Congratulations on having your braces placed on your teeth!
Wearing braces requires patience and discipline. Often, the result of treatment can be more than just a healthy smile, as your dentist is also preventing bigger problems from developing later.
It is important that you maintain proper oral hygiene as it will help keep your treatment time on schedule and it may even help reduce it. Furthermore, it will contribute to the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
And your reward? A lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles! Just follow these tips and you will be well prepared for this exciting journey:
Extra time is needed to clean and brush your teeth properly.
This is important as braces can act as a “plaque trap,” increasing the amount of plaque in your mouth, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease. Good oral hygiene will prevent dental caries appearing whilst wearing braces.
How do I clean all areas of my mouth while wearing braces?
At first, doing a good job removing plaque from your teeth and along the gum line may seem difficult with braces. But keep at it: with a bit of practice, it will get easier! Following these tips for manual (or hand) brushing can also help:
- First, take off any elastic bands and removable parts (like headgear).
- One recommended brushing method is to place your brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum. Apply gentle pressure as you brush with a short back-and-forth motion, cleaning each tooth individually for about 10 seconds (modified bass technique)
- Use the same brushing motion on all inner and outer tooth surfaces
- Don’t forget to brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth – and make sure you reach the teeth in the back!
- Finish by cleaning around your braces, brushing first from the top and then from the bottom. Brush gently and take care not to break or bend any of the brackets or wires.
- See these YouTube videos from Bitebank Media for a animated version:
- Proper Tooth Brushing Technique: https://youtu.be/4iIGhqi57es
Alternatively, having a good electric toothbrush will help you have a constant gentle pressure on the tooth, eliminate the back and forth motion which you need for manual brushing and will help you clean consistently and effectively. Proper tooth brushing technique and the modified bass technique still needs to be observed.
Note that brushing only removes around 60% of the bacteria in your tooth surface so make sure that you floss as well!
How do I floss with fixed braces?
Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth and under your gum line-areas beyond the reach of your toothbrush. In fact, if you don’t floss, you’re leaving up to 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched and uncleaned. Choose a “threading floss” (such as a Orab B Superfloss) with a stiffened end that threads it through the gap between each tooth – above the wire for your upper teeth and below the wire for your lower teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth in a “C” shape and gently move it up and down the side of each tooth, including under the gum line. Unroll a new section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
After you take the appliance out of your mouth, brush and clean between your teeth in the normal way. Then, using your toothbrush and toothpaste, clean your appliance, rinsing thoroughly with water afterwards.
Also, make sure that you gently brush the gum areas that are covered by your appliance. This includes the roof of your mouth if you wear the appliance on your top teeth.
Dr. Steve Yang has a great YouTube video to demonstrate this techinique: https://youtu.be/n_JSmlrmhfU
Changes in diet
This is necessary as careless eating may break wires or loosen brackets, which in repairing will prolong your treatment.
- Do not chew gum with the braces
- Avoid soft drinks
- Apples and hard pieces of fruit must be cut into smaller pieces
- Keep sweets to a minimum – if eaten, try to eat all at once rather than every hour
- No toffees or similar foods.
- N.B. Keep any bracket which has loosened and bring with you to your next appointment.
Changes in lifestyle
Your daily routine will also be affected by:
- Monthly visits to the dentist to have the braces tightened and checked
- Mouthguard should be worn if playing any contact sports – we can fabricate a custom mouthguard for you during the course of your treatment
- Carry a toothbrush with you as often as possible.
Which products are best for braces?
Orthodontic toothbrushes have bristles trimmed in a ‘V’ shape for cleaning above and below the brackets and wire. Power toothbrushes can remove more plaque than ordinary manual toothbrushes. And some of the newer ones have brush heads specifically made for use with braces. Interdental brushes have very small heads with fine bristles, perfect for cleaning under wires and between teeth. For flosses, it is best to use flosses with a “threading head” which is a portion of the floss which stiffer than the rest of the floss itself so that you can poke the floss through the archwire as if you are putting a thread through a sewing needle (Oral B Superfloss is a good example of that).
Do I still need to see my regular dentist?
Yes. Your team of dentist and hygienists will work with you to help you do the best job possible in caring for your teeth and gums.
During your first one to two weeks of having braces it is normal to feel the braces to be a bit tight, making your teeth more sensitive than normal. It will take around 1-2 weeks to get used to it. Some parts of the braces will irritate your lips and cheeks and ulcerations may happen. To reduce the ulcerations during this period of time, use the orthodontic wax provided and place it to the part of the braces which are irritating. Remove the wax before eating foods and you can use it as many times as you need. Ask us if you need more waxes during your appointments.
Some useful braces terminology (as a FYI):
Supplement: Orthodontic emergencies
Note about orthodontic emergencies:
There are very few true emergencies when you have braces. But if you find some of the problems you cannot solve by yourself, contact our office so we can book you in for a repair appointment.
Here are some of the common scenarios and what to do in-case you have them:
Take panadol or hot pad/warm salt washes. Generally will start to get used to the sensation within 1-2 weeks.
Use the orthodontic wax provided to you, pick a small piece of it out and place it on the place where it irritates you. You can also use a clean eraser to apply some part on the wires, or even birthday candles (wax).
Call our office first to see if the wire needs to be refitted. Please call asap so we can schedule you the next business day and schedule you for a repair appointment. If the bracket does fall out, KEEP IT in a safe place and bring it to our office, as the brackets are custom made for you and if you lose it we will need to order a new one for you (additional costs may be charge for multiple lost/loose brackets).
If you find a separator lost, call us ASAP so we can schedule you to put a new one in. Otherwise it can delay your treatment. Some patients can lose one or two separators during the appointment, which is COMMON as the tooth will be separated and loosened by the separators.