Orthodontic Hygiene


Even though good oral hygiene is always important, it is absolutely essential if you are going to have orthodontic procedures. For example, if you get braces, they will have a tendency to retain food particles. This, in turn, can cause a buildup of plaque, which will increase the risks of halitosis, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Why Procedure is Used

Plaque is a corrosive mix of food particles and bacteria. While the bacteria mainly feed on sugar, they also produce acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. This acid can also cause bad breath, as well as irritate the gums. Because plaque can cause so much damage, it vital to ensure it is removed in order to keep your teeth strong and beautiful.

Patient Concerns to be Addressed

Even though you can use an electric toothbrush when you wear braces, you should not use it at full strength. It is also important to make sure that only the bristles touch the braces, as other parts can damage the braces or loosen them. In most cases, it is best to use a soft, bi-level manual toothbrush three times a day. As you may be aware, these toothbrushes have shorter bristles in the middle, and longer ones along the edges. Ideally you should choose other toothbrush characteristics, such as handle shape, based on personal comfort.

Typically, it is best to brush your teeth after each meal. As with routine oral hygiene, it is best to brush for 2 - 3 minutes during each session. You should make sure that you brush the braces, as well as each surface of your teeth. If you have problems getting into nooks and crannies, there are a also single tuft toothbrushes available. As you may be aware, these brushes look somewhat like a pipe cleaner.

It is also important to make use of a toothpaste with Fluoride in it. You can also make use of a fluoride rinse to ensure that your teeth stay as strong as possible. If you are prone to tooth decay or cavities, it may also be of some help to ask your dentist to prescribe a rinse that has a higher concentration of fluoride. Depending on your situation, your dentist can also apply a fluoride gel, or varnish to the surface of your teeth when you go for your visits. In some cases, you may also want to use an antibacterial rinse. That said, children should not use formulas that contain alcohol. Your dentist can recommend products that will kill germs, without making use of alcohol.

When you have braces, it is even more important than usual to floss your teeth. Today, there are a number of devices that can be used to help you achieve this goal. For example, you can use a floss threader, as well as other kinds of floss that will enable you to get in the areas between the brace wires and your gums.

While they are not required when you wear braces, oral irrigators can be of some use. An oral irrigator makes use of water under high pressure to clean your teeth. Even though it can help with removing food particles, these devices cannot take the place of a manual toothbrush and floss. It is also important not to use the irrigator at its strongest setting, as it may damage or loosen braces.

Chances are, if you take the time to follow good oral hygiene, you will want to know if you are doing it right. Today, there are tablets you can use that will help you detect if any plaque remains on your teeth. In most cases, disclosing tablets are made from vegetable dye, and can be obtained from your dentist. When you visit your dentist, he/she may ask you to use these tablets in order to make sure that your oral hygiene habits are effective. If you are not certain about how to use any type of oral hygiene product, you should ask your dentist for suggestions.

Post-Operative Concerns

In some cases, your dentist may give you a retainer, or other type of removable orthodontic appliance. This device needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Ideally, you should use a brush and toothpaste to clean it on a daily basis. It is very important to clean the areas that are in contact with your gums, as well as the roof of your mouth. You may also want to soak the appliance in a special cleaning solution. If you do not know which solution to use, your dentist can recommend one.

Even though you may be tempted to wash your retainer with hot water, it can cause the plastic to warp. This, in turn, will cause the retainer to be useless. As may be expected, you should keep your retainer away from pets, as well as ensure it remains in its protective case when not in use.

Perils of Disease

Once you start wearing braces, it is important to avoid foods that will damage them. Typically, hard candy, ice cubes, and gum can all cause damage to your braces. As always, these foods can also increase your chances of developing tooth decay. While you can eat candy, and drink some soda, it is best to avoid it as much as possible. If possible, you should combine sugary foods with a regular meal so that you reduce the risk of letting sugars build up in your mouth.

Regardless of how often you see your orthodontist, it is still important to see your regular dentist. He/she will take care of routine checkups, as well as cleanings. Typically, you will still need to see your regular dentist at least twice a year.