Now that your new hardware is in place, you’ll want to take care of it so you can achieve a healthy, beautiful smile without any delays or issues like cavities. We promise, it won’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. With a few changes and some extra attention to oral hygiene and what you eat, everything will run smoothly.
It’s super important to maintain good oral hygiene while you’re wearing braces so your smile looks dazzling when they come off. Brackets, wires and bands can all trap food particles and plaque. To avoid tooth decay, gum disease and stains, you should brush in the morning, after every meal and snack, and before bed and floss at least once a day, preferably at night. You should also add an antibacterial mouthwash and topical fluoride treatment to the mix. If you’re out and about and don’t have access to your toothbrush, rinse your mouth really well with water after eating and brush as soon as you get home.
A dental rinse like Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouthwash, can help with minor gum and cheek inflammation, irritation from orthodontic appliances and preventing infection. It can also cleanse canker sores and mouth injuries. Rinse with two teaspoons, or half a capful, of Peroxyl for one minute and then spit it out. You can use it up to four times daily.
Phos-Flur Gel, available with a prescription, is a sodium fluoride treatment that helps prevent tooth decay while you’re wearing braces. It kills bacteria and replaces minerals in the tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. Using Phos-Flur doesn’t take the place of brushing. You’ll apply it after you brush your teeth before bed each night. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on your toothbrush and paint it on your teeth. Leave it there for one minute and then rinse it out. Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after using it so the active ingredient can do its thing.
Brushing With Braces
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste:
- Start with the outside of the teeth. Hold the brush at a straight angle and use circular, vibrating motions. Be sure to brush along the gum line as well.
- Clean the area between the gums and the braces by angling the brush down for the upper teeth and up for the lower teeth. Keep moving in small, circular motions.
- Do the opposite to reach the other side of your braces by angling the brush up for the top teeth and down for the bottom teeth.
- Carefully brush the chewing surfaces of all of your teeth.
- Finish by brushing the inside of your teeth.
We recommend an interdental toothbrush such as Proxabrush to really get underneath and around your wires and brackets. Be gentle to avoid damaging your wires.
Flossing With Braces
Your toothbrush can’t reach every nook and cranny, which is why flossing daily is essential. Here’s how:
- Thread waxed dental floss through a floss threader.
- Push the end of the floss threader under the archwire and pull the floss through.
- Guide the floss up between a pair of teeth and gently move it up and down the sides of both teeth all the way up to the gums.
- Pull the floss out and use a different section of it for the next set of teeth.
- Don’t forget the back molars!
We also recommend all our patients use the Waterpik® Aquarius water flosser. It is clinically proven to be more effective at removing food stuck between your teeth than string floss and achieves maximum plaque removal. Because it’s so effective at removing major pieces stuck between your teeth, brushing and flossing become much more efficient. We call it a power wash for the mouth. Trust us, your teeth will thank you for it!
Foods to Avoid
While in braces, you can still eat pretty much everything you did before with a few exceptions. Believe us, it will all be worth it in the end when you have perfectly straight teeth. Anything that can damage your braces (think hard, crunchy or sticky) or get stuck and cause inflammation should be avoided or at least eaten with extreme care.
It’s also important to minimize things that have a high sugar content, like ice cream and cookies, because they can cause cavities. Limit yourself to one sugary drink per day.
Your teeth might be a little sensitive for a few days after getting your braces put on and following adjustments. Stick to soft foods, such as yogurt, soup and applesauce, until the discomfort subsides. Cold drinks will also do wonders for an aching mouth.
Stay away from:
- Pizza crust
- Hard rolls
- Hard taco shells
- Corn on the cob (off the cob is totally fine)
- Raw apples or carrots (cut them into bite-sized pieces)
There aren’t too many true orthodontic emergencies. However, the occasional mishap can crop up during treatment. Thankfully, most of them can be handled at home, at least temporarily. Be sure to give our office a call and we’ll get you in for a repair appointment. In the meantime, try some of these tips.
If you have a loose bracket, give us a ring so we can get your bracket re-fitted right away. If the bracket is towards the back of your mouth, and it’s a night or weekend, you can slide it off the wire. If a long piece of wire is sticking out after, very carefully use nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol to snip the excess wire. If the bracket is in the front or middle of your mouth, dry it off with a tissue or piece of cotton, roll a small bit of dental wax between your fingers and then place it over the bracket to avoid irritation.
If a wire is poking you, try to move it out of the way with the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab. If it won’t move, dry it off with a tissue or piece of cotton and cover it with dental wax. If the wire is really long, you can carefully cut it with nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If none of that helps, contact us for an appointment.
Hey, it happens. In fact, most patients lose a separator at some point during their treatment, so don’t worry. Just call the office to see if it needs to be replaced.
During the first week after your braces are put on, and after routine adjustments, you may feel some slight discomfort. You can take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers until the soreness subsides. Placing a warm washcloth or heating pad on your jaws might also help.