Braces, wires, springs, rubber bands, and other appliances can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away. We recommend brushing after every meal or snack with fluoride toothpaste and carefully removing any food that may have gotten stuck in your braces. We can also prescribe or recommend a fluoride mouthwash, which can get into places in the mouth that a toothbrush can't reach.
Why is good oral hygiene with braces so important?
Food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce a bleaching effect, which can cause small, permanent light spots on the teeth.
To floss teeth if you have braces, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main arch wire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the arch wire. Begin brushing teeth by using a regular soft toothbrush. Brush down from the top and then up from the bottom on each tooth with braces. Next, brush your teeth with a proxabrush or "Christmas tree" brush. This brush is specially designed for cleaning between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Use several strokes in each direction before moving on to the next space between two braces. Repeat the procedure until all teeth have been cleaned.
Should any foods be avoided?
Yes. There are certain foods that can break or loosen braces and should be avoided. Other foods can stick to braces and be difficult to remove, increasing the risk for decay.
- Sweets, soda and other sugary and starchy foods
- Sticky and chewy foods (caramel, taffy, chewing gum, dried fruits)
- Hard or tough-to-bite foods, such as nuts, popcorn, hard pretzels
- Avoid damaging wires on the front teeth by cutting carrots, apples and other crunchy, healthy foods into bite-sized chunks before eating them.
Caring for Retainers
Every time you brush your teeth, brush your retainer as well. Once a day or at least once a week, disinfect the retainer by soaking it in a denture cleanser, such as Efferdent, Polident, or other brand name solutions. Add the cleanser to a cup full of warm -- but never hot -- water. Thoroughly rinse the retainer with plain water before placing it back in your mouth.
Playing Sports While Wearing Braces
You can continue to participate in any sport if you have braces. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouthguard will need to be worn. The mouthguard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over braces and will protect the soft tissues inside the mouth.