How to Protect Your Smile
The prospect of straighter teeth and an improved smile from orthodontic treatment is undoubtedly an exciting thought for people of all ages. However, proper dental care with braces throughout the orthodontic experience is essential for an optimal outcome. Good dental hygiene is important.
The care taken while in braces can largely affect how your teeth will look at the end of the process. If appropriate care is neglected, plaque and tartar build-up can cause noticeable white spots to form around where braces or Invisalign attachments were once present. Thankfully, these white spots are relatively rare and completely avoidable with good oral hygiene.
If implemented correctly, proper dental care with braces can make a big difference in having a great, enjoyable, and smooth orthodontic experience.
How to Brush with Braces
Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke affirm that the proper care of braces and teeth by means of brushing and flossing are crucial to oral health and a beautiful smile, even after the braces are removed.
In order to know how to protect your smile, the following steps should be consistently followed when it comes to brushing.
- First, take all elastics and removable orthodontic appliances (Invisalign trays, retainers, etc.) out of your mouth.
- Clean above and below the braces themselves with your toothbrush to ensure that leftover food is not stuck in any of the brackets and wires. Use a sweeping motion to get the bristles of the toothbrush underneath the main braces archwire. If you have an expander, space maintainer, or other appliance that is fixed (glued) in the mouth, be sure to brush all metal and plastic surfaces thoroughly.
- Then, with the toothbrush at a 45° angle, brush your teeth and gums. Be sure to spend a good amount of time brushing the gums. Also include the roof of your mouth, your tongue, and both sides of the teeth.
- Back molars are particularly elusive areas that make it easy to miss lingering food particles. Special attention to these areas should be given.
Dentists generally recommend patients brush for two minutes, two times daily. Orthodontic patients with fixed appliances (braces, glued-in expanders, etc.) should consider brushing longer and more frequently.
Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, selecting one with extra soft bristles is recommended over firmer bristles. We also suggest using fluoridated toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash to strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.
How to Floss with Braces
Orthodontists recommend flossing at least once per day, but preferably after each meal. The most efficient way to floss is to feed the floss underneath the wire between each bracket to get between adjacent teeth. A gentle sawing motion should be used between each tooth. If you are having issues getting the floss between the braces, your orthodontist can provide special floss threaders that make the process easier.
It can also be beneficial to use a Proxabrush to get under wires, thereby eliminating possible food particles left behind along with plaque build-up. This will ensure an even cleaner and healthier mouth. Water flossers are another helpful addition to clean debris away from orthodontic appliances.
You can expect professional, unmatched service and guidance in knowing how to protect your smile at Burke & Redford Orthodontists. Between their two locations in Temecula and Lake Elsinore, Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke provide the best orthodontic care and offer complimentary consultations.
How to Care for Your Braces and Oral Health in General
While dental care with braces is usually associated with brushing or flossing around the orthodontic appliances, it is also important to take care in maintaining the braces themselves.
If you or your child have braces and play a sport or engage in more injury prone activities, it is highly recommended a mouth guard be worn to protect the teeth. A sustained fall or being hit in the mouth can not only break off brackets from tooth surfaces, but it may cause more serious oral injuries. If significant enough, these injuries may require further orthodontic work or additional dental care from your general dentist or other dental specialists.
Although normally preventable, there are circumstances where a bracket becomes unglued from a tooth. Other times, wires may shift and become overly long towards the back of your mouth. Telling your orthodontist right away means he can adjust your braces promptly, so you are comfortable. It also ensures treatment progresses without delay.
It is necessary to consistently see your orthodontist throughout the entire process of wearing braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic appliances. Make sure and keep all appointments for adjustments along the way.
What Foods to Eat with Braces
An integral aspect of knowing how to protect your smile is to remember which foods should be eaten and avoided.
Foods that are soft and easy to chew are generally the best option. The foods below are some of the best for keeping your braces in great shape.
- Yogurt and dairy based products
- Soft bread and grains
- Steamed veggies
- Scrambled eggs and pancakes
- Flavored gelatin
- Ice cream/frozen yogurt
Although a diet of strictly soft foods is not always ideal, it is preferred when wearing braces. This is especially true during the first 2-3 days after braces are placed, when teeth are most tender to chewing pressure.
What Foods to Avoid with Braces
While most foods can still be enjoyed while wearing braces, there are a few specific food items that should be avoided during treatment. The brackets could get damaged if overly hard food is eaten, which means treatment time might be extended.
The following food should be avoided:
- Hard or chewy candy
- Hard nuts
- Taffy, licorice, or anything sticky
While they are not categorized as foods, gum and ice should also be avoided. Eating the above foods, especially those that are sticky, can result in food stuck in brackets and wires, which can be difficult to get out.
It is also important to note that regular adjustment of braces might make your mouth a little sore. Being sore is a normal response to orthodontic pressure and occurs with both braces and Invisalign. In a way, soreness should be considered a good thing – it means your teeth are moving and the treatment is working! The level of soreness does tend to decrease as time goes on and with each subsequent adjustment.
If you are interested in the right type of dental care with braces or Invisalign, contact Burke & Redford Orthodontists at (951) 699-8011. Schedule a no-obligation, free consultation. If preferred, you can also fill out the consultation form on our website. We look forward to going over your options for a healthier and improved smile.