braces and wires more easily than a hard brush. Use a floss threader to guide floss under the wires or consider options for traditional flossing. Try replacing your floss with a water flosser or Proxabrush®, a slender brush that fits through your braces.
Everyone can use an antimicrobial mouthwash to help kill bacteria, minimize plaque, and prevent gum infections. We may recommend using a fluoride rinse at night, depending on your overall dental health.
If your braces have rubber bands, remember that they’re crucial for achieving your perfect smile. You need to wear them consistently because they apply the force that moves your teeth. We teach you how to change them, how often to change them, and how long to wear them.
Nothing is worse for your braces than sticky foods like gum and caramel candies. Any sticky food can damage your wires and brackets. And these foods are nearly impossible to brush away after they get trapped in your braces.
You should also avoid popcorn, chewy or hard foods, and firm foods you bite into, like corn-on-the-cob, apples, and raw carrots. Examples of chewy and hard foods include bagels, nuts, and hard pretzels.
Bacteria inside your mouth love sweets just as much as you do. Sugary foods like cake, ice cream, cookies, etc., are quickly consumed by bacteria, which contributes to plaque. After metabolizing sugar, bacteria also release acids that erode your tooth enamel.
Do you bite your fingernails, chew on pencils, or use your teeth to tear open packages? These habits can break or damage your braces.
If you enjoy sports, especially contact sports, we recommend wearing a custom-made mouthguard. A mouthguard protects your lips and cheeks from getting cut on your braces and also prevents broken braces if you experience a blow to your face.
Call us right away if you have a loose bracket, a broken or loose wire, or your braces are irritating your mouth. Any problem with your braces needs immediate attention. Otherwise, your braces won’t work properly, and you’ll have to wear them longer.
We schedule regular appointments to make adjustments as needed, monitor your progress, and make sure you’re not developing any dental hygiene problems. Skipping your checkups will prolong the time it takes to move your teeth and improve your smile.