How often should I brush my teeth with braces?
As orthodontists, we can use different types of braces and appliances to give you a straight, perfectly aligned smile. The work of keeping your teeth sparkling white, however, it up to up. Caring for your teeth while wearing orthodontic appliances may take a little extra effort, but the results will be worth it when your braces finally come off.
Why Is Proper Oral Hygiene Important for Braces Wearers?
Braces represent a significant commitment of both time and money. The last thing you want is to have all of your hard work derailed by poor oral hygiene. While braces themselves do not damage your teeth, the brackets and wires can trap food particles and bacteria that can cause a variety of dental issues, including bad breath, cavities, and plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky substance containing bacteria that can coat the teeth, gums, tongue, and dental appliances within hours of eating.
- In the early stages, plaque buildup can cause the gums to become red and swollen. The gums may also bleed slightly during brushing. This is referred to as gingivitis.
- Periodontitis occurs when the inflammation and infection become so severe that they affect the bones and ligaments responsible for supporting the teeth. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, which allows pockets to develop that accumulate even more plaque.
- Improper oral hygiene can also lead to decalcifications, which are permanent stain marks that develop around the braces.
When You Should Brush
The only way to remove plaque is by brushing your teeth. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after each meal and before going to bed. We recommend that you carry a travel toothbrush to make cleaning your braces easy and convenient. If you find yourself in a situation where brushing is not an option, you should at least give your mouth a good rinse with water. At a minimum, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day.
What About Flossing?
Brushing alone will not prevent plaque buildup. You should also floss at least once a day to clean those areas where the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach. It is true that the wires can make flossing challenging, but your orthodontist can recommend products to make the job easier, such as floss threaders and Proxabrush Cleaners.
Proper Brushing for Braces Wearers
To get your teeth as clean as possible, it is important to start out with the right equipment.
- As a general rule, we do not recommend electric toothbrushes for braces wearers. They can be hard to maneuver, and the bristles can get caught in the wires and brackets.
- If you use a standard toothbrush, you will need to make sure that you angle the bristles up as you use an up and down brushing motion to ensure that you are able to clean over the braces thoroughly.
- An interdental toothbrush is the best option for individuals with braces. These brushes feature an angled, triangle-shaped brush that can effectively clean all sides of the teeth and braces.
You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes each time. It is still important to brush the fronts, backs, sides, and chewing surfaces of your teeth along with your tongue and the roof of your mouth. When you are finished, your teeth should feel smooth and clean, and you should be able to see the edges of your brackets clearly.
Other Tips for Caring for Your Teeth While Wearing Braces
- Your braces will wear down the bristles of your toothbrush faster than normal, so you may have to replace your brush more often than every three months. You should change brushes anytime the bristles appear frayed or bent.
- To prevent cavities, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- If recommended by your orthodontist, use an over-the-counter or prescription fluoride rinse in addition to brushing and flossing.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months or as recommended by your orthodontist.
- Avoid sugary foods and beverages. These foods and drinks coat the teeth with a sugary residue that can accelerate the bacteria growth that can lead to decay and gum disease. If you cannot resist the occasional soda, you should drink through a straw so that the majority of the drink bypasses the teeth.
We also recommend carrying a portable dental care kit so that you can keep your teeth clean no matter where you are. Items to include in your kit include:
- a toothbrush or battery-powered oral irrigator,
- interdental cleaners,
- travel-sized toothpaste, and
- travel-sized mouthwash.
Call Gorton and Schmohl Orthodontics Today
If you live in Larkspur, Calif., then you can schedule an appointment at Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics where we have three orthodontists to help you, including:
• Dr. Jasmine Gorton
• Dr. Bill Schmohl
• Dr. Jeff Nichelini
An orthodontist will have a consultation with you to discuss your treatment that might include:
• Braces – WildSmile brackets and wires in fun colors
• Damon Clear – clear brackets
• Retainers – to keep teeth in place after treatment
• Invisalign – customized plastic aligners
Our patients are treated using the Wow Smiles system that creates a unique smile for your face. Call us today at 415-459-8006 to schedule your first appointment.
How often should I brush my teeth with braces?
Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 200 Larkspur, California 94939