Caring for your mouth while undergoing orthodontic treatment
Great oral hygiene is key to overall oral health. Whether you are wearing aligners or braces to achieve your orthodontic goals, it is more challenging and more time consuming to take care of your teeth on a daily basis.
Caring for your teeth and gums
Food and debris that is not cleaned off of your teeth can lead to plaque and bacterial build-up on and around your teeth. Braces, wires, and the elastic ties around the brackets all act to trap food and bacteria. It is important to clean your teeth and braces in the morning, at bedtime and after each meal. Inadequate home care can lead to increased incidences of white spot lesions (white scars) on the teeth, cavities, and gum and bone disease.
Maintaining ideal home care for your teeth and braces is the best way to preserve healthy gums and teeth. The three easiest ways to maintain your oral health is: diet, daily home care, and regular professional cleanings.
Diet and oral health
Diet and sugars are one of the root causes of tooth decay. Cutting down or eliminating foods and beverages with excess sugar – including sodas and juice, sweets and ice cream – will help reduce the incidences of cavities. It is also important to avoid sticky sweet foods that can not only damage the braces, but also get caught under the wire and rest sugar next to the teeth and lead to cavities.
Acid in beverages like soda and citrus juices is twice as harmful to your teeth. The acidity erodes the white layer of the tooth which then sets the stage for increased tooth decay and sensitivity.
Daily Maintenance and Home Care
Appliances (expanders, lip bumpers, lingual arches, etc)
Clean around the appliances with a normal toothbrush. Be sure to brush along the gum line. Waterpiks are very helpful when it comes to getting food out from underneath the braces/appliances.
A soft-bristle and small-head tooth brush is great at cleaning above and below the wire. It is important to clean around the brackets and wires in all directions. Waterpiks, “proxabrushes” and interdental brushes are all great tools for removing food that is stuck between the teeth and around the braces. Floss threaders and superfloss both are also great aids at helping floss under the wire and removing debris between the teeth.
Caring for your teeth and aligners while in Invisalign
When undergoing orthodontics with clear aligners (Invisalign), it is important to keep your teeth clean. Placing a tray on dirty teeth will make your teeth more prone to developing cavities and stain. It is important to keep your teeth very clean while using Invisalign. We suggest brushing your teeth and rinsing your aligners after each meal whenever possible.
Tricks for keeping your aligners looking clean and fresh:
Avoid eating and drinking colored foods while wearing the trays. Feel free to try any or all of the following to keep your trays clean:
- Use dish soap to clean the trays – it will keep them sparkling
- Drop the trays in denture cleaner while eating dinner
- Clean the aligner out with your toothbrush
- Purchase and use “retainer brite” online
Please avoid the following:
- Dropping the trays in alcohol-based mouth rinses – it will make the material appear foggy.
- Do not drop them in hot water as it may cause the trays to distort.
While in treatment, it is important that you continue to see your dentist and hygienist at least 2 times a year. In some situations, it is recommended that patients see their dentist and/or periodontist 3 or 4 times a year if severe plaque and tartar build-up occurs. Your dentist is not only looking at how great your bite is coming together, he or she is also looking for cavities, gum health and bone health while you are in treatment. These visits are very important for the overall health and longevity of your teeth.
*please let us know ahead of time if you would like your wires out prior to your cleaning. We will try to schedule your regular adjustment appointment the same day as your cleaning. We will take the wires out prior to your cleaning, and complete your adjustment when you return after your cleaning.