Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene with Braces: Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Smile

You just got your braces and feel a little overwhelmed, right? There are many new things to adjust to, but you will have a routine memorized in no time! 

First of all, congratulations on a great decision to get started on orthodontic treatment! The amount of time you will devote to braces seems lengthy now, but it will be over before you know it. Your straightened teeth and self-confidence will last a lifetime. And with the tips and tricks below you help ensure that happens.

Your braces or clear aligners must fit into an effective oral hygiene routine. In this article, we will outline how to do that so you don’t end up with dental problems like cavities, stains, and spots on your teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene with braces won’t be difficult, but it will require consistency and dedication to your teeth.

The Importance of Oral Hygiene with Braces

Let’s begin with the basics: Why is oral hygiene even more important when braces or Invisalign aligners are added? You may be wondering what you will have to change and why. 

When braces are put on your teeth, their design creates spaces where food particles can hide between the metal (or ceramic) and your teeth. Sometimes your toothbrush doesn’t reach this food debris if you continue to brush as you always have before the braces. The result of leaving the debris there is a build-up of bacteria. That’s what leads to cavities and gum disease. Being extra diligent when it comes to keeping teeth clean with braces is critical.

Signs of early decay include spots on the teeth where plaque builds up and eats the enamel away. Decay then follows with cavities around the brackets of the braces. Gum inflammation is next, leading to pain and further damage to the teeth and jaws.

This is why your current brushing and flossing regimen must be changed. The main ingredient to this change will be more time spent brushing and cleaning between the teeth. Let’s dive into exactly what you need to keep in mind to properly maintain oral hygiene with braces. 

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene With Braces

Here are some oral hygiene tips and tricks that will promote good oral health with braces:

Adjust Your Brushing and Flossing Technique

It’s no surprise this is first on the list. But the technique needs to change when you have braces. The angle of the toothbrush should be 45 degrees so it will reach around the wires and brackets most effectively. The toothbrush should have soft bristles and make sure to also get an interdental brush or water flosser. Brush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal; buy a travel toothbrush to carry with you if possible. And use waxed floss because it slides easily between your teeth and the braces to remove food particles and plaque. Click here for additional details on proper brushing and flossing techniques for braces.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!

It may seem ineffective, but frequently rinsing your mouth with mouthwash or water helps, especially if you can’t brush. Sip water or mouthwash, swish it vigorously around your teeth, and spit it out. It’s a good technique for washing away as much food as possible in between your sessions of brushing and flossing. 

Don’t Bite on Foreign Objects or Your Nails

Train yourself to be aware when you chew on a pencil, pen, or your fingernails. Any hard object can damage the wires or brackets of your braces. Keep all objects out of your mouth, and then your braces (and your teeth) will be safer.

Protect Your Teeth and Your Braces When Playing Sports

Yes, you can still play! Talk to your orthodontist about a custom mouthguard to protect your braces and your teeth. It will absorb the impact of a blow to the mouth and save you from soft-tissue cuts and broken teeth. 

If you wear clear plastic aligners instead of traditional braces, you will still need a mouthguard. Remove the aligner and use the mouthguard while playing your sport. The aligner isn’t strong enough to properly protect your mouth from injury.

Yes, technically, you can purchase an over-the-counter mouthguard at many stores. Be aware, however, that these products won’t properly fit over your braces and give you the same protection as a mouthguard made for you. You need the tightest fit in your mouth you can get. The OTC mouthguard may seem like a good choice until it doesn’t protect your braces or teeth upon impact. Discuss this with your orthodontist if you have questions.

Eat and Drink to Protect Your Braces

Yes,  you will have to adjust how you eat and drink while wearing braces. Stick to foods like soups, cooked grains, yogurt, pasta, eggs, and other soft foods and drinks. Raw vegetables must be cooked so they are soft enough to eat safely. 

Keep in mind that hard foods can bend the wires and brackets of your braces and sticky foods are hard to remove once they adhere to the metal. Foods like popcorn, pizza crust, corn on the cob, nuts, bagels, and other hard breads can damage your braces. Find out more here about foods to avoid during your orthodontic treatment.

See Your Dentist for Exams and Cleanings

Your regular dental exams and teeth cleanings become more important when you have braces. Your orthodontist visits do not take the place of seeing your dentist, too. Keeping teeth clean with braces is the best thing you can do during your treatment.

Your dentist may want to see you more often while your braces are in place. This also gives your dentist the chance to identify hygiene issues early before damage is done.

Perfect Your Oral Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment & Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

Knowing how to clean teeth with braces properly is the best way to protect your overall oral hygiene. Your routine must be adjusted to remove all bits of food behind and around the wires and brackets of the braces. You will still need to see your dentist for check-ups and cleanings to monitor your progress and promptly address any problems. The time and effort you spend now will pay off for a lifetime.

Here at Reed & Sahlaney Orthodontics, we can give you a confident, beautiful smile while also helping to ensure you know exactly how to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy during the process.

Contact us today!