Caring For Braces
Dr. Fred Alba and Dr. Jeff Alba are known for creating beautiful smiles, but the real all-star in your smile journey is YOU! Here are some tips for taking care of your braces and your smile, to ensure that you get the most out of your orthodontic treatment.
Take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment.
By brushing and flossing regularly, you'll keep your teeth and gums at their best and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest smile possible.
When your braces come off, you'll see that your extra efforts have been rewarded with a healthy, great-looking smile that'll last the rest of your life.
If you fail to spend a little extra time caring for your braces, you may end up with white spots on your teeth once the braces are removed. This is an unsightly condition that no one wants.
Doing Your Part
To get the healthy and beautiful smile you want, you, your family dentist, and Dr. Alba will have to work together.
As the patient, you play the key part. It's up to you to make sure that your treatment is successful. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth clean and maintain good dental hygiene while wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it. It will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Plaque Is Your Enemy
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that collects on your teeth. It's made of bacteria, food, and saliva. If you let plaque and trapped food stay on and around your braces, they can cause swollen gums, bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks on your teeth.
As your Mechanicsburg orthodontist, we advise brushing your teeth regularly to remove this plaque. We teach all of our patients the correct way to floss while wearing braces to make sure you remove all plaque regularly.
When to Clean
Brush thoroughly each time you have a meal or snack. If you can't brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.
Carry a travel toothbrush so that you can brush when you aren’t home. At least once every day, brush your teeth and braces thoroughly until they are spotlessly clean, and then floss. This takes a little extra time, so you may want to do it at night before going to bed.
How to Brush
During your braces treatment, you will need to relearn the basics of brushing your teeth. Relearning this everyday task will teach you to pay attention to the cracks and crevices not only between teeth but around brackets and wires.
The Alba Orthodontics team will help you get the hang of it.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. Move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may have worked their way under your gum line.
Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully. Clean between your teeth, the surface of each tooth, and around each bracket and your wires.
You’ll have to spend several minutes carefully brushing to get your teeth and braces clean. Brush your teeth three to four times a day to keep food and plaque from accumulating.
You should brush:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After dinner
- At bedtime
Brushing the brackets and wires can wear your toothbrush out more quickly. If you notice the bristles starting to bend or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one.
Don’t swallow any toothpaste as you brush and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after brushing.
Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror.
This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact Alba Orthodontics to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
How to Floss
It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.
Our helpful Mechanicsburg orthodontist staff will help you learn proper flossing techniques when you choose us for your orthodontic care.
These tips for flossing with braces will make the process smoother for you, and you'll be a pro in no time.
A floss threader, which has a stiff end, will help you push the floss under your archwire. Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed.
When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.
Flossing with braces may seem like a difficult process, but it’s very important. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot faster.
Eating With Braces
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you chow down, you'll need to take care to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces.
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
Foods You Can Eat
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of to keep your braces functioning perfectly.
Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces. Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Other Hygiene Helpers
In addition to the regular dental hygiene tools we are familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products we can recommend that make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Alba. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Power Toothbrush or Waterpik: These devices, such as the Oral-B Professional Series toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque gathers around your braces, you may have permanent stains on your teeth after your appliance is removed. This is called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the buildup of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Prevent Gum Disease
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums. To avoid this, carefully follow the hygiene directions you get from Drs. Alba and our team.