How To Take Care of Your Braces: Home Care Questions Answered!

So it’s finally happening. You’ve had your consultation, taken xrays, picked out the tshirt and enjoyed your last apple/gum/popcorn chewing for a while. Today is the day your braces are going on! You’re feeling good, maybe a little sore, but mostly excited to get this beautiful-smile journey started! But before you can walk out our door with your cool new hardware, there’s one more thing we need to do…learn how to take care of your braces in between your appointments with us! So let’s answer a few questions to tell you what to do with all the goodies that came in that SCO water bottle!

You mentioned I’m not going to be eating popcorn for a while. Are you saying there are certain foods that I need to avoid while in braces?

Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.

What can I do if the inside of my mouth is sore?

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce any inflammation to your gums and cheeks caused by the brackets. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces.

1. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out.

2. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed.
Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces?

Patients should brush their teeth 3-4 times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will show you how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

Specifically, how do I keep my braces and teeth clean?

Glad you asked! You and I have to work together to achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. My team and I do our part during your appointments, and your job happens every day in between.

The most important thing to remember when brushing your teeth is to take adequate time. Brushing every surface of every tooth will take several minutes.

1. Begin brushing in the top right area of your mouth.

2. Brush two teeth at a time with five small circular movements.

3. Tilt the brush under the wire and brush two teeth at a time with five back and forth strokes.

4. Tilt the brush over the wire to clean between the braces and the gums.

5. Next, brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth.

6. Also brush the tongue side of your teeth.

7. Don’t forget to brush your tongue. A lot of bacteria which causes bad breath lives in your tongue.

It is important to remember that if you haven’t spent adequate time brushing to remove plaque and food debris, fluoride from toothpaste will not reach the tooth surface and will be ineffective. As you brush thoroughly the health of your teeth and gums will improve.

What can I do to prevent tooth decay while wearing braces?

Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps braces wearers prevent tooth decay by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of Phos-Flur does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your daily schedule at bedtime.

1. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out.

2. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.

What is that tiny pipe cleaner tool that I’ve seen used for?

You must mean the proxabrush! It is fantastic for cleaning between teeth under orthodontic wires. It cleans spaces a typical toothbrush might miss. It is small enough to fit in your pocket or school bag and is a great accessory to clean your teeth after lunch.

1. Gently slide the proxabrush under the wire between two teeth.

2. In a back and forth motion, remove plaque and food debris around the brackets.

3. Slide the brush under the wire near the gums to continue the cleaning process.

4. After you brush with your toothbrush, use your proxabrush daily to minimize white spots and improve your gingival health.

Do I still need to floss when I’m wearing braces?

Simply put, if you floss daily, the health of your gums will improve. And there just so happens to be a special floss for braces called Super Floss. One end is stiff to help you thread it under your wire.

1. Thread the floss behind the wire and gently glide the floss in between the teeth in a sawing motion.

2. Pull the floss against one tooth and gently slide the floss up and down to remove plaque and food debris.

3. Repeat this step on the adjacent tooth.

4. Carefully remove the floss and move to the next site.

There is a piece of lettuce stuck in my braces that WILL. NOT. COME. OUT. Help?!

That’s the worst! Luckily, a water jet device uses a stream of water to clean where a toothbrush can’t reach.

1. Angle the tip perpendicular to the surface you are cleaning.

2. Clean each part of each tooth carefully making sure to remove all the plaque and food debris.

3. Gently move the tip along your gumline at a 45-degree angle to clean your gums. This is a critical area to clean as food is frequently trapped between the braces and the gumline.

You can also use the water jet to clean around appliances in the roof of your mouth. Use a water jet daily to keep your gums and teeth healthy. There are several instruments on the market, and we recommend this one.

Is it that big of a deal to make that big of a deal out of all this?

I’m not much of a doomsdayer, but this is one of those times I’m going to need to scare you straight. (get it? #orthojokes) If you don’t clean your mouth meticulously every day, plaque will form along your gums and around the brackets. Bacteria in the plaque produce acid that destroys your teeth. Once the braces are removed and the plaque is cleaned you will have cavities and permanent scars called “white spots” on your teeth. Myth Buster: orthodontic glue does not cause the white spots. In fact, it is due to poor brushing and flossing. This will happen to your teeth if you don’t take care of them. Please take the time each day to brush floss and/or use the water jet to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It’s the only way to protect the investment you and I are making in your smile.

Keep smiling!

Wait! What about me – I have Invisalign or a removable appliance. How and when do I clean that?

If you’re an Invisalign patient, we recommend that your clean your trays twice a day with soap and water. We also recommend that your rinse them with water when removing them!

If you have a removable appliance, brush it every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance daily by dissolving a denture-cleaning tablet (Polident, Efferdent, etc.) in a glass of tap water at room temperature and letting your appliance soak for 10 minutes. Your appliance will taste better, and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.

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