Whether you are 10 years old or 50 years old, brushing with braces can be a challenge. Braces are a great tool in dentistry to help correct bite issues and give you the straight smile that you’ve always wanted, however there are some important things to know about caring for your teeth while braces are on.
Plaque & Braces:
Throughout the day as you eat, drink, and even sleep Plaque is forming on your teeth every day. Plaque is a fuzzy, white substance that is made up of billions of bacteria and is the primary cause of tooth decay, gum swelling, weakening of the enamel, and bad breath. The general rule is to brush 2 times per day, but with braces there are lots of extra places for the plaque to build-up so brushing after every meal is ideal. If all or most of the plaque and food debris is removed throughout the day, it does not have time to cause issues for your teeth and gums.
Brushing with Braces:
There are many types of toothbrushes on the market that are designed for braces that can be very helpful, however as long as your technique is correct a normal toothbrush will work just fine as well. After you select your toothbrush and apply a fluoride toothpaste it is time to begin the brushing process. Start in one section of the mouth and angle the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle pointing toward the gumline.
This will ensure that you are not only brushing the teeth but also reaching the gums at the same time. Gum swelling occurs with nearly every person in braces. Slowly move around the mouth using little circles, ensuring that all surfaces of the teeth are touched, including above and below the brackets. This entire process should take between 2-4 minutes. Braces do wear out toothbrushes quickly so be sure to get a new one when you start to see signs of wear on the bristles.
Even after a thorough brushing plaque and food debris can still be present in between or around the brackets and wires. There are several tools besides a toothbrush that can be helpful with this process.
Blue Indicating Toothpaste:
Many of you may have already watched our video, but there is new blue toothpaste that has been developed for children and adults with braces. Just like the red disclosing tablets that we used in the years past-
This blue toothpaste stains the plaque blue while brushing in order to see the areas that need better brushing.
As your child brushes they will be able to watch the blue disappear and be confident that they thoroughly removed the plaque. This toothpaste is generally only available in dental offices. (Feel free to ask our front desk at your next visit.)
These interdental brushes can be used as a tool, after brushing and flossing, to help remove plaque build up and any food debris present between the wires and brackets. They can be very effective in reaching those commonly missed areas and has been shown to be helpful in reducing gingivitis and weak spots on the teeth.
Just as flossing is key for a healthy smile without braces, it is even more crucial to floss consistently with braces. One of the most common complaints for patients with braces is that flossing is too difficult. Fortunately, there are a few types of flossing tools that can make the process easier. For those that prefer the floss sticks, there is a type that are specifically designed to fit between the wires and the teeth. You can find them at your local store or ask your orthodontist for the “platypus flosser.”
Another commonly used tool for flossing is the floss threader. It creates a stiff end that makes it easier to thread through the wires.
Taking care of your teeth while in braces requires time and effort. Braces won’t damage your teeth, but poor home care habits can. That is why we stress the importance of brushing and flossing, as well as, consistent check-ups with the dentist during your time in braces. If you have any more questions or would like tips at your next visit do not hesitate to ask! We look forward to seeing your beautiful and healthy smile!