If you have braces, there may be few other times in your life when proper tooth brushing is so important.
Brushing with braces isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to be that difficult either. The key is knowing the right way to brush when you have braces on your teeth and knowing what to avoid too!
Brushing with braces Key #1
When brushing with braces, be sure and use the right tool for the job. In this case, it’s a soft-bristled brush or an electric toothbrush made specifically for braces wearers. You should brush for a minimum of two minutes and brush all sides of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush the tongue and roof of your mouth too.
Also… make sure you replace your toothbrush or brush head no less than every three months. When you have braces, you naturally get more food and plaque trapped in your mouth some of the time. And for those “sometimes”, for too long a time. This can mean when you do brush your teeth, you are transferring that plaque (bacteria) and food to your toothbrush.
Brushing with braces Key #2
Brushing harder is not always better. This is especially true with braces, for several reasons. First, you don’t want to knock brackets loose. This just creates the need for extra visits and it can throw your treatment schedule off track. Additionally, part of the process that enables braces to straighten your teeth effectively, involves the cementum around your gums. This is a protective covering that protects the root of the teeth and it is constantly regenerating as your teeth move in their sockets to align the bite. Brushing too vigorously can destroy cementum at the wrong time, result in prolonged treatment as well.
Brushing with braces Key #3
While you don’t want to brush too hard, you don’t want to brush too soft either. With braces, it’s easy for plaque to get stuck underneath the wires. Over time, this can discolor or damage the teeth. Plaque should – ideally – be removed from braces a couple of times a day. This is especially true after meals. Your braces create hiding places for plaque.
Aside from discoloration, this hidden plaque can also promote cavities. If you are noticing you have swollen gums or bad breath, you might have hidden plaque and need to see your dentist or orthodontist to see what needs to be done before it has the chance to create cavities or permanent marks on the teeth.
Flossing with braces…
Okay… so flossing isn’t really brushing. However, it should be part of your tooth brushing – or dental care – routine. It can be a little tricky to floss between the wires but it is really important you learn how to do it. A floss threader may help or there are even special little cleaners with brushes you can use that work just like floss to get plaque and food out from around and between the teeth.
Furthermore, when you are wearing braces, you should floss at least twice a day and after every time you eat. At the very bare minimum, you need to floss morning and night. Be sure to floss first and then brush. Flossing helps to detach anything that is stuck between your teeth and/or braces and brushing helps to carry it away from your teeth and out of your mouth!
Visit the dentist to make sure all is well…
Some patients think they don’t need to visit the dentist as often (or at all!) when they are wearing braces. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Your dentist can make sure you are brushing and flossing correctly and catch any problems early. Additionally, the dental assistant / hygienist / dental tech can help give the teeth a really good cleaning that will also help to prevent other problems down the road.