Proper Dental Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment
Maintaining proper hygiene at all times is important to keep your teeth strong and healthy. But it’s even more important during orthodontic treatment. Part of the caveats and challenges that come with orthodontic treatment is keeping your teeth clean and healthy while trying to achieve the desired alignment.
Braces (traditional or modern clear aligners) require following specific instructions. These instructions apply to what you eat, how you eat, and how you brush or clean your teeth afterward. In this article, we’ll explore some of the things our orthodontists at OMG Smiles recommend for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment with us to help them keep their teeth healthy during their treatment.
Importance of Dental Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment
During orthodontic treatment, you may notice your teeth starting to discolor, especially in the region surrounding the fixed brackets. But discoloration is the least of your worries. Braces, wires, and other orthodontic appliances create additional nooks and crannies where food particles and plaque can accumulate behind your teeth. Plaque is a type of sticky film formed over the teeth and contains microorganisms.
A buildup of plaque on your teeth allows bacteria that are normally present in the mouth to multiply and bind together on your tooth surface. The bacterial colonies will continue to multiply as plaque builds up, making it difficult to get rid of them. When you fail to maintain proper hygiene during your orthodontic treatment, plaque buildup can lead to issues such as cavities and gum disease. These issues will not only prolong the duration of your treatment but also affect your teeth long after your orthodontic treatment is completed.
How To Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment
Know the Foods to Avoid
At the start of your orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist in Waterbury will tell you about all the foods you need to avoid entirely or limit during your orthodontic treatment. Following this instruction is vital since the foods you eat can play a major role in how your treatment progresses and the health of your teeth afterward.
For instance, you’re expected to avoid sugary foods during your teeth as they tend to get stuck to your bracket, causing tooth decay and other issues. Other common foods that are off-limits during orthodontic treatment include popcorn, nuts, hard candy, ice, taffy, gum, and so on. For patients with Invisalign, the list of foods to avoid is less strict since you can simply remove your aligners before eating anything. Still, some of the items on this list are already unhealthy for your teeth, so avoiding them entirely during your treatment is not a bad idea.
Although there are no strict rules about how often you should brush your teeth during your treatment, you’ll have to do it more often than you used to do before. On average, we recommend brushing your teeth and gums at least five times during the day. You can spread this out during the day as you wish. But a practical schedule you can follow is to brush when you wake up, after each meal, and before you go to bed. Each session should last for at least five minutes and must be thorough.
In addition to following this routine diligently, the following are some of the basic supplies you’ll need to brush your teeth properly:
- Soft-bristle toothbrush: A toothbrush with soft bristles is less likely to damage your braces, teeth, and gums.
- Interdental brush: This is a tiny brush designed to clean in between braces and wires. The major advantage of this type of brush is that it can get into places where regular toothbrushes might not reach.
- Floss threader or orthodontic floss: A floss threader or orthodontic floss allows you to floss effectively around braces and wires.
- Antibacterial mouthwash: After brushing, you should rinse your teeth with an antimicrobial mouthwash to further control bacteria in your mouth.
Brush Your Teeth Properly
It’s not enough to follow a strict brushing routine; knowing the proper technique ensures that you’re brushing your teeth properly. You’ll need to use the right technique to get rid of plaque that might be building up behind your braces. Start by brushing over the top of your band and brackets at an angle. Aim right at your teeth, but also brush beneath the bracket with a back-and-forth motion. You should also brush the biting surface of your teeth as well as the insides of the teeth close to your tongue. Finally, brush your gums using a gentle circular motion.
Flossing Your Teeth
You need to floss regularly (at least once a day) as part of your dental care routine during your orthodontic treatment. The process of doing this isn’t considerably different from what you would do if you didn’t have braces on. The only difference here is that the floss has to be threaded under the arch, so it goes between your teeth. Follow the steps below to floss your teeth effectively:
- Step 1: Thread the floss under the wire of your braces
- Step 2: Remove the threader
- Step 3: Carefully floss each side of your tooth, then pull the floss out. You’ll have to repeat this for each of your teeth to remove any food particles or plaque stuck under the archwires or in the space between your teeth.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
Regular dental appointments are part of oral care during your orthodontic treatment. Don’t skip them! Your orthodontist and dentist will work together to ensure your oral health remains in top condition throughout your treatment. Regardless of the type of orthodontic device you get, you’ll have to visit the orthodontist on a routine to get your brackets adjusted or to switch your Invisalign tray. The orthodontist will also track the progress of your treatment. Going for regular dental checkups and keeping up with your orthodontist will ensure that any issues are caught in time and fixed accordingly.
At OMG Smiles, one of our top priorities is to make sure patients are educated on how to properly care for their teeth and braces throughout the treatment. Aligning your teeth can take several months or even years. Taking care of your teeth throughout your treatment keeps them in good shape and also ensures that the treatment progresses on schedule. If you have any other questions or would like to learn more about proper dental hygiene during orthodontic treatment, call now or contact us online to talk to a professional.