Braces are dental tools used to correct a variety of problems with your teeth including crowding, crooked teeth, or teeth that are out of alignment. Braces have many areas for food to get trapped increasing the build-up of plaque, making dental hygiene doubly important. Plaque build-up can cause a variety of dental problems including stained teeth, gum disease, and cavities. Here’s how to care for your teeth while you have braces.
Brushing with braces is a little more difficult than usual but it’s doable and you get used to it. If you have braces, it’s a good idea to follow the two-by-two plan – brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Use fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard bristles will irritate already sensitive teeth. If you’re able to get one, the best type of toothbrush to use is a V-shaped one because it cleans better. Make sure you brush the area under the brace/bracket using back and forth movements as well as light circular movements.
After brushing, flossing is the next critical action when you have braces. Floss under the arch and between the teeth using gentle sliding motions to avoid damaging the gums. The downside of flossing is it’s time-consuming and the floss can get tangled, so you need to use small sections and be careful. Consider buying an orthodontic flosser to make it easier to floss under the wires. Waxed floss glides better and is less likely to snap on your braces.
Rinsing with mouthwash ensures that any harmful bacteria left behind in your mouth and braces. Ask your dentist for recommendations on what to use as mouthwash whether you purchase it or make your own.
Dental wax is used to heal wounds on the cheeks and lips that appear from rubbing. You can keep some at hand and use it to correct any fixation issues that are causing discomfort. Just knead a small amount then apply it to the affected area. The wax tastes and smells good, so at least there’s that.
Check the mirror
Stop and check out your smile and braces to make sure there aren’t any stubborn food particles left behind after cleaning.
Schedule regular appointments
Regularly visit your orthodontist and dentist. This will allow them to adjust the braces accordingly and allow them to spot any potential issues.
Watch for dangerous habits
Certain habits and activities can damage braces. Such habits include chewing on things like pen caps and fingernails. You can still play sports with braces on but it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. The mouthguard protects the soft tissues including the lips and cheeks.
Avoid biting into foods, instead, cut food with a fork or knife to break it into smaller pieces before eating. Biting food directly can damage the wires on the braces and in the case of something like meat, sinking your teeth into it pushes more of the food between and around the braces. This makes more food stick against your teeth increasing the likelihood of decay. Avoid foods like:
- Taffy and other sticky candy
- Hard candy
- Chewy bread or bagels
- Hard pretzels
- Corn on the cob
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