If you wear braces, congratulations! You are doing something positive to help straighten your teeth and improve your dental function.
Good oral hygiene is important when you have braces.
Because food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay. The bacteria in plaque feed on the food debris in your mouth. The bacteria release acid that attacks and dissolves the enamel surface of your teeth. If the bacteria and food debris are not removed, the acid will continue to attack the tooth, and a hole or cavity will form. Even if the acid attack is halted from improved oral hygiene, permanent light or dark spots may form on the teeth.
It’s best to brush after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can also use a proxy brush for hard-to-reach spots. Use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss at least once a day to clean between teeth and under wires. Rinse thoroughly and check your teeth in a mirror to make sure all food particles are gone. If you do not have a toothbrush handy, rinse your mouth vigorously with water.
When you wear braces, it’s best to avoid foods that can damage or dislodge braces and possibly extend your treatment.
Sticky and chewy foods like caramel, taffy, chewing gum, and dried fruit can get stuck between teeth and gums, bend wires or knock bands or brackets loose. Biting and chewing hard foods, such as candy, nuts, ice, beef jerky, and popcorn, can break wires and loosen brackets. You can avoid damaging wires on the front teeth by cutting carrots, apples, and other crunchy, healthy foods into bite-sized chunks before eating them. And remember to avoid sweets, soda, and other sugary and starchy foods that can promote tooth decay and gum disease.
Other practices dentists suggest that you avoid when wearing braces are: thumb sucking, excessive mouth breathing, lip biting, and pushing your tongue against your teeth. Part of your orthodontic treatment is regular dentist visits to have the wires tightened. This causes pressure on the teeth and some discomfort. Soft foods and a pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. Another source of discomfort can occur when braces rub against the inside of the lips. If this is a problem, a special wax can be placed on the wires to keep them from chafing.
Taking proper care of your braces and your teeth will help make your orthodontic experience a successful one and give you a bright, healthy smile.