Proper care and hygiene is important for all of us, but it can be especially important to pay extra attention to maintaining healthy teeth and gums with braces. Wearing orthodontics presents a few challenges, but a little care can go a long way in making sure your teeth are not only straight, but that your gums are healthy, too.
It might be a little more challenging to prevent plaque buildup and avoid cavities while wearing braces, but it is possible with just a little extra care. Make sure to brush your teeth after every meal and that your toothbrush cleans around your brackets, as well as all surfaces of your teeth.
Flossing might be more challenging with braces, but it is just as important. There is a simple, inexpensive tool available that looks like a large, plastic needle that aids in threading the floss under the arch wire and between the teeth. Many patients find these floss threaders to be quite helpful.
Fluoride has been added to our water supply and to dental products because of its ability to reduce the formation of plaque and prevent cavities. It also works to strengthen tooth enamel that is worn away as a result of eating acidic foods. Your dentist can prescribe you a toothpaste with more fluoride to keep your teeth in good shape with braces.
Keep in mind that while wearing braces, you need to be mindful that some foods can loosen, bend, or break your orthodontic appliances. The following foods should be avoided: hard, sticky candy, corn on the cob, popcorn, nuts, and hard foods like taco shells and chips. Chewing gum and ice can also cause problems. Cutting hard foods like raw carrots and apples into small bites prevents damage.
High-acid foods can damage tooth enamel over time, so it is best to focus on lower-acid foods such as bananas, cantaloupe, grapes, peaches, apples, watermelon, chicken, fish, oatmeal, brown rice, and most vegetables.
Following the care instructions provided by your orthodontist will make your mouth more comfortable. If you experience pain after an adjustment, gargling with warm salt water for a few minutes may offer some relief. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of warm water and swish without swallowing. It’s also important to continue going to your regular dental checkups as well.
Braces can make life a little more challenging, but with proper care and attention, you can keep healthy teeth and gums with braces in an effort to contribute to a beautiful smile.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver and often writes about family, health, home and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing. Informational credit to Mar Orthodontics.