Braces are a common sight throughout the United States – especially on kids and teens. If a child has crooked teeth, parents often assume that braces are in that child’s future. The reality is that braces are designed to do more than straighten crooked teeth. The American Dental Association points out that braces are also for correcting a misaligned bite which can provide you with a healthier mouth overall by lessening your risk for issues like decay, gum disease, tooth loss, abnormal wear, and jaw problems.
The bottom line is that braces can be an important part of maximizing your overall oral health. If you currently have braces – or are thinking about seeing an orthodontist for an assessment – it is important to understand that your braces will require special care. Keep reading for some braces tips and important information about how to take care of your teeth with braces.
How to Care for Braces
Taking care of braces requires more steps and effort than caring for your teeth when you do not have braces. The brackets on your teeth and wires connecting them make it difficult to get to certain parts of your teeth while brushing and easy for food particles to become trapped. Properly caring for braces and cleaning braces effectively will help you avoid common issues like broken brackets, unsightly food particles stuck between your teeth and braces, and permanent damage to your teeth.
Some of the basics of taking care of your teeth with braces are the same as caring for your smile when you do not have braces – brush regularly, floss daily, and go to routine dental appointments for cleanings. There are some tasks you need to add to that list if you are looking for tips on how to take care of braces.
Extra Steps that Come with Taking Care of Your Teeth with Braces
The fact that it is easy for food to get trapped in your braces means that one of the most important braces tips is to brush after every meal. If you do not know how to brush your teeth with braces, the process is relatively simple. In addition to brushing your teeth straight on – as you do normally – go over your teeth with the toothbrush at an angle as well. Above the bracket, angle the toothbrush down to get the surface of your tooth and the bracket. Below the bracket, angle the toothbrush up so you can get the rest of the bracket and the tooth.
Flossing should always be a priority in your oral care routine, but it takes on a higher level of importance when you have braces. The process of flossing is a little more complicated when you have braces and requires specially designed floss for braces to make it easier. There is a lot going on in your mouth when you have braces, and it is easy to overlook food particles that you missed with brushing. It is essential to get floss for braces and go through the process of flossing at least once per day. This will help you protect your gums from disease, your teeth from decay, and your smile from being full of gunk.
In addition to going to your routine dental appointments, you will also regularly see an orthodontist when you have braces. You will see the orthodontist much more frequently than your regular dentist because braces require regular adjustments to get your bite and teeth where they need to be.
Another important braces tip to remember is that some foods can be problematic when you have braces. While you have braces, you will have to be careful about what you eat to avoid causing damage to your braces.
Negative Consequences of Neglecting Proper Braces Care
If you are looking for information about how to care for braces, then it means that you want to avoid the negative consequences that come with neglecting proper braces care. Some of the consequences are temporary, while others can cause permanent damage.
If you do not do a good job with braces cleaning, you will leave food particles stuck between your teeth and your braces. In the short term, this can be embarrassing when you smile or talk to someone and suddenly realize you have food stuck in your braces. In the long term, if you regularly do a poor job at cleaning braces, it can lead to gum disease and decay.
Another negative consequence of not taking care of your teeth with braces is that you can end up with white or yellow stains on your teeth. These stains occur when you do not adequately clean your teeth while wearing braces. Plaque will build up and eventually turn into tartar. Tartar is a hard substance that will remain on your teeth despite brushing. No matter how much you brush after getting your braces off, the tartar will remain – it will have to be scraped off. Maintaining a quality oral care routine and getting professional cleanings will help prevent this issue.
Tools for Cleaning Teeth with Braces
If you are looking for information on how to clean braces, there are some specialized tools that can help. Your orthodontist may provide you with a starter braces cleaning kit or braces care kit when you first get your braces. In addition to the starter kit from your orthodontist, tools such as floss for braces and a toothbrush for braces can make it easier for you to keep up with proper oral care.
Braces Cleaning Kit
Your orthodontist will likely help you get started with the process of taking care of your braces by providing you with a starter braces cleaning kit. This kit will likely include floss for braces, a toothbrush for braces, and orthodontic wax. The items in a braces care kit are designed to make caring for your braces easier to do.
Floss for Braces
The wire that goes across the front of your teeth – attached to the brackets – gets in the way of normal flossing. You cannot get to the gum line while flossing when your braces get in the way. There is specially designed floss for braces that makes it possible for you to get to every area of your mouth. One type of floss that can be used with braces includes a floss threader. A floss threader works with the floss in a needle and thread process. You use the threader to get the floss between your braces and then floss normally. There are also individual flossers designed to fit between your tooth and the wire of your braces.
Toothbrush for braces
A toothbrush for braces is one that is designed to get to every area of your teeth. One option is getting a V-shaped toothbrush that can get to your teeth while also cleaning the brackets. Some orthodontists also recommend electric toothbrushes to provide a quality cleaning. It is important to get to all the surface area of your teeth when you brush. This will involve using a quality toothbrush as well as giving some extra attention to how you brush.
Be Careful of Foods You Eat When You Have Braces
Some foods do not mix well with braces. You have to pay closer attention to the foods you eat while you have braces to avoid broken brackets and other common issues. For example, some types of nuts and raw carrots are foods that can be problematic when you have braces because they can cause brackets to come loose when you bite down. There are also some types of foods that are sticky and difficult to clean off of your braces or out of your teeth.
Common foods to avoid when you have braces:
- Hard nuts
- Raw carrots
- Raw celery
- Corn on the cob
- Hard candy
You should also avoid chewing gum that has sugar in it because it can become stuck in your braces and be difficult to remove. Hard, sticky candy and chewy, sticky candy should also be avoided. Your orthodontist will talk to you about common foods to avoid when you have braces. As a general rule, be careful about foods that are hard and/or sticky.
Visit the Orthodontist Regularly
One of the most important elements of caring for your braces is seeing an orthodontist regularly. Getting your teeth and bite aligned is a process that requires regular attention and adjustments from an orthodontist. You may see your orthodontist at different intervals during treatment ranging from monthly to once every two months. Getting behind on your regular orthodontist visits can cause you to be in braces longer and leave your teeth susceptible to long-term damage.
Find an Orthodontist Near You to Discuss Braces Care
Your best resource for information about and help with taking care of braces is a local orthodontist. You need to have a trusted orthodontist in your area who can monitor your progress and make adjustments to your treatment as needed. If you recently moved and need a local orthodontist, and you're asking where to find a trusted orthodontist near me, you can search for orthodontists in your area using Smile Generation’s find-a-dentist tool. This tool lets you search by area and specialty.
If you have a child you want to get checked out for orthodontal care – the American Association of Orthodontists recommends having all children assessed by an orthodontist by the age of seven – the find-a-dentist tool will help you get a list of options in your area. You can also explore the financial solutions available through the Smile Generation to help you figure out how to pay for any of the orthodontic treatments your child may need.