Your basic oral hygiene routine that simply involves keeping your teeth clean is one thing, but keeping your braces clean is another. Once you’ve had your braces bonded and your treatment has officially begun, your long term dental hygiene becomes a much more serious and pressing issue.
It’s just a fact that braces require a little more effort, and a little more care! While you’ve likely spent your life simply brushing your teeth morning and night for 2-3 minutes at a time, you’ll now find that this schedule is no longer so relaxed and forgiving. In saying that, it’s all worth it - if you can manage to keep your braces clean in conjunction with the straightening of your teeth, when they finally come off you’ll be overjoyed with your new smile!
There are right ways to take care of your braces, and wrong ways. Below we’re going to talk about how to best clean and maintain your braces, and go over a few things to avoid for the overall health and longevity of your orthodontic appliances.
- Clean Your Brackets and Wires Thoroughly
When it comes time to brush, you should leave no stone unturned - or, more accurately, no tooth unclean! Once you’ve applied your chosen toothpaste to the brush, it’s time to pay careful and specific attention to each individual wire and bracket. Brush carefully and gently over each surface to clear away any remaining food particles, build up, or plaque - brush with enough pressure to ensure they’re clean, but not enough to potentially cause damage.
- Take the Time to Properly Brush and Floss Your Teeth
Keeping your teeth as clean as your brackets becomes increasingly important during treatment, as well. If you pay attention to your brackets but not your teeth, and vice versa, you’re still allowing potential build up in your mouth. This can easily pave the way to excess plaque that could eventually harden into tartar and jeopardize your oral health.
Ideally, you’ll want to brush your teeth following any meal or large snack that you have. This eliminates food’s ability to become trapped and create foul smelling and harmful bacteria that can become trapped in brackets and make for poor hygiene and ineffective upkeep. Failure to stay on top of your hygiene routine may result in extra trips to the dentist for cleanings, checkups, and adjustments.
Flossing isn’t something that can be avoided, either! You should be carefully flossing at least once per day to remove any leftover debris that you may have missed with your toothbrush. If you’re really serious about your oral hygiene, you should make an effort to floss after all or most meals to keep your braces and teeth completely free of any leftover particles.
- Don’t Use Your Teeth As Tools
Have you ever witnessed someone asking for a bottle opener, and then a friend promptly telling them not to worry, and prying the cap off with their teeth? It hurts to watch, right?
Never, ever follow that example! Using your teeth in this way can be extremely damaging, and may send you straight to the dentist for an emergency visit that may concern both your braces, and your natural teeth. Damaging one or more brackets can be extremely painful, and may even impact your treatment timeline - if you want to wrap up your treatment as soon as possible and get to your best smile even faster, always be as gentle as possible with your braces. This includes refraining from even something as small seeming as hard or tougher foods in order to preserve your brackets.
- If You’re An Athlete, Don’t Stop Playing Sports - But Make Sure You Wear Your Mouth Guard
It’s important to keep up with athletics and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even when you’re currently sporting a mouthful of braces. However, the trick to having the best of both worlds is to go about this process carefully and wisely.
Mouth guards are already mandatory for most contact sports, and will become even more important when orthodontic treatment becomes a factor. If you were to take a harder hit than usual, treatment to fix any damage caused to your braces could easily become expensive.
There are actually mouth guards that are created specifically to protect braces. They offer a little more room to fully enclose the extra space, and offer optimal protection against any sort of contact.
The orthodontist assistant will construct a mold and have you bite down on it, much like they would if they were fitting you for a retainer. They will then send it off to a manufacturer, who will create the mouth guard and ensure that it’s created accurately based on the provided measurements.
- Watch What You Eat
Just like you’ll want to protect your braces from contact, you’ll also want to protect them from foods that could potentially be damaging. Orthodontists often rally against their patients eating popcorn when they have metal braces, as hard kernels have the potential to cause a great deal of damage to your brackets.
Softer foods are always best - smoothies, milkshakes, and most dairy will become your best friends during your treatment. These items will make for easy consumption during orthodontic treatment, and won’t let you lose out on any nutritional value.
To give you a better idea of what you should be eating in order to best preserve your braces, we made up this list for you below!
- Pastas and other grains, such as rice
- Breads, as long as they aren’t hard on the outside
- Soft cooked meats such as poultry and ground beef. Tougher items like steak should be avoided unless cooked extremely rare
- You can indulge in favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, as long as everything is cut into bite sized pieces!
- Soups, hot cereals and stews should be your go to!
- Cooked and raw vegetables are perfectly edible, as long as the pieces are small enough to be safe and easy on your braces!
There is a variety of foods that can fit into these categories, so just use your better judgment and avoid anything crunchy, hard, or in too large of pieces to properly break down.
- Always Listen To Your Orthodontist
Your orthodontist will be your guide throughout treatment, and any advice and instructions they give you should be taken into consideration and applied in your everyday life.
After they’ve bonded your braces they will go over everything important with you, from taking care of your braces to what your diet should look like, but their help and advice won’t stop there - they’ll always be around for any questions or concerns you may have. Make sure that you ask them anything that’s on your mind during your check ups, and remember that you can always call the office with questions. They’re there to not only set up your treatment for you, but make sure it goes smoothly!