Braces aren’t just a cool way to jazz up your smile, they also correct overcrowded and misaligned teeth too! Since people who have braces are more prone to gingivitis, tartar, and demineralization, it is important to take care of the teeth underneath, and not just the braces themselves.
Although taking care of your teeth can be a bit of a challenge when you have braces, it is essential for avoiding complications while they’re on and off. It doesn’t matter if your braces are metal or clear, the only way to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile when the braces are taken off is through proper dental care.
Many children and adult orthodontic patients who did not take excellent care of their teeth while wearing braces, end up with decalcification / white spots on the teeth and actual decay. This is very frustrating for the patient, parents, the orthodontist and the family dentist. A lot of money was spent to correct misaligned teeth and to make them perfect and straight. So it is very upsetting to now have to have fillings on newly straighten teeth.
If you think about it, braces are food and plaque magnets, and collect tons of food in them every day. It takes a long time to use floss threaders to clean between every tooth and wire, but if the food and plaque are NOT removed on a daily basis decay will occur. How this happens is that food debris combine with sugars to form acids that dissolve and eat through tooth enamel. While some superficial surface enamel can be remineralized by certain fluoride containing topical gels and rinses, once the decay has gone through the enamel into the softer dentine layer underneath, the tooth must be treated, resulting in loss of tooth structure. Plus having to have fillings right after getting braces off is no fun at all.
As if not being able to chew on your favorite food wasn’t torture enough, now you’re faced with cleaning these things! But not to worry, we’ve broken down the basics for daily brushing and flossing just for you:
1. Prepare your mouth– Remove elastics or any other removable parts of your braces.
2. Clean your braces– Brush around the wires and pins of your braces by holding your toothbrush at a 45˚ angle going from the top of each wire to the bottom. A power-spin brush can really help in removing food as well.
3. Get Scrubbing– With your brush still at an 45˚ angle, place your brush on the gum line then move it in a circular motion with gentle pressure for 10 seconds. Use the same brushing action on all tooth surfaces, tilting the brush as needed.
4. Floss daily– To really reduce the chance of getting decay, there is no way around not committing to using a floss threader at least every other day to remove food and plaque. Use a flossing product that is specifically designed for braces like a floss threader.
5. Rinse then check– After rinsing thoroughly with water or mouth rinse, examine your teeth and braces in the mirror to be sure every nook and cranny has been cleaned thoroughly. Also rinse with an over the counter fluoride rinse like ACT or Fluroguard every night before bed. If you are cavity prone your dentist can prescribe a gel called MI Paste. It is a combination of Calcium Phosphate and Fluoride that can help reverse small areas of decay. Regular patients can benefit from the daily use of MI Paste as well.
While undergoing your orthodontic treatment it is important to continue visiting your general dentist on a regular basis. These checkups not only help spot cavities and signs of gum disease, but your dentist may also provide your teeth with extra protection from decay by performing fluoride treatments.
Below are photos of decay that was found during orthodontic treatment where the wires had to be removed to treat the decay. Other photos show decay once the braces were removed at the end of the Orthodontic treatment.