Oral HygienePhiladelphia, PA

A patient’s oral hygiene habits are a key factor in the success of orthodontic treatment. Braces can work wonders for the health, appearance, and function of a smile. Though braces offer many benefits, they are not without challenges. Extra precaution and regular checkups with an orthodontist are essential to help take care of the teeth, prevent the risk of decay, and avoid other oral health issues.

Our team wants to make sure all patients are able to get the most out of their orthodontic treatment by making sure they know how to take proper care of their teeth. If you want to know more about maintaining good oral hygiene while wearing braces, we can help. Call (215) 240-8243 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Request An Appointment

The Importance of Oral Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment

Overall, the benefits of braces outweigh any potential problems. A properly-aligned smile is aesthetically pleasing and easier to keep clean. Better chewing ability, speech, and improved oral health are among the chief benefits orthodontics offer, provided the patient is committed to good oral hygiene.

Oral hygiene is always important, but it is even more so during orthodontic treatment. Though braces work to align teeth for optimal oral health, they increase a patient’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease during treatment. This increased risk is not due to the braces themselves. Rather, they make the teeth more challenging to clean, and the brackets and wires create more hard-to-reach places for plaque to collect. This increases the likelihood of cavities along with inflammation of the gums.

According to the Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry, periodontal complications are the most common side effect of orthodontic therapy and the lack of adequate cleaning is a leading factor. We can provide the proper checkups and regular appointments patients need to maintain healthy teeth during orthodontic treatment.

Exams and Appointments

Here at Aces Braces, we understand the importance of adequate dental health during treatment and take extra steps to make sure we do our part to make sure treatment is a success. Treatment starts with an evaluation of a patient’s oral health and a comprehensive exam, including X-rays. We want to be aware of any ongoing oral health issues the patient may have that could impact treatment. Our goal is to make sure a patient’s mouth is in the best condition it can be before treatment starts.

Treatment length varies per patient, but a patient can expect to see us about every four to six weeks. These appointments give us the chance to check the patient’s progress, make adjustments and correct any problems that arise. Also, our team will want to ensure the patient is following the recommended hygiene guidelines, so the teeth stay healthy throughout treatment.

Brushing and Flossing

When it comes to home oral care, there is much a patient can do to prevent potential problems. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends those with braces brush after every meal or snack or at least rinse the mouth out with water. Patients should brush in small circles for at least two minutes, being sure to get every surface, including the tongue, gums, and roof of the mouth. Flossing at least once a day is essential. It is recommended patients use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.

Tools That Help

Proper technique is important, as is the right set of tools. Patients should use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is easy on enamel and the gums. Be sure to replace that toothbrush about every 12 to 16 weeks.

While braces can add a new level of difficulty to flossing, patients can use floss threaders to more easily clean in between teeth. Interdental brushes are helpful in getting those hard-to-reach places such as between teeth, around brackets, and between the archwire and the teeth. Other helpful tools include a water flosser, a tongue scraper, and a power toothbrush.

Foods and Bad Habits to Avoid

Most people find they have to be more mindful of their eating habits during orthodontic treatment. Certain sugary, sticky, or acidic foods can damage orthodontic appliances as well as stay stuck to teeth, especially in the little nooks and crannies created between teeth and brackets and wires. Patients can still enjoy much of the same foods but eat them in a different way. For example, eating apple slices instead of biting into a whole apple. However, there are especially problematic foods it is best to avoid, such as:

  • Any type of hard candy
  • Bagels
  • Caramels and taffy
  • Gum and chewy candies
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn and potato chips

Avoid chewing on ice and cut hard foods like carrots into small manageable pieces. Other oral health habits that can damage teeth and braces include teeth grinding, biting on pens or other hard objects, and engaging in high contact sports without a mouthguard. Our team is here to offer advice to patients for making their oral habits braces-friendly.

Call Us Today

If you are committed to maintaining good oral health during treatment, braces can offer you a lifetime of healthy and straight smiles. We are here to help you get the most out of your treatment. Call us now at (215) 240-8243 to learn more and schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What precautions should I take if I am involved in high contact sports?

A. A mouthguard is recommended for anyone playing high contact sports, whether they have braces or not. Wearing a mouthguard during any activity that puts you at risk of an injury to the mouth can add extra protection to the teeth. Our team strongly advises patients to use a specially made orthodontic mouthguard.

Q. Will teeth grinding affect my braces?

A. Teeth grinding can undo some of the accomplishments of braces by wearing down teeth and causing them to shift out of alignment. Sometimes it is recommended to get bruxism (teeth grinding) under control before orthodontic work begins. Other times orthodontic work is needed in part to help correct this problem. There are mouthguards one can wear to guard against bruxism. Our team will examine your case and make suggestions.

Q. What if one of my brackets comes loose?

A. Sometimes we try to do everything right and avoid the wrong foods, but accidents still happen. If a bracket breaks loose, do not panic. This is not usually considered a dental emergency. Often, the bracket breaks loose but is still attached to the wire, or the bracket breaks completely off. If this happens, keep the detached bracket and bring it to the next appointment to be recemented. If you suspect the damage is more extensive, please call our office so we may advise you.

Q. What should I do before getting braces?

A. Our staff will evaluate you carefully and give you any advice as to services you may want to consider before having braces put on. Usually, any cavities that need fillings or other dental work are best handled before orthodontic treatment begins. On the day your braces are placed on, come to the office with brushed, flossed, and clean teeth free of debris.

Q. How do I avoid my teeth being discolored after my braces come off?

A. Oral hygiene is central to keeping your teeth looking their best during and after treatment. Plaque can lead to permanent white marks of decalcification if allowed to accumulate around the brackets. However, the suggested oral hygiene tips are your best defense against this. We also suggest avoiding smoking, coffee, or consuming any product that can stain your teeth. Drinking lots of water and regular bruising will also keep teeth clear of agents that can discolor them.