You have got braces to improve your smile. Taking care for your braces is as crucial as taking care of your teeth.
It becomes essential for all the orthodontic patients to know how to clean them since an orthodontic treatment is a serious investment of time and finances.
Using soft bristles toothbrush with a fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwashes, flossing, and oral irrigation systems are some of the methods that aim to keep your mouth clean.
The barrier of braces makes it almost impossible to clean them, as well as your teeth. By learning the correct ways to maintain them not only helps in successful orthodontic treatment, but it also helps in overall oral health care.
Types of Braces
There are five most common types of braces used in an orthodontic treatment, based on the kind of material and areas involved –
They are also known as ‘Traditional Braces.’ They are the most common type of braces used. The metal brackets are bonded on the teeth, and the metal wire is put through these brackets to apply pressure and move teeth to their desired position.
Ceramic braces work the same way as the metal ones except that the brackets are made of clear ceramics. People who have aesthetic concerns, they go for them. Sometimes, the elastics that are used to attach the archwires may cause staining.
Self- Ligating Braces
Self-ligating braces are also called as Damon Braces. They also work the same way as traditional ones, but they use a slide mechanism to connect the archwires.
These braces are easy to clean and also reduce the number of trips to the dentist, thereby reducing the cost and time. (1)
Lingual braces attach towards the lingual (tongue) side. They are more expensive than the metal ones are very difficult to clean. They are not suitable for those who have to undergo extensive orthodontic treatment
Invisalign braces are an almost invisible and removable type of braces. They are very easy to clean. They have to be taken out at the time of eating food. Invisalign brace is usually expensive than metal braces and also, they are not recommended for severe conditions.
What is there to worry?
Teeth with braces require extra care and time to maintain an overall healthy oral hygiene. The time and patience invested will help you to avoid problems such as inflammation in gums, tooth decay, and staining.
The food debris which gets stuck on your braces increases the risk of oral problems. All these issues could be avoided if you put in your best to keep them clean and free from food particles and plaque.
Braces include several parts such as – orthodontic wires, brackets, bands, elastics, springs, and screws. All these parts increase the surface area where the plaque biofilm can form and adhere.
Also, the acid which forms in this process damages the metal of the orthodontic appliance and teeth by a method called etching.
How to clean orthodontic braces?
Following are a few methods which can be developed at an individual level to clean your teeth with braces –
Start by rinsing your mouth with water, preferably warm water. It will help to break the food particles attachment from the teeth and will make the brushing easier.
Select a toothbrush with soft bristles that can be operated manually or electrically depending on your preference
Place your toothbrush at 45-degree angle at the gum line. Gently move the brush in back and forth, then upward and downward direction with short strokes ensuring to clean the outer, inner and chewing surfaces.
One can also opt for interdental brushes (Proxibrush) for reaching out to the small areas not covered by the toothbrush.
At- home oral irrigation kits are available at major retails stores. This is a specialized device which pushes the water in a thin stream to directly flush out the food debris, plaque biofilm, and acids that are present around the tooth and the orthodontic appliance. (2)
Inculcating a flossing habit becomes essential for orthodontic patients. One must floss at least once a day. To make it easier, one can use a floss threader or orthodontic floss.
Floss threader helps you to floss under the archwire. A small string of floss is put through a threader and slide the floss in an upward and downward direction. Be careful and do not pull with too much force, especially around the archwire.
A mouthwash is always beneficial when it comes to our oral health care. It is recommended to opt for a chlorhexidine mouthwash (3). Rinses after flossing are ideal. This will help to get into the spaces where toothbrush and floss are unable to reach.
If you use a water flosser, try filling it with a solution of mouthwash and water in a 50-50 ratio. It will combine the time involved in doing flossing and mouthwash rinses separately.
Regular Dental Visits
You must visit the dentist regularly, either in the six months duration or whenever the orthodontist has given you the appointment.
This helps to maintain your teeth and orthodontic appliance. Also, regular appointments can help you to learn the proper ways of taking care of your teeth at home.
Maintaining your braces
Eating the Right Things
If you are wearing braces, then you need to be careful with what you eat. Eating sticky and chewy food items help the plaque to adhere to the tooth and around the brackets which can lead to staining, decaying and gum diseases.
They can also lead to detachment of your brackets from the tooth. Hard food items are also a big NO. To consume them, break them into small pieces so that they don’t put unnecessary pressure on the braces.
Mouthguards are used to protect braces especially if you are a sports person who is prone to injure your mouth and your orthodontic appliance.
They help in protecting your braces, teeth, cheeks, and lips from any kind of fall or injury to your face. (4)
Installing a magnification mirror at home helps you to see your teeth clearly. It will help you to show areas of concern and will also help you to take proper care for your teeth.
These mirrors are inexpensive and readily available in departmental stores
While you are wearing braces, it is critical to take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. Invest in choosing the right products such as right toothbrush that will help in the successful cleaning of your teeth.
It is very important to apply all the above methods in the correct way and take the help of your orthodontist to correct you and teach you the proper technique.
Always remember, the only person who can take care of your teeth is YOU. It’s up to you to keep your mouth disease-free. It’s all about committing to taking care of your teeth daily, without fail.
For children with braces, this commitment is up to the parents to take the responsibility of taking care of their child’s teeth. They should also teach the importance of oral health and encourage them to keep their mouth free of tooth diseases.