The Do’s and Don’ts of Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Braces

It can be overwhelming at first to adjust to braces, but it gets easier quickly. There are many new things to learn, and your orthodontist and their team can help you whenever you need it. 

Maintaining a solid oral hygiene routine should always be at the top of your priority list. But the process takes on a whole new level when wearing braces. Some things will make this easier and some will hinder it and you need to know what they are.

You have committed to work hard to reach your goal of a beautiful smile with straight teeth. Let’s learn what those “Do’s” and “Don’ts” are so you don’t end up with stains, spots, and tooth decay to spoil your new look.

In this article, we’ve broken down some of the most important tips for oral hygiene with braces to help you keep your teeth and gums as clean and healthy as possible.

Tips to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Clean and Protected

Let’s look at the “Gold Standard Oral Hygiene Rules” while wearing braces to make sure you enjoy the smile you deserve:

The “Do’s”:

Cavities, gum disease, and tooth discoloration: These are the results of neglecting oral hygiene at any time, but especially when you have braces. Here are some specific actions that will help prevent these negative results and protect your braces from damage, too:

Do Brush and Floss Effectively 

A good routine with brushing and flossing is always at the top of the dental care list. But when you wear braces, the process is more challenging. Food can get trapped among the wires and brackets and turn into harmful bacteria with many nasty consequences. It takes some practice to know how to clean braces. 

Angle the toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle. This will enable optimum cleaning of the gums as well as between gaps in your braces. Use a toothbrush with a soft head and do your best to brush after every meal. Use fluoride toothpaste and invest in an interdental brush or a water flosser to access hard-to-reach areas. Floss between your teeth and the braces wire after every meal, too. 

Buy a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to carry with you at all times. Make it a habit to brush and floss immediately after every meal. Diligent attention to both of these actions will keep food from becoming stuck to your teeth and braces. 

Do Rinse After Eating

The ideal is to brush and floss after every meal, but what if you can’t do that? Although it’s not as good, you can at least rinse your mouth with water after eating. Take a sip of water, rinse vigorously back and forth around your teeth, and then spit the water out. Do this several times to get as much debris away from your teeth and braces as possible. Carry a travel-size bottle of fluoride mouthwash with you and finish with the mouthwash.

Do Eat “Braces-Friendly” Foods

Eating enjoyable foods doesn’t have to stop! Here are some great braces-friendly foods:

  • Soups
  • Shakes
  • Yogurt, including frozen
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Soft cheeses
  • Soft fruits
  • Pasta
  • Cooked rice and grains

Do Protect Your Teeth If You Play Sports

Life doesn’t stop when you get braces. Talk to your orthodontist about getting an orthodontic mouthguard to protect your braces and your teeth while playing sports. Make it a habit to use the mouthguard every time you practice or play. 

Your decision to get braces represents an investment in both time and money. Why put that investment at risk by not protecting both your braces and your teeth while still staying active? The mouthguard will absorb any impact and save you from painful cuts inside the soft tissues of your mouth. It will also keep your braces from being damaged. 

If you wear Invisalign clear aligners, you must still get a mouthguard. The aligners themselves are not thick or sturdy enough to act as a mouthguard and won’t protect your mouth from injury.

Do Keep Going to the Orthodontist and Dentist

Your braces require extra time and attention, but your overall oral health can’t be ignored during this time. Your orthodontist is the expert for anything related to your braces, so adhere to your schedule of regular appointments with them. They are also available in the event of any problems or concerns you may have with your braces.

Your dentist is part of your oral health team, too, and that doesn’t end while you have braces. It is even more important during this time to maintain your regular exams and cleanings with your dentist and hygienist. 

The “Don’ts”:

Now that you know the things that you should be doing, here are some things to avoid, at least until your braces are removed:

Don’t Remove the Elastic Bands

They may be annoying and hard to clean around, but the bands are slowly moving your teeth out of their misaligned positions. Your orthodontist has carefully calculated the tension needed each time they adjust the bands. If you remove them or try to adjust them yourself, you will slow down the process and could even injure your mouth or the braces. 

Don’t Eat Sticky or Hard Foods

There are some food items that you should avoid when you have braces. It’s easy to remember: Don’t eat sticky and hard foods. They can break or bend the braces or get stuck to them or your teeth. 

Here are some specific things that should be avoided until your braces are removed:

  • Popcorn
  • Corn on the cob
  • Nuts
  • Hard breads and rolls, including bagels
  • Hard or sticky candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Pretzels, chips, hard taco shells
  • Pizza crust
  • Ice
  • Crunchy veggies and fruits

If you find you don’t want to remove all these things from your diet, such as veggies and fruits, cut them into small pieces before eating them. This will put less wear and tear on your braces.

Don’t Bite Your Nails Or Chew On Objects Like Pencils

Much like the list of foods just covered, it is also important to keep your fingers, pencils, pens, and any other hard objects out of your mouth. This often happens without any awareness so be mindful of protecting the braces at all times. The brackets and wires can be damaged before you know it by chewing on these items.

The Bottom Line When It Comes to Oral Hygiene With Braces

Your journey while wearing braces doesn’t have to be filled with hardship. By following some basic do’s and don’ts as you work toward your beautiful new smile, you will keep your teeth clean and healthy, your treatment plan will stay on track, and your braces will be off before you know it.

Our team at Amy James & Associates Orthodontists is ready to be part of your journey to achieve a smile that you are proud to show off. We have the training and experience to assist you from start to finish. Our priority is to provide the highest quality orthodontic care in a clean and friendly environment. We utilize the latest orthodontic technology, such as 3D X-rays and imaging that help us provide a thorough diagnosis and the most accurate and effective treatment plan.

We know that every patient has different needs and we pride ourselves in the courteous service we deliver to each person who comes to us for their orthodontic needs.

Contact us today with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment!

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