The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and braces, as does dental plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth discolouration and tooth decay. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums!
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth three to four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire, so there is a smaller “end tuft” brush and a proxabrush to help. The proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires and direct it away from the gums to avoid hitting your gums with the brush.
It is important to floss and if desired, use a fluoride mouthwash throughout your orthodontic treatment. It is also VERY important to not use any bleaching or whitening toothpastes, strips or rinses while your braces are on. The areas under the braces will not get “bleached” and when the braces come off, the fronts of the teeth can have two different colours.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. Patience, patience patience it is worth it!.
Cleaning Your Removable Appliance
Brush your removable appliance 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, brush and rinse your appliance daily. Retainer cleaning tablets are available but should be used only once a month at the most.
Do not use anything to clean your retainer or removable appliance that you would not use to clean in your mouth. That means DO NOT USE abrasive cleaners, boiling water or bleach. Also, DO NOT put your appliance in the dishwasher to clean it – it will melt or warp.