Overview of Orthodontic Care – During & After the Treatment

Post orthodontic treatment care is crucial to eliminate the chances of relapse. Moreover, a small care routine can take you a long way in maintaining the perfect smile makeover. One of the most common dental concerns that patients have is always related to the appearance of their smile.

Not everyone is born with a perfect set of well-aligned teeth. Most people have one or the other type of malocclusion like crooked teeth, overlapping or spacing between the teeth. Some other malocclusions include excessive overbite, overjet, open bite, and irregular tooth alignment. Orthodontic treatments come as a boon in these situations and help the patient to align their teeth correctly.

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The primary purpose of orthodontic treatment is to diagnose, prevent, and treat any misalignment that involves the teeth and the jaw. Usually, orthodontic treatments use braces to reposition the teeth in the arch. It is essential to note that the effects of orthodontic treatment last for as long as you take care of your teeth. This involves looking after the health of the newly positioned teeth even after the removal of braces.

Today’s article will highlight on the orthodontic care techniques that you should follow during as well as after orthodontic treatment. Additionally, we will also discuss the importance of retainers post braces treatment.

What do you mean by orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is a cosmetic dental branch that deals with the diagnosis of malocclusions and treating them to straighten and align the teeth. The results of this treatment bring improvement in the appearance of the smile. Moreover, it helps to maintain harmony between the teeth and surrounding oral tissues. (1)

Some of the temporomandibular joint problems are caused by improper bite and misalignment of teeth. By moving the teeth into ideal positions through braces, the jaws get back to normal position and functions effectively without any pain or discomfort.

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatments may be well known for its cosmetic effects on the smile. However, it has many long terms and short-term benefits that help to maintain the health of the teeth and gums. Some of the benefits of orthodontic treatment include –

Improving the appearance of the smile

Perfect Smile - Orthodontic treatment by Orthodontist

Orthodontic treatments permanently realign the teeth and correct any spacing or overlap between the teeth. As a result, this treatment provides a more natural and uniform look to the smile of the patient. Most patients prefer to have natural smile correction as it brings a sense of positivity towards the appearance of their teeth.

Unpleasant gum problems related to tooth misalignment gets corrected automatically as the teeth are repositioned into their ideal site in the arch. Such consequences enhance the smile.

Correction of dental malocclusions

Braces treatments are specially designed to correct dental ailments like crowding, overbite, underbite, and gaps between the teeth. Furthermore, this procedure helps to prevent the reoccurrence of such malocclusions. As a result, the braces treatment improves the long-term health and development of the teeth. Moreover, it maintains the harmony between the teeth and surrounding oral tissues.

Adjunct preparatory procedure

Orthodontic treatments are often performed as an adjunct to future cosmetic dental treatments. For example, teeth are aligned using braces before performing structural changes to the bone by oral surgeries that reposition the jaw.

Long term relief from future dental ailments

One of the prime roles of orthodontic treatment is to prevent the problems of misalignment from further damage to the health of the oral tissues. Correction of the bite helps to align the jaws and relieve jaw pain or disorders. Moreover, it improves the health and functions of the bone. (2)

A significant boost in patient’s confidence

The success of orthodontic treatment improves the appearance and the functionality of the teeth. Aesthetically, orthodontic treatments make the smile healthier and more attractive. This instantly brings in the sense of self-esteem and confidence in the patient. (3)

How to take care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment?

It is often challenging to keep your teeth clean with braces. Poor oral hygiene can have severe, long-lasting effects on the health of the teeth and gums. Orthodontic treatments take around one to two years to complete. During this time, it is crucial to maintain proper oral hygiene as it may affect the on-going treatment. (4)

Let’s look at some of the best ways you can follow to maintain the health of your teeth and gums during orthodontic braces treatment

  • Change your toothbrush – it is essential to have proper oral health care tools to take good care of your teeth and gums. Braces tend to trap food and debris and often attract more plaque and bacteria. In such cases, the regular toothbrush does not help to clean the teeth efficiently.

Invest in an electric toothbrush for efficient tooth cleaning. An electric toothbrush makes oscillating and vibratory motions which break the plaque layer on the tooth surface. Additionally, interdental brush or proxy brush can help to clean the areas between the wire and teeth. It is crucial to follow an ideal rule of brushing your teeth two times daily.

  • Floss regularly once in a day – flossing is an essential part of an oral health care routine, especially when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Traditional flossing thread may be difficult to use. However, it is still one of the most efficient ways of cleaning the interdental areas. You can also switch to super floss or use an interdental brush with 360 bristle coverage to floss between the teeth and around the brackets. (5)
  • Often orthodontic treatments cause gum inflammations. It can happen as a body reaction to metal brackets in sensitive people or due to excessive plaque accumulation around the brackets and gum line.

While tooth brushing and flossing may help to clean most of the plaque and bacteria from the tooth surface, addition of antimicrobial mouthwash can take you a long way in maintaining excellent health of your oral tissues especially the gums.

  • A quick change of toothpaste can do wonders to the enamel strength. Often patients with braces are at a high risk of enamel erosion and cavity formation. Prescription based fluoride toothpaste recommended by the dentist can help to provide an added protection to your teeth.

