How to Care for Your Braces
Dr. Paul Serrano and Dr. Andrew Serrano are known for creating beautiful smiles. Here are our tips to take care of your braces.
Take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment.
By brushing and flossing regularly, you'll keep your teeth and gums at their best and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest smile possible.
When your braces come off, you'll see that your extra efforts have been rewarded with a healthy, great-looking smile that'll last the rest of your life.
If you fail to spend a little extra time caring for your braces, you may end up with white spots on your teeth once the braces are removed. This is an unsightly condition that no one wants.
Doing Your Part
To get the healthy and beautiful smile you want, you, your family dentist, and Dr. Paul Serrano and Dr. Andrew Serrano will have to work together as a team.
As the patient, you play the key part. It's up to you to make sure that your treatment is successful. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth clean and maintain good dental hygiene while you're wearing braces.
Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it. It will help you enjoy the best possible smile from your orthodontic treatment.
Plaque Is Your Enemy
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that collects on your teeth. It's made of bacteria, food, and saliva. If you let plaque and trapped food stay on and around your braces, they can cause swollen gums, bad breath, cavities, and permanent marks on your teeth.
As your Phoenix and Chandler orthodontist, we advise brushing your teeth regularly to remove this plaque.
We teach all of our patients the correct way to floss while wearing braces to make sure you remove all plaque regularly.
When to Clean
Brush thoroughly each time you have a meal or snack. If you can't brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.
Carry a travel toothbrush so that you can brush when you aren’t home. At least once every day, brush your teeth and braces thoroughly until they are spotlessly clean, and then floss.
This takes a little extra time, so you may want to do it at night before going to bed.
How to Brush
During your braces treatment, you will need to relearn the basics of brushing your teeth. Relearning this everyday task will teach you to pay attention to the cracks and crevices not only between teeth but around brackets and wires.
These tips can help you keep your teeth clean and healthy.
- Step 1: Start with the outside of the teeth with the brush at a straight angle. Use circular, vibrating motions.
- Step 2: Check the area between the gums and the braces by angling the brush down (up for the lower jaw). Keep moving in a small circular motion.
- Step 3: Clean the rest of the outside of the teeth by angling the brush up (down for the lower jaw).
- Step 4: Carefully brush the chewing surface of both the upper and lower jaw.
- Step 5: Finish by brushing the inside of the teeth.
- Step 6: Inspect your teeth and braces carefully to make sure they are spotless. Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact Serrano Orthodontics to see if it needs to be checked out and if we need to schedule a time to make a repair.
How to Floss
Our helpful Phoenix and Chandler orthodontist staff will help you learn proper flossing techniques when you choose us for your orthodontic care.
These tips for flossing with braces will make the process smoother for you, and you'll be a pro in no time.
- Step 1: Floss at least once a day. The floss needs to be pulled under the archwire if you have braces. A floss threader can facilitate this. Start by pulling floss through the threader.
- Step 2: Push the end of the floss threader under the archwire and pull the floss through.
- Step 3: Pull the floss up between the teeth and gently move it up and down the side of both teeth. Remember to move it up all the way under the gums.
- Step 4: Pull the floss out and use a different section of it for the next tooth.
Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation of your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces.
Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your brushing schedule: after meals (or after school) and before bed.
Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites, and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.
When you are finished brushing and rinsing, rinse your mouth carefully with water or an antiseptic dental rinse.
An antiseptic dental rinse can help minor gum inflammations and irritations from orthodontic appliances.
Also used to cleanse canker sores, minor wounds, and other mouth and gum irritations, this mouth rinse removes debris, enabling natural healing to occur.
It’s important to brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth during the retention phase as they can accumulate food particles and plaque.
Once a day, you should soak your appliance in a glass of room-temperature tap water with a denture-cleaning tablet, such as Polident or Efferdent. This will help prevent plaque build-up and oral infections and will keep your appliance tasting better.
Do not use hot water as it can distort the appliance.
An interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) is another aid you might find useful in keeping your teeth, braces and gums clean and healthy.
It can be used to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces. Use this device slowly and carefully so you do not damage your braces.
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the buildup of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.
Other Hygiene Helpers
In addition to the regular dental hygiene tools we are familiar with like toothbrushes and floss, there are a few products we can recommend that make brushing teeth with braces a little easier to manage.
- Interproximal Brush: This tool slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Fluoride Rinse: Use once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by Dr. Serrano or Dr. Andrew. For the best results, use with your interproximal brush to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.
- Power Toothbrush or Waterpik: These devices, such as the Oral-B Professional Series toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient.
Prevent Gum Disease
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums. Carefully follow Dr. Paul Serrano and Dr. Andrew Serrano’s directions on hygiene to avoid these problems.