Most people are familiar with traditional braces, which consist of brackets on the front surfaces of the teeth that hold horizontal archwires in place. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), plaque easily collects around these brackets, and poor oral hygiene while wearing braces can lead to periodontal (gum) disease and permanent staining of the teeth. Therefore, gently brush around your brackets and wires after every meal using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush such as Colgate® Slim Soft™. You should also floss once a day and swish with an over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinse often recommended by your orthodontist.
It's a good idea to regularly inspect your braces each time you clean your teeth to check for loose or broken appliances. To prevent this kind of damage, the AAO advises orthodontic patients to avoid hard, sticky or chewy foods. These items include nuts, gum, gummy bears or even popcorn. Biting into hard fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots is also a cause for concern, but you may eat these foods if you cut them into small pieces that don't aggravate the wiring. Additionally, chewing on your nails, pen caps or ice can break your braces, so kicking these habits is a must.
The American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends protective mouthguards for kids who play sports, but especially for those who wear braces. In addition to protecting the cheeks and lips from serious cuts, these soft mouth guards prevent damage to your braces or appliances if you or your children should fall or sustain a hit to the face.