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How to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene with Braces

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How to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene with Braces

Taking care of your teeth and your braces requires some adjustments to your dental habits, but with a little practice, those new techniques will settle into a regular routine before you know it. Here are four tips that can help.

About 4 million Americans are wearing braces right at this moment, and every one of them has had to learn a few new techniques to keep their braces clean and their teeth and gums healthy. 

At Lovely Smiles Orthodontics, Nicole Thompson, DMD, and her team help patients in Richmond, Texas, learn how to optimize their oral hygiene routine while they’re wearing braces. The good news: It’s a lot easier than you think. These four tips can help.

1. Brush like a pro

Brushing actually begins with a little vigorous rinsing with water to loosen food particles. Next, position your toothbrush along the gums (first the uppers, then the lowers or vice versa), angling the brush at 45 degrees so the bristles make good contact with the gumline.

Move the brush in tiny circles along the gumlines to get rid of sticky plaque and bacteria. Brush 2-3 teeth at once for about 10 strokes before moving to the next 2-3 teeth. Angle your brush around the brackets and wires to clean your braces, then brush the backs of your teeth and the chewing surfaces.

You can use a manual brush if you like, but Dr. Thompson recommends an electric toothbrush, combined with fluoride-containing toothpaste, for best results. 

Brush in the morning, before bed, and ideally, after all meals. If you can’t brush after meals, at least rinse your mouth thoroughly, but don’t skip brushing in the morning and before bed.

2. Floss with finesse

Brushing takes a little practice, but flossing takes a lot of practice to learn the proper technique. Fortunately, there are plenty of aids to help you clean in between your teeth and around your wires, including floss threaders, picks, and water flossers.

When you’re learning to floss with or without one of these devices, watch your technique in the mirror so you can make sure you’re doing a thorough job. 

Need some help? Ask our team at your next visit, and we can give you some tips. Or check out this quick video from the American Association of Orthodontists.

3. Avoid these foods

It’s always a good idea to limit sweet, sticky snacks whether you have braces or not. But when you’re sporting wires and brackets on your teeth, limiting these — and other — foods is the best way to avoid damaging your mouth’s hardware.

Everyone knows chewing gum is a no-no while you’re wearing braces, but you should also skip:

  • Popcorn
  • Corn on the cob
  • Raw vegetables or fruits, like carrots and apples
  • Nuts
  • Chewy foods, like bagels and pizza crust
  • Sticky foods, like jelly beans, gummy bears, and caramels
  • Hard foods, like hard candy and ice
  • Many dried foods, including jerky and dried fruits

This is just a partial list. In general, avoid foods that are hard, sticky, or chewy, and limit sweet foods too.

4. Visit the dentist

In addition to visiting our office for regular checkups and adjustments, you should see your dentist regularly throughout your treatment. That means every 3-6 months for cleanings and every 6-12 months for checkups.

Face it: Wearing braces is a big investment of your time, and you want to enjoy those beautifully straight pearly whites once your braces come off. Regular dental visits prevent decay, gum disease, and other problems that can damage your teeth and your smile. 

Plus, your dentist can let you know if your oral hygiene routine needs a little “tweaking” to optimize your techniques.

Braces can improve your smile, your oral health, and your confidence. To learn more about braces treatment at Lovely Smiles Orthodontics and how you can keep your teeth and gums healthy during treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Thompson today.

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