Braces Care: Best Practices for Maintaining Your Braces
Braces are the most popular and proven method of straightening misaligned teeth. In order to get the very best results from braces, proper care and maintenance are more than suggested: they are essential. Given the importance of braces care, here are a few things to know about maintaining your braces that will help you keep your teeth in top shape:
First things first: Brushing and Flossing with Braces
Your oral care routine will need some adjustments while you’re wearing braces, but good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent issues like cavities or gum disease while you’re undergoing your orthodontic treatment. Implement these practices into your oral care routine:
- Preparation – If your braces include rubber bands or other removables, do not try to brush around them. Your teeth need to be completely free of these additions, otherwise only a portion of your mouth and teeth will be accessible to brushes and floss.
- Angles – Without braces, we can get away with brushing our teeth only at a straight 90-degree angle…for a while. But with braces, each tooth must be brushed from multiple angles to actually dislodge food particles. The most important angle is 45 degrees; this places bristles up into the juncture point between the braces and enamel, not otherwise accomplished at 90 degrees or when brushing the tops/bottoms of the teeth.
- Flossing – As tempting as it may be to skip the floss—particularly after a thorough brushing—brushing does not remove food between the teeth that flossing does. Brushing and flossing are two different maintenance processes, and your teeth will only be half-cared for if you stop flossing. It’s apples and oranges…that simple.
- Check your work – A thorough rinse after brushing and flossing is critical, but not the final step. Visually inspect your teeth and braces to make sure nothing was missed. Food that stays on teeth overnight is what causes long-term decalcification (white spots), and worse…decay.
Brushing and flossing your teeth routinely while you’re wearing braces is essential. Your orthodontist, Dr. Kendra Pratt, will also give you a type of braces cleaner that looks like a pipe cleaner. This will help you get the food out of your braces and make it easier to brush your teeth and maintain good oral hygiene.
Some foods can damage braces…and teeth
The foods you eat can have an effect on your braces care. Steer clear of sticky or hard foods that might pull at or damage the brackets. Some foods, like apples, should be chopped into smaller pieces before you eat them, so you don’t have to bite directly into them.
Try to avoid sugary foods that can cause cavities, as well as foods that can stain your teeth around your brackets. If you plan on eating sugar, it is best to eat it (or drink it) with a meal, instead of between meals. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth soon after eating to make sure cavities and other problems don’t develop while you’re wearing braces.
You only get one set of adult teeth. Protect them.
If you play sports or do any kind of physical activity that might damage your braces, it is a good idea to look into mouthguards for protection. Not only will mouthguards shield your braces from damage, but they’ll also protect your lips and cheeks from being cut or irritated by your brackets.
Teach children to enjoy braces and braces care
Yes, you read that correctly. Braces and their maintenance do not have to be a drag for kids.
Don’t believe us? Click here to learn how Dr. Kendra Pratt and her orthodontics team teach their young patients to enjoy—even look forward to—taking care of their teeth and braces.
Dr. Pratt would be happy to answer any questions you might have about maintaining your braces. For more information about Woodlands dental care, give us a call in The Woodlands, TX near Magnolia and Tomball, TX a call at 281-367-0050 (Woodlands) or 936-596-1200 (Montgomery). Or contact us online today!