A healthy, straight smile is the end result for all teeth straightening treatments. Whether you are starting orthodontic treatment with braces or have chosen to opt for aligners, you’ll achieve a straight even smile. How soon we get there does depend on much of the work that you do yourself in front of the bathroom mirror. When you start treatment, you’ll find this out pretty quickly as we always make sure that patients starting orthodontic treatment are fully aware of the extra measures they’ll need to take to keep their mouths healthy while treatment is underway. It is a lot to take in which is why we’ve put together this handy blog so you can refer back.
Why is it so important to keep your braces clean?
This may sound like an obvious question. Teeth cleaning is one of the first hygiene routines each of us performs every day so we know the answer. Bacteria accumulates on the teeth constantly while we go about our daily lives. Cleaning our teeth regularly, twice a day for two minutes, will keep control of our oral hygiene. We scrub away plaque that builds up, deposits formed by bacteria, and as a result keep our gums healthy as we protect them from gum disease through removing the bacteria.
With braces however, cleaning is more of a challenge and you have to do it a lot more regularly. Metal and ceramic braces in particular can become breeding grounds for bacteria if we’re not brushing the brackets and wires carefully enough to remove all food deposits that could get lodged in place.
The reason why you need to stay on top of cleaning your brace is to protect your teeth and gums. If bacteria does become an issue, you can end up with buildups of tartar around the braces themselves. This leaves marks on the teeth which you really do want to avoid. Gum disease can also develop and, while you’re having teeth straightening, you want your gums to be as healthy as possible.
How best to clean your teeth when you have braces
On top of cleaning your teeth twice a day, you’ll have to brush your teeth after every main meal. This is the best way to make sure you keep your teeth clear of pesky bits of food that get stuck between the brackets and the wires. Having braces does mean you have to get used to carrying your toothbrush and toothpaste with you - especially to work. It’s an easy routine to get into and will make sure that your braces remain as bacteria-free as possible.
Brushing around brackets and wires can be fiddly. Lingual braces especially need some attention where the orthodontic work is more complex. We can provide specially brushes with smaller heads that can help clear away any bits of food debris that have become lodged in the braces.
We also recommend that you change to a softer brush when you have braces. Take care to not brush too aggressively as you could accidentally damage a bracket or dislodge a wire. If this does happen - don’t worry. Using dental wax, you can cover up any sharp edges and then drop us a line. Don’t try to repair the brace yourself. We’ll fix it up for you as soon as we can.
You may want to get some mouthwash as part of your dental routine. Rinse around the mouth after you’ve finished brushing your teeth to get rid of bacteria and smaller molecules of sugar that might have been missed.
Looking after your gum health while you have braces
It’s not just your teeth that we’re concerned about when you have braces fitted. Your entire oral health contributes to the treatment - including your gums. The healthier your gums are, the more effective your straightening treatment will be. The only thing, of course, is that flossing becomes tricky when you have braces in the way. Interdental brushes are a good alternative to cleaning between teeth and getting to those hard-to-reach areas.
Why do you need dental checkups and hygiene visits while having brace treatment?
Even though you’re already seeing your dentist or orthodontist for your straightening treatment, you’ll still need to visit for your routine check-ups. These check-ups will give us a chance to review how healthy your teeth and gums are.
Even more important are your trips to the hygienist. As cleaning is more of a challenge with braces, your hygienist can help get into those areas that aren’t as easy to brush. This is the very best defence against plaque and tartar developing around the braces. Hygienist appointments also review the health of your gums and look for any signs of gum disease.
How to clean aligners and retainers
If you’re benefiting from aligners, such as Spark aligners or Invisalign, cleaning is a lot more straightforward. As you can remove your aligners when you eat, there’s nothing stuck to your teeth where food can become stuck. However, you will still need to brush your teeth after a meal before you put your aligners back on. This makes sure that your teeth under the aligners are bacteria-free and are in an environment where bacteria can thrive with all those sugary deposits creating perfect spaces to develop.
You’ll also need to clean your aligners and retainers. This is easy enough with a toothbrush and a little toothpaste. Never use hot water when cleaning as you’ll cause the plastic to warp and deform. Use the same temperature as you would for your teeth. It’s also a good idea to change to a soft-bristled toothbrush so you don’t damage your aligner and retainer.
Any other questions? Just get in touch
Something about your brace treatment bothering you? Don’t sit on it. We’re here to help. Give us a call on 02087319020 or drop us a line using our contact form. Our team are here to give advice and help on how best to look after your braces and teeth while you’re having treatment. If you’re encountering any soreness where the brace is rubbing, get in touch. You may need to apply some dental wax in the meantime which you can buy at most health shops.
Has a wire broken off or a bracket come loose? Get in touch with us right away and we can sort it out. Whatever you do, don’t try to fix yourself. Put on some dental wax which you should have received when you started the treatment. You can drop by our practice if you’re in the area to save time.