How To Clean Braces at Home
It can sometimes be challenging to decide which dental products are best to use for braces. But there's a wide range to choose from, available at your local drugstore or a major retailer.
- Floss/Interdental Cleaners
It's important to note that different interproximal cleaning tools can remove plaque biofilm and food debris. The "interproximal" spaces in your mouth are the spaces between adjoining teeth, common areas for food debris, and plaque to get stuck. Many of these products are small and lightweight, perfect for taking on-the-go. Woven dental floss, super floss, soft picks, interdental picks, and proxy brushes fall into this category. You can carry the interdental cleaning tools in your bag or purse to use when you don't have time for traditional flossing at home.
But despite the variety of available cleaning tools, it's best to use waxed floss with a floss threader for your everyday interdental cleaning needs and when cleaning your braces. Access the areas where most other devices can't reach by gliding the floss along the tooth's surface and gently cleaning the area below the gumline.
- Oral Irrigation Systems
Also known as water flossers, at-home irrigation systems push water through a device in a thin stream to directly flush around the teeth and orthodontic hardware. You can wash away food, bacteria, plaque, and acids from the hard-to-reach spots of your mouth with these systems. Oral irrigators can make your home care efforts more effective and are a great addition to your oral care routine if using floss is challenging. But it's still essential to brush your teeth twice a day and use floss around your braces, too, when able.
- Brushing Your Teeth and Brackets
While you probably think, "of course, I know how to brush my teeth!" many of us don't brush our teeth correctly. So when you get braces, it's a critical time to learn. You should hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush it back and forth at the gum line. Then sweep it toward the biting surface of your teeth. You should brush both the top and bottom surfaces of the brackets of your braces too. It may be beneficial to physically hold back your lip with one hand to have full access to your braces' brackets while you brush.
- Fluoride Treatment and Germ Killers
Germ-killing mouth rinses and antibacterial toothpaste decrease the concentration of living bacteria in your mouth. These products contain powerful germ killers to stop the cycle of plaque-related gum inflammation. A prescription fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse can also go a long way toward protecting your teeth. It can strengthen areas of exposed root surfaces that often occur among people with braces. You should consult your dental professional about whether this type of prescription is right for you.
Tooth Decay and Braces
It's ironic that while correcting your teeth with braces ultimately helps prevent cavities, there's an increased chance of decay while wearing braces.
Depending on the type of braces you wear, braces can catch bits of food and sugar from certain drinks. Once trapped, these food/drink particles cause bacteria to form. The bacteria lead to plaque deposits. And plaque buildup leads to tooth decay (aka cavities) as well as gum disease.
As you'd imagine, you're more likely to experience these issues with nonremovable braces no matter what materials they're made of. However, removable clear aligner trays and headgear braces can lead to problems without proper care.
Toothaches, chewing pain, and sensitivity to sweet, cold, or hot foods and drinks are all signs you might have one or more cavities. Tooth decay left untreated might infect a tooth's pulp. Cavities can soon progress into painful abscesses, infections, or even jaw problems. That's why it's essential to spend the extra effort keeping your braces clean to prevent tooth decay.
When To Get A Professional Cleaning
Your orthodontist may recommend that you see your dentist and dental hygienist for a checkup and dental cleaning more than the routine biannual visit you're used to. Note that your orthodontist is the one who manages your braces, but not your teeth cleaning. When your orthodontist makes this suggestion, please don't assume it means you aren't doing a great job with your at-home care. Instead, it's a preventive measure that allows you to get the professional cleaning you deserve. That way, your teeth can be as clean and healthy as possible once you're ready to remove your braces!
No one wants a cavity diagnosis or chalky white imprints to overshadow the delight of having their braces taken off. And the good news is, you can prevent these issues from forming! Whether it's with cleaning tools for braces, fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash, or guidance from your dental professional on how to brush correctly, it's critical to be informed about the daily measures you should take.
By implementing a stellar oral care routine, you'll be ensuring you've done everything you can for your mouth to be as clean and healthy as possible. After the commitment you've made to keep your teeth clean while wearing braces, aren't you excited to show off that perfect smile?