When it comes to straightening teeth, braces are far from a solo effort, Getting the very best results from orthodontic treatment takes teamwork between you and your orthodontist. While you’re wearing braces, one of your most important tasks is to keep your teeth squeaky clean by brushing and flossing regularly. But we know all those bands and wires can make that a bit harder to do than normal!
All of us here at Webb Family Orthodontics are invested in successfully straightening your smile. Check out these tips and techniques to help you keep your teeth clean and decay-free while you’re in braces, and beyond.
Brush up on the basics
Whether you’re wearing braces or not, you should be using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a head that’s small enough to reach all areas in your mouth. Add just a dab of fluoride toothpaste, and thoroughly brush all tooth surfaces. Aim for at least two minutes, at least twice per day. No skipping surfaces! Make sure you’re getting the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
It’s really important to carefully clean around the brackets and in the spaces between the wires and your teeth. Food particles can become trapped here and lead to decay. This holds true for the areas between brackets and gums as well.
For the most effective brushing, place your toothbrush at about a 45-degree angle to your gums and gently move the bristles back and forth. Clean one small area at a time, and when you’re done, move on to the next area. Work all the way around your mouth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too!
Pro tip: if you like listening to music, try brushing for the length of one song, about two to three minutes. This will make the process more enjoyable, and ensure you’re brushing long enough.
Tools of the trade
There are some special tools available to help clean those challenging areas near brackets and wires. Interdental toothbrushes look a little bit like miniature pipe cleaners, with bristles all around and a grip on the end. These are small enough to get in between teeth and wires, and can easily reach into places your standard toothbrush won’t go. This is a great way to keep those slim spaces clear of food and debris.
Oral irrigator or water pick
These handy devices squirt out a pressurized stream of water that can be used to remove debris from around the wires and bands of your braces. These aren’t a substitute for brushing and flossing, but an additional way to help keep even the narrowest spaces clean.
Never fear the flossing
In addition to brushing twice a day, you need to floss at least once a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Plaque bacteria that aren’t removed from the teeth can result in decay and gum disease. When you wear braces, this can sometimes cause white spots on the teeth or unsightly gum overgrowth. Brushing alone can’t remove all of these bacteria. That’s where dental floss comes in.
In order to floss effectively, you should hold the strand of floss snug against the tooth surface and work it up and down gently, from chewing surface to gums. Keep moving section by section around the teeth, using a clean length of floss when it becomes soiled.
Wondering how you’re going to get floss around those wires? There’s a simple tool called a floss threader that is something like a sewing needle, allowing you to pull a piece of floss through its “eye,” and then push it under the wire. Once it’s through, you can simply grab the free end of the floss and use it as you normally would.
Check your technique
Clearly, good brushing and flossing are essential to your overall oral health, especially when you’re wearing braces. But it isn’t always easy to tell if your technique is as effective as it should, or could, be. Want a way to know for sure? Try using a plaque disclosing solution or tablet. Made with harmless vegetable dyes, these over-the-counter oral hygiene aids will brightly highlight any places your brushing and flossing may have missed.
Our team here at Webb Family Orthodontics understands that your treatment requires a good deal of time and effort, but it’s an investment that will pay off every time you show your smile! If at any point you feel you need more support, or have questions or concerns about your braces, get in touch and let us help. We’re here for you, and we’re committed to keeping your smile on the straight and narrow!