Welcome to your orthodontic journey! As with anything new, there will be some adjustments and questions. This blog will help you become familiar with some of the guidelines we have with orthodontics regarding brushing and eating.
ORAL HYGIENE AND TOOTHBRUSHING
When you eat, your teeth and braces or appliance, collect food. The naturally occurring bacteria in everyone’s mouth combine with this food to produce plaque. Plaque is a gooey/fuzzy layer of bacteria and rotten food. Plaque produces ACID, which dissolves your teeth and causes gingivitis. If you do not brush well, you will get:
- Cavities: tooth decay
- Decalcification: permanent white marks on your teeth
- Gingivitis: swollen, red and bleeding gums which will inflame the gums and make sore.
- Bad Breath
PROPER USE OF YOUR SOFT BRISTLED TOOTHBRUSH:
The best way to reduce plaque is by careful brushing after meals and before bedtime or a minimum of 3 times a day. Thoroughly clean all tooth surfaces, aiming the toothbrush at an angle from above and below the braces. Pay attention to where you are brushing, so you clean everywhere. Rinse the foam away and look at your teeth closely in the mirror. Make sure all plaque has been removed, especially under the wires and next to the gums. It takes a little practice to clean the area between your gums and braces, but keeping your teeth healthy is worth the effort!
DAILY FLUORIDE MOUTH RINSE:
Daily use of a fluoride rinse (ACT, Reach, or Listerine with fluoride) reduces the risk of cavities by approximately 80%. It kills any bacteria (plaque) the brush missed, and repairs microscopic damage in the enamel. Just before going to bed, after you brush your teeth, swish the recommended amount of Fluoride rinse around your teeth for one minute. Do not swallow the fluoride rinse! Just spit it out and do not rinse with water afterward. This is like a mini fluoride treatment at home each day.
OCCASIONAL PEROXYL USE FOR SKIN IRRITATION:
If your cheeks, tongue or lips develop a sore from rubbing the braces, rinse a few times with Peroxyl. You can also dab it on sore spots with a Q-tip. Peroxyl is an over-the-counter Hydrogen Peroxide rinse. It will sooth the irritations and prevents infections by releasing oxygen, which kills some bacteria which may cause infections in the mouth. Do not use Peroxyl for more than a few days at a time, to avoid upsetting the natural balance of organisms in a healthy mouth.
Dental floss is still necessary when wearing braces. Although this can slightly take more time in braces, dental floss may be used with the aid of a floss threader. We will give you some threaders and show you how to use them the day you get your braces on.
A waterpik is an appliance that sprays a stream of water, which aids in cleaning around your teeth, gums, and braces. A special orthodontic tip can be used to help remove plaque that stick to the brackets and between the teeth, while also flushing the extra bacteria and food debris from around teeth and under the gums. The water spray can also be considered a massage for the gums! We recommend using this appliance 1-2 times a day.
ROUTINE DENTAL VISITS:
You need to also maintain regular visits with your general dentist on a 6-month recall basis (or shorter, if needed). This is very important as your dentist will be able to carefully monitor your teeth for cavities and other oral concerns during your time in braces.
FOOD AND BRACES
Your braces and appliances are attached to your teeth. Special care must be exercised while eating and playing to prevent loosening a brace or bending a wire. If a brace is loosened or a wire bends or pokes, your teeth will not move properly, and can delay your treatment. Please be careful about what you eat, and how you eat it. Follow the guidelines below, but keep in mind to use your common sense when selecting your food choices as well
AVOID HARD FOODS
- Hard Candy (examples: jawbreakers, jolly ranchers, altoids, etc.)
- Thick Tortilla Chips or Big Hard pretzels
- Popcorn kernels
- Jerky (any type)
- Meat Bones (just cut meat off of the bone)
- Pizza Crust or Hard Breads
- Corn on the Cob (Cut the corn off the cob)
- Whole Carrots & Apples (Cut into pieces or steam)
AVOID STICKY FOODS
- Fruit Snacks or Fruit Roll-Ups
- Chewy Granola Bars or Candy Bars
- Chewy Candy (examples: Starburst, Skittles, Tootsie Rolls, Gummy Bears, Caramels, Laffy Taffy)
We do not want extra acid in your mouth to decalcify the teeth and create cavities. If you drink or eat something sugary, rinse with plain water as soon as possible if you cannot brush right away. With that being said, do not suck on lemons or limes or most importantly, minimize acidic and sugared drinks (example: sports drinks and soda).
AVOID chewing on hard objects such as pens and/or pencils.
If something should become loose or broken, please call our office as soon as possible to see if an appointment should be scheduled. Do not wait for your next regularly scheduled appointment to notify us of the broken bracket or poking wire.
Thank you and please call us with any questions or concerns. As always, we are here to help!