Nearly one-half of all children and teens need braces to straighten teeth, research shows. The good news is that the results can normally be seen within a short period of time — and if you practice the appropriate oral care habits, they can last a lifetime.
However, it is still important to remember that oral hygiene is even more critical once your braces have been fitted – to avoid gum disease and cavities.
Why do Braces Place You at a Higher Risk of Developing Problems with Your Teeth and Gums?
While braces will inevitably straighten teeth, they might also lead to a handful of unintended consequences. Food particles can easily become trapped around the brackets and beneath any connective wires.
If not removed, these particles will create bacteria that can harm your gums and teeth. Gingivitis and cavities may appear over time as a result.
However, you might find it difficult to brush and floss around the braces themselves. This is why oral hygiene should never be taken for granted when undergoing any type of orthodontic treatment.
A Look at Proper Oral Care When You’ve Got Braces
A bit of common sense and discipline will go a long way when caring for your teeth and gums.
Experts recommend brushing your teeth immediately after you have finished a meal. This is the best way to remove particulate matter that might otherwise stick to the appliances.
Be sure to brush the gumline, paying particular attention to the areas around the brackets and beneath the connecting wires. Brushing at a 45-degree angle will also help to address hard to-reach locations.
If you do not have access to a toothbrush, rinse out your mouth with water for between 30 seconds and one minute.
What About Flossing?
Traditional floss might not be able to access areas between your teeth and close to the gumline (due to the presence of brackets and wires). If you find flossing difficult, it is better to purchase an interdental brush.
This brush will address cracks and gaps around your teeth. A water flosser might also be useful to consider, especially if your gums have become sensitive as a result of the ongoing treatment (somewhat common during the first few weeks).
The Benefits of Mouthwash
Antibacterial mouthwash represents another powerful tool within your arsenal. Did you know that rinsing for no longer than 30 seconds will kill more than 99.9 percent of all bacteria?
There are plenty of tasty flavours available and mouthwash will also provide a fresh and clean feeling for hours at a time. This is likewise a great on-the-go option if you are unable to brush or floss.
Keep on Top of Dental and Orthodontic Appointments
Life can become hectic on occasion. As a result, it is easy to forego a dental or orthodontic appointment. This will place you at a much greater risk of developing oral health issues.
Continue seeing a professional on a regular basis — and if you feel that a problem exists, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. More serious issues might otherwise develop within a short period of time.
Dietary Advice During Your Orthodontic Treatment
We need to remember that proper oral hygiene is only part of the equation. The health of your teeth and gums will also be impacted by your dietary habits.
Of course, try to avoid foods high in refined sugar at all costs. Sugars will erode the enamel of your teeth and increase the chances of developing cavities. The same holds true for sugary drinks such as soda.
If you still wish to address stubborn cravings, it is better to opt for foods containing natural sweeteners (a bowl of fruit is a great example). Once again, be sure to brush after every meal or snack.
Another important recommendation is related to the braces themselves. As you might have imagined, the brackets and wires tend to attract sticky substances. It will therefore be much more difficult to brush and floss. Here are some additional foods to remove from your diet:
- Popcorns (the kernels can be notoriously challenging to remove)
Most professionals also suggest abstaining from hard candies and substances (such as ice) that might damage the attached brackets. This is actually a wise all-around recommendation, as hard materials can easily chip or crack your teeth.
Developing a Healthy Routine
Whether you are a teenager or a young adult, braces still represent the most effective ways to straighten teeth and to guarantee an even bite. However, it can be challenging to become accustomed to their presence (particularly during the first few weeks).
Oral care could also be slightly overwhelming. The good news is that all of the suggestions outlined above are easy to implement.
On a final note, a healthy smile is not associated with aesthetics alone. Brushing, flossing, avoiding unhealthy foods, and using mouthwash on a daily basis are the best ways to guarantee that you will be pleased with the final results.
If you have more questions or you would like to address specific concerns, make it a point to consult with your dentist or orthodontist. He or she will provide the answers that you are looking for.