How do I clean my teeth if I have braces?

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Orthodontic Dental Therapy
Dip. OHT (Melb), Adv.Dip DentPros (Melb)

Getting braces is a milestone for many people in reaching their dream smile. In order to achieve the best outcome, it is very important to look after your teeth during any orthodontic treatment.

Braces and orthodontic wires are prone to accumulating plaque and food debris, simply because they act as an area for plaque and food to hide and remain trapped. If you don’t maintain good dental hygiene, you may be left with staining, gum disease or decay.

If you wear braces, we encourage you to carry a toothbrush during the day and ensure you follow the recommended tips and techniques below in order to keep your teeth clean and healthy during your orthodontic journey.

Tooth brushing: Electric toothbrushes are great at cleaning around braces and wires, but a manual toothbrush, used with the correct technique, should achieve the same result. When brushing your teeth, it is very important to angle your toothbrush correctly to clean as many surfaces as possible. This should include all surfaces of the brackets and wires, as well as the front, back and chewing surfaces of your teeth. We usually recommend starting with small gentle circles on the gum line, then moving on to brush all surfaces of the braces, wires and teeth. Ideally you should spend 20 to 25 seconds on each tooth and bracket. Sometimes it can be difficult to clean in between each tooth and bracket, therefore we usually recommend a small interproximal brush which can easily manoeuvre in these hard-to-reach areas. You must expect the time taken for your brushing routine to increase with braces. We recommend brushing your teeth and braces with a toothbrush and interdental brush three times a day in order to keep your teeth plaque free and healthy.

braces

Flossing: Flossing is very important during orthodontic treatment, but it can become frustrating due to the wires and brackets. We recommend using either floss threaders or Superfloss in order to pass the dental floss under each wire and then proceed to press the floss down between each tooth. While this process can be time consuming, it is extremely important to remove all the build-up between your teeth and wires. Water flossers can be an easier way to remove any debris between your teeth.

Dental hygiene: We always encourage you to keep up regular dental hygiene visits to your dental hygienist. An experienced dental hygienist should be able to clean around each wire and bracket effectively, as well as keep an eye on your oral and gum health.

If brushing is not maintained during orthodontic treatment, there can be some negative impacts to your teeth and gums. These include gingivitis, white spot lesions and decay.

With braces, you are more prone to developing gingivitis (gum disease). This is due to plaque and debris remaining around the braces and gums for long periods of time, which will start to cause the gums to swell and bleed. If left untreated this can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontisis. It is very important to clean and massage the gums gently with your toothbrush.

Many patients are fearful of developing “squares” on their teeth when their braces are removed. These “squares” are called white spot lesions, and they develop when plaque has accumulated around the brace for long periods of time. The plaque begins to decalcify the tooth and these marks or stains are usually permanent. The only way to avoid these stains is to brush, floss and use your interproximal brush on a daily basis.

dental hygiene

Finally, when plaque remains on your teeth for extended periods of time it can eventually break down the surfaces of your teeth and lead to decay and cavities. The only way to avoid this is to BRUSH!

At your initial appointment to have your braces placed, either your orthodontist or dental hygienist will show you all the key steps in brushing and flossing with braces. It is important to follow the techniques that they teach you throughout your entire orthodontic journey, and when your braces are removed you will have healthy, straight teeth and your ultimate smile!

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