Oral Health Buzz
How to Clean Braces
Diana Tosuni-O'Neill RDH, BS
Having braces can be a real challenge when it comes to oral hygiene care. It is estimated that about 3 million teenagers and many adults wear braces today. Now comes the task of how to clean braces. It is during the orthodontic treatment that it is critical that proper oral hygiene be maintained to prevent dental problems.
Establishing a daily oral hygiene routine is crucial when wearing braces. A little more effort will be required to get your child to understand the importance of doing a meticulous job of cleaning his teeth on a daily basis. This can be accomplished with extra encouragement of the child to be thorough and patient. Proper oral care is key to avoiding dental problems such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and cavities (decay of the teeth). It is imperative to remove food and plaque (sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth) from around the brackets and wires to avoid these oral health issues.
How To Clean Braces
- Brush at least 3 times per day (to remove food debris and plaque).
- Use a soft, round-bristle toothbrush.
- Floss daily (use a floss threader).
- Use an interproximal brush if you have space between the teeth.
- Brush with an electric toothbrush as an added aid (to clean the gumline, tooth surface and to clean around brackets).
- Use an oral irrigator (apply an antimicrobial agent in the reservoir to help kill plaque biofilm).
- Rinse with an anti-cavity fluoride rinse.
The Importance of Brushing and Flossing
Proper oral care is key to avoiding gingivitis. To brush teeth with braces, gently move the toothbrush back and forth to remove food debris and bacterial plaque using a 45° degree angle with the bristles pointed toward the gumline. Then brush on top of the brackets and below the brackets to remove plaque around this area and the elastics, focus next on the space between the teeth and being as thorough as possible. Pay particular attention to the area where the gums and teeth meet; this is the site where damaging plaque accumulates and can cause gingivitis.
Alternative methods are warranted, such as floss threaders, which help to maneuver dental floss between wires, brackets and the teeth. Thread floss underneath or over the wires since this is the most effective way to eliminate food and plaque buildup between the teeth. Interproximal brushes are a great alternative cleaning tool because they can slip under the arch wire. Additionally, oral irrigators can be utilized to flush out debris (food and plaque) from around the braces. It is important to find a method that works at the individual's level and to maintain a good, daily oral hygiene routine.
Keeping your teeth clean and your gums healthy is paramount when wearing braces. Poor oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment can accelerate inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Even if you brush and floss very well, a professional dental cleaning is also essential to general oral hygiene and braces care.
Foods to Avoid
Eating healthy foods is imperative for those who wear braces. A balanced diet of nutritious foods and limited between-meal snacks should be maintained. The avoidance of certain foods, such as popcorn, jellybeans, taffy, nuts, gum, hard candy, caramel, ice and sticky foods, should be advised. Sugary drinks and juices can be a problem as well because they contribute to tooth decay. These tips are central to keeping your teeth and gums healthy during orthdontic wear.
Oral Care Products To Consider
Choose dental products that are significant in the quest for optimal oral care, such as Colgate® Total® toothpaste, which protects against plaque and gingivitis formation. Using Colgate® Phos-Flur® Fluoride Rinse will provide additional protection where it is difficult to clean between teeth. Establishing an oral hygiene regimen is vital when wearing braces and contributes greatly to a child's or adult's oral health and overall wellness.
Learn more about how to brush teeth with braces in the Colgate Oral Care resources.