Fluoridated toothpaste works best on incipient or hidden white spots that develop on the tooth surface, especially around the brackets. Although there are many fluoridated toothpaste available in the market, a dentist prescribed fluoride toothpaste focuses on the dental needs of the patient.

  • Tooth brushing after every meal may not be feasible for orthodontic patients. Therefore, it is best to rinse your mouth with water after every meal you eat.
  • Regular dental check-ups are crucial for adequate cleaning of the mouth. Professional teeth cleaning and examination helps to keep a check on the current health status of your mouth. Moreover, it speeds up the treatment course by eliminating dental problems like tooth decay and gum problems. (6)
  • Use of mouthguard for athletic people – many kids and adults who are sports enthusiast look forward to continuing playing while they get braces treatment. To ensure the safety of the teeth and preserve the on-going treatment, mouth guards play an essential role in protecting the teeth with braces. Often custom-fit mouth guards help to distribute the force of a blow on the face evenly.

What should you expect on your last orthodontic appointment?

dental therapist vs dental hygienist

The last appointment of your orthodontic treatment is often the most anxious and exciting day as the result of the procedure can be seen clearly. The dentist removes the wire and brackets, giving the patient a sign of relief.  While all of these things may be overwhelming, it is essential to be informed and prepared about some of the things that you may encounter after the removal of braces. (7)

Many people experience tooth sensitivity for a few days or weeks after the removal of brackets. This is because the part of enamel that was previously bonded to the bracket gets exposed to the mouth. Often at this time, patients are advised to refrain from eating cold and sweet food items for the next few weeks.

Some patients also experience mild swelling around the gums. This usually happens during the removal of the brackets from the tooth surface. However, the swelling subsides gradually within two to three days. The dentist will also inform you about the types of retainers and advise you on modifying your eating habits and tooth brushing habits.

What dental care should you focus on after completion of orthodontic treatment?

Two of the most common dental issues that people struggle with after removal of braces is –

  • Excessive plaque build-up around the areas where braces were fixed earlier
  • The fear of relapse

To get rid of these situations, it is essential to follow proper oral health care steps –

Professional tooth cleaning

One of the prime steps in taking care of your dental needs after the completion of orthodontic treatment is to get rid of the plaque and bacteria that may still be present on the tooth surface. Professional dental cleaning after braces removal allows providing a squeaky-clean smile. Moreover, it gets rid of any tooth staining that might have happened during treatment.

Routine home care

While professional dental cleaning may set the baseline for you, you must maintain the health of your teeth and gums. It is best to buy a soft-bristled toothbrush and use it in gentle circular motions with a fluoridated toothpaste.

The soft-bristled toothbrush also helps to massage the gums instead of causing unnecessary wear gently. An electric toothbrush is also an excellent choice to clean your teeth efficiently. Flossing once a day after tooth brushing is recommended to clean the interdental areas.

Diet modifications

Mechanical Soft Diet Food List

Often when people eat food after braces removal, they feel different and strange. This is because people are not habituated to bite with the newly aligned teeth. For this reason, it is advised to always start with a soft diet which includes boiled vegetables, fruits, yogurt, cheese, or milk. Once you get accustomed to eating with the new bite. You can gradually shift to hard food items. Acidic food or beverages should often be put to hold, as it can cause immediate enamel erosion and increase tooth sensitivity.

Importance of retainer

permanent retainer removal

Nobody likes to wear another dental appliance after the braces removal. However, it is crucial to understand that retainers are the essential components of the treatment. Teeth always tend to move back to their original position. Retention is a must to eliminate the chance of relapse and maintain your beautiful smile. (8)

Preservation of the teeth in the new position is a follow-up stage which is crucial to ensure that your smile makeover lasts for life. Retainers can be removable or fixed. Often people like to have fixed retainers which consist of a thin wire bonded on the back of the front teeth. Clear aligners are advanced and aesthetic retainers made from transparent thermoplastic material. These are custom made to fit the dental arches of the patient and provide comfort while blending with the natural teeth.

People who choose to get removable retainers must ensure the safety of the appliance. It is best always to put the retainer in a case when you wish not to use it. Moreover, it is essential to clean the retainer regularly as dental appliances attract more plaque and bacteria.

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Take away message

Orthodontic treatments are an excellent way to restore the natural smile of a person. It is one of the most common and popular choices of a cosmetic dental procedure. Orthodontic treatments usually involve placement of fixed appliances such as braces. The procedure takes around one to two years for completion.

During this time, most of the patients do not focus on oral health and hygiene. Therefore, it is essential to note that poor oral hygiene can have severe effects on the teeth and gums. Moreover, the practice of oral health care becomes more crucial after the removal of braces. Consult your dentist and follow the post-treatment instructions very carefully.

Many people don’t wear retainers after the removal of braces. However, lack of knowledge and proper care can lead to a relapse of the treatment and pose devastating effects on your smile. The health and appearance of a patient’s smile always lie in your hands. Be informed and take appropriate actions as mentioned in the article to save yourself from the misery of orthodontic relapse.

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