Top Tips For Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

At Hidden Smiles Orthodontics, it’s our goal to help you make your smile shine! Straightening your smile is a team effort, and that means you’ll need to take some steps to get the best results from your braces. Maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine is essential to achieving a straighter smile, but what does that mean for braces patients? To find out, read through our top tips for oral health during orthodontic treatment below! 

Be prepared to spend extra time on oral care

Once braces straighten your teeth, it will be much easier to reach the plaque accruing on and between your teeth. This means cleaning them will be faster and more effective. Things are a bit more complicated while you’re still wearing braces, though. The brackets and wires allow bacteria and food particles to get stuck, so you’ll need to spend extra time on your dental hygiene routine. These adjustments will add some time to your time brushing, but it’ll be well worth it when you see your beautiful new smile! 

Choose the right toothbrush for your needs

There’s no particular type of toothbrush for braces treatment, but choose one with soft bristles. The brackets are already applying gentle force to the teeth to move them, and a soft-bristled brush will help reduce any additional stress. We also recommend battery-operated toothbrushes for the extra power they provide! While manual toothbrushes do a perfectly good job keeping teeth clean, they can sometimes leave food particles and plaque behind, even with a thorough brushing.

Use fluoridated toothpaste

As with toothbrushes, there is no specific toothpaste for brushing with braces. However, it should contain fluoride as this mineral helps strengthen tooth enamel, reduce the risk of tooth decay, and minimize the acid erosion caused by some foods and drinks. To keep your teeth strong and healthy, you should use fluoride toothpaste even if you live in an area with fluoridated water. 

Brushing effectively with braces

Most patients will need to adjust their brushing technique once braces are placed. Use the guidelines below for the best results! 

  • Remove elastics, bands, or removable parts of orthodontic appliances.
  • Hold the toothbrush against the front sides of the teeth, and move the toothbrush in small circular motions. Go from tooth to tooth, following the regular curve of the gums and teeth.
  • Brush each tooth for several seconds, carefully and slowly. Ensure all food particles are reached and removed along the gum line, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth.
  • Moving top to bottom, brush each wire around the upper and lower teeth.
  • Take care to brush the biting surfaces of the teeth, the back sides of the teeth, and behind the molars.
  • Brush the roof of the mouth and tongue before rinsing.
  • Angle the brush head against each bracket and brush under the wires.
  • Rinse thoroughly, then examine your teeth and braces in the mirror. If there are any remaining food particles, be sure to remove them.

Since plaque can form in as little as 48 hours, you never want to give it a chance to get comfortable! We recommend brushing once in the morning, again after every meal, and one more time before bed. We realize this may not always be possible, but you should brush every morning and night for at least two minutes each time. If you can’t brush immediately after a meal, rinsing with water can help flush out any lingering food particles. 

Floss every night before bed

Flossing can be tricky with braces, but it’s an essential component of any good oral hygiene routine. Fortunately, floss threaders make it much easier to floss between your teeth and get under the archwire! This reusable tool has a stiff end that can get between the brackets and under the wire more efficiently. These simple steps will also help ensure the best flossing method. 

  • Slide a piece of floss about 18 inches long under the wire above the space between the two teeth. 
  • Insert the floss halfway through, then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. When the tooth is clean, there should be a slight squeaking sound.
  • Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
  • Gently remove the floss, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the steps above.

Make mouthwash part of your oral hygiene routine

While mouthwash shouldn’t replace brushing or flossing, it can be an excellent tool for boosting oral health! It covers areas of the mouth that a toothbrush and floss may not be able to reach, like the gums and other soft tissues. Rinses can also help if you struggle with gingivitis, periodontal disease, or a chronically dry mouth. 

To make the most of these products, it helps to know the differences between cosmetic rinses and therapeutic mouthwashes. Cosmetic rinses will temporarily improve bad breath and create a pleasant taste in your mouth, but they can’t kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Therapeutic mouthwashes are designed to impact oral bacteria and introduce healthy nutrients into your mouth. 

Using mouthwash leads to better breath, greater plaque prevention, and a reduced risk of cavities. We’re happy to recommend mouthwashes designed for use with braces at your next appointment! 

Avoid bad habits that can harm your teeth

When it comes to your smile, the habits you stay away from are just as important as the ones you live by! There are quite a few harmful oral habits that can leave you with results that are less than satisfying. Avoid chewing on pen caps or pencils, and never use your teeth as a tool! If you find yourself grinding your teeth, be sure to mention this to your orthodontist, as it can lead to more serious problems down the road. We’ll help you develop a plan to beat the habit and keep your smile in shape.

Create a “care kit” for your braces

After more than a year of sticking close to home, most of us are finally beginning to venture out more. Stay prepared for any minor orthodontic emergencies while you’re running around town by creating a “care kit” to keep with you. Consider packing it with some essential items like:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • a small tube of fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss or ortho picks
  • orthodontic wax 
  • extra rubber bands
  • lip balm
  • a small cup for rinsing with water
  • an unsharpened pencil (you can use the eraser end to push stray wires back into place!)

Schedule regular checkups with your dentist

You’ll be scheduled for follow-up appointments with us every 6-8 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Parikh will check that things are progressing according to your treatment plan. She’ll also make any necessary adjustments and may change the wire or bands on your braces. These check-ups are an important part of every treatment plan, but you should also continue seeing your dentist regularly throughout the treatment process! 

Your general dentist will clean your teeth, use a special tool to remove plaque and tartar, then polish your teeth to remove surface stains. Your teeth will also be flossed to remove any lingering debris. This is one of the easiest ways to keep your mouth healthy and happy during orthodontic treatment (and beyond!) 

Top Tips For Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

Trust Hidden Smiles Orthodontics for the best in orthodontic care 

There’s an important link between oral health and achieving a straighter smile. Following the guidelines from Dr. Parikh and utilizing the tips above will help ensure a healthy mouth while we work on straightening your smile! 

Our team is always here to help with questions or concerns about dental hygiene during treatment. To learn more about being proactive with oral health, contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment at our Huntington office!

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