One of the most important factors in deciding the ultimate outcome of an orthodontic treatment is maintaining proper dental hygiene.
Food particles caught in orthodontic devices like braces or brackets promote plaque buildup and hasten oral bacteria' attack on teeth, leading to dental problems including caries.
Self-Measures for Good Oral Hygiene Post-Braces
Brushing and flossing - Most dentists advise using a small-sized toothbrush to brush your teeth after getting braces. All the areas are easily accessible with a little brush, enabling finer and more thorough brushing. Although specialized brushes with significantly finer details may be suggested by the dentist, polished nylon bristles with a pleasant and level brushing surface are typically favored.
Ideal Brushing Steps
- Begin brushing from the top of the brace/bracket and aim right towards the tooth. Also, brushing back and forth is recommended.
- Properly clean the area under the brace/bracket using a back and forth movement to ensure proper cleaning
- Brush the occlusal (biting surface of tooth) and lingual aspect (tooth area facing the tongue)
- Use light circular motions while brushing the teeth to prevent any damage to the braces
Regular flossing is as important as brushing in these cases, as flossing removes food trapped in the braces. To appropriately perform flossing, the steps below are important:
- Cut a long piece of dental floss so that it can be easily folded around the index fingers of both hands.
- Place a loop of the floss between the brace wire and the teeth. The floss must be aligned to the space between the gums and the teeth.
- Hold the ends of the floss firmly folded around the index fingers. This ensures a proper grip and allows the desired movements to be made without harming the gums and braces.
- Gently remove the food entrapped between the teeth and accumulated plaque. To ensure gentle cleaning, it is advisable to hold the floss in a ‘C’-shape around the teeth rather than keeping the floss in a straight position This vertical movement ensures minimal damage and proper cleaning.
What Foods Should be Avoided While Wearing Braces?
Hard foods: Foods that require an effort to bite into, such as bagels, hard rolls, apples and nuts, should be eaten after cutting them into smaller pieces.
Sticky foods: Foods which adhere to the tooth surface should be avoided as they tend to stick to the tooth surface for a longer period of time. Some examples include caramels, chewing gums, and candies.
Sugary and processed foods: Foods like candies and sugary beverages can promote demineralization and result in subsequent tooth caries.
Crunchy foods: Foods like popcorn and ice should be completely avoided during an orthodontic treatment as the force used to crush them inside the mouth can lead to the breakage of the braces.
In addition to the techniques indicated above, braces should be protected from any external harm. Avoid engaging in activities that could result in accidents or interpersonal aggression. Wearing a mouth guard while playing is advised for sportsmen and other sportspeople. Additionally, routine dental checkups guarantee expert cleaning and the best treatment.