Guide to Oral Care for Braces Wearers
Just got started on braces? Here’s how to care for them.
Maintaining good oral health while wearing orthodontic braces
Teeth can become more susceptible to staining if you’re wearing braces as proper oral hygiene can be difficult to maintain due to the nooks and crannies created by the wires and brackets of fixed metal braces, where food debris can become trapped and provide a breeding ground for bacteria.
However, it’s still possible to keep your teeth white while wearing braces if you know the right techniques for brushing and flossing during your orthodontic treatment.
Avoiding teeth staining when you have braces also entails measures such as cutting out certain foods and drinks, and if you’re a smoker,kicking the habit. Regular professional cleanings and dental check-ups during will also go a long way towards keeping your teeth white.
How teeth become stained when you’re wearing braces
Traditional metal braces have an intricate design of wires and brackets that can trap food, resulting in an accumulation of bacterial plaque.
If this plaque is not removed, it can create acids that draw minerals out of your tooth enamel. This alters how the surface of your teeth reflects light, leading to the appearance of unsightly stains. It can also cause tooth decay and gum disease.
This is why orthodontic patients need to pay special attention to their oral hygiene routine.
Oral Hygiene When Wearing Braces
It is Important to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene While Undergoing Braces
Effective brushing and flossing will be much easier once your braces have straightened your teeth. Meanwhile, though, your braces can become a magnet for bacteria and make it hard to maintain optimum dental health and keep your teeth white.
Whether you have braces or not, dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing daily – at least. Ideally, you would brush after each meal and snack. If you can’t do this, drinking plenty of water and rinsing your mouth will help to get rid of food debris.
If you wear braces, a toothpaste containing fluoride to fortify dental enamel will be particularly beneficial. Remember, too, that flossing is just as important as brushing, and can remove up to 80 percent of plaque.
An antiseptic mouthwash with fluoride will reduce the risk of gum infection that may develop from braces, while an antibacterial rinse will kill germs.
Effective brushing and flossing if you have braces will take more time but is crucial to get the best outcome from your orthodontic treatment.
How to Brush When Wearing Braces
You should brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Rinsing your mouth before brushing will help to loosen any bits of food in and around your braces.
Brushing properly to keep your teeth white when wearing braces entails:
- Cleaning the gum line, with the brush head angled at 45 degrees.
- Brushing the upper section of your braces by angling your brush downwards.
- Cleaning the lower part of your braces, brushing at an upwards angle.
- Brushing the front of each tooth.
- Brushing the back of each tooth.
- Brushing the biting surfaces of your teeth.
After brushing, rinsing with an antiseptic or antibacterial mouthwash containing fluoride will help to avoid infection and ease any irritation from your braces.
Some electric toothbrushes have special orthodontic brush heads to help keep your teeth white when wearing braces. Electric brushes are more effective than standard toothbrushes in removing surface stains to give you a whiter smile.
Electric brushes make it easier to remove food and bacteria trapped around brackets and under wires, and studies show they can get rid of a lot more plaque than a manual brush.
How to Floss When Wearing Braces
When flossing while wearing braces, you need to make sure you get beneath the wires and between the brackets of your braces.
Using waxed floss with a threader may help you to slide the floss into your gum line without getting it caught on your braces.
Important points to remember when flossing when you have braces are:
- Use a strand of floss about 45 centimetres long.
- Carefully thread the floss beneath the main wire of your braces and then slide it between two teeth.
- Avoid snapping the floss – guide it up and down gently against the side of each tooth.
Should You Brush or Floss First When Wearing Braces?
You may be unaware that the sequence in which you brush and floss can have a big impact on your oral health and keeping your teeth white.
After some debate, studies appear to indicate that flossing first is the best way to remove bits of food, bacteria and plaque that build up on teeth and gums and on braces.
Another argument for flossing before brushing is that fluoride in toothpaste will make better contact after food stuck between your teeth has been removed by flossing, and the mineral is likely to stay in your mouth longer.
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger and can also reverse early stages of cavities.
What to Eat and Drink When Wearing Braces
Wearing braces almost always means you need to change your eating habits.
Hard, sticky foods can damage your braces while others – such as dairy products and fish – are easier to manage and play an important role in maintaining a nutritious diet.
Dental professionals are particularly concerned about the damage that acidic and sugary foods and drinks can do to tooth enamel. While many foods high in acid are good for your body overall, low-acidic foods are better for your teeth, especially when wearing braces, and will help to keep your teeth white.
Foods and drinks to avoid because of high acidity and/or high sugar levels include:
- Barbecue sauces.
- Fruit drinks.
- Carbonated drinks.
- Sports drinks.
Foods and drinks good for both your braces and your teeth include:
- Plain water.
How Smoking Affects Orthodontic Treatment
Besides acidic and sugary foods and drinks, smoking is also a big culprit of stained teeth – along with increased risk of serious diseases. Nicotine and tar in tobacco – whether you smoke or chew it – turns teeth yellow and can stain your braces.
Using tobacco products can also adversely affect the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment. Oral bones and tissues need to be free from disease during orthodontic treatment. Tobacco heightens the danger of gum disease that results in tooth and bone loss, which can render your braces ineffective.
As well as helping to keep your teeth white while wearing braces, quitting smoking or other tobacco use will also:
- Significantly reduce the threat of cancer and heart disease.
- Improve your sense of taste and smell.
- Give you fresher breath.
Professional Dental Cleanings When Wearing Braces
Getting professional cleanings from your dentist becomes even more important if you have braces, which can easily trap food particles.
A dental cleaning when wearing braces is pretty much the same as a routine cleaning, although your dentist or dental hygienist will take extra care to avoid damage to your braces, and this can slightly lengthen treatment time.
While most dental clinics will work around the wires and brackets of braces, using a smaller brush, some may prefer to remove the wires first.
The cleaning also typically includes application of fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel, and scaling to eliminate any plaque and tartar build-ups – if plaque has calcified into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental professional
Another benefit of dental cleanings during orthodontic treatment is that it helps to avoid cavities, which can prolong your time in braces.
Can I Get Teeth Whitening Treatment While Wearing Braces?
If you have fixed metal braces – the most common type in Singapore – it’s recommended you wait until your orthodontic treatment is completed before getting your teeth whitened by your dentist.
Whitening your teeth while wearing braces can result in uneven shades because the whitening agent may be unable to reach the areas where your brackets are covering your teeth.
However, many orthodontic patients choose to get their teeth whitened once their braces come off.
Professional teeth whitening is faster and more effective than over-the-counter products like whitening toothpastes and bleaching agents.
A single tooth whitening treatment usually takes less than an hour and avoids the need for repeat applications of whitening products.
After your braces are removed, your teeth may feel a little sensitive for a while, so you might want to wait before having your teeth whitened so they can regain their strength and adjust to life without braces.
How to Keep Your Teeth White After Braces Treatment in Singapore
Looking after your teeth and gums is essential after your braces have been removed if you want the best results from your orthodontic treatment – healthy, straight teeth and a sparkling smile revealing your white teeth.
A good routine of oral hygiene, supported by preventive measures such as dental check-ups and professional cleanings, can help to ensure your teeth stay straight and gleaming.
And don’t forget that you’ll need to wear your retainers as instructed by your dentist. This is imperative to prevent your newly aligned teeth from shifting back out of place.
So, What’s Next?
If you’ve got more questions on how to maintain your oral hygiene while undergoing braces treatment, you can can book an appointment with your existing dentist or contact us to speak to one of our dentists.
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