Oral Hygiene

It is very important to brush and floss properly when you're wearing braces — but what's the best way to do that? Let's start with the basic brushing tools: Either a soft-bristle toothbrush or a bi-level toothbrush (one that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges) can be effective. Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can work just as well. But be sure the electric brush is set to a moderate power level and keep the back of the brush from hitting the braces!

Brushing with braces.

You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day, preferably after morning and evening meals, for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the tooth surfaces: the outside, the inside, next to the gum line and the chewing surfaces. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums — that's where food particles can easily become trapped.

Here's a suggested brushing technique: Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and use small circular motions to gently polish them. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line while keeping with the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

SPECIAL BRUSHING TOOLS

Interdental toothbrush.

If you are having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that can be used to help. One is called an interdental toothbrush or a proxabrush  it has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires, between brackets and around bands.

Another useful tool is an oral irrigator or “Waterpik”, a device that shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth to dislodge bits of food that are trapped in nooks and crannies. While it's easy to use and helpful, an oral irrigator is not a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss — but when used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it can be very effective.

FLOSS FUNDAMENTALS

floss threader

Flossing at least once per day is vital to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. But how do you get floss under the archwire of your braces between the teeth? It is easy to do with the help of a floss threader, which is somewhat like threading a needle: You pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader — carrying with it the free end of the floss — under the archwire. Now grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, and all the way under the gums as you would when flossing without braces. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss to clean between every other tooth.

There are also other useful flossing tools that we will teach you how to use when getting braces placed at our office, which inculde: Superfloss and FlossFish.

FULL DISCLOSURE

Curious to know how effective your tooth-cleaning techniques really are? There's an accurate way to tell, using dissolvable tablets called "disclosing tablets" or “disclosing solutions". These tablets contain special vegetable dyes that, when dissolved in the mouth, highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots with continued cleaning — and you'll know for sure if your oral hygiene methods need improvement.

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy now and always is an investment in your future. It enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment and starts you toward a brighter smile that can last for a lifetime.

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