Woman brushing her teeth in front of the bathroom mirror

How To Practice Good Oral Hygiene With Braces

When you have straight teeth, you're more likely to feel better about your smile, and your teeth will harbor fewer bacteria because they're easier for you to clean, too. But if you need braces to achieve alignment, metal brackets and wires can create a temporary oral hygiene challenge. If you're wondering how best to care for teeth with a mouth full of metal, read on. We'll give you some helpful tips and advice to get your smile to a place you can, well... smile about.

Other Benefits of Wearing Braces

A little extra effort to care for your teeth while wearing braces is more than worth it. When you have straight teeth, you'll have a decreased risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and your gums may support your teeth better when they aren't overlapping. You also have a reduced risk of chipping, breaking, or wearing away your teeth when they fit together correctly. Braces could even relieve abnormal stress put on your jaw from misaligned teeth. All these benefits could very well be the reason that braces aren't just for children anymore. The American Association of Orthodontists reports a record number of patients over 18 seeking orthodontic treatment.

How To Practice Good Oral Hygiene With Braces

When you have the right cleaning products and know how to care for your teeth with braces, you may find that practicing good oral hygiene is easier than you thought:

  • Brush after you eat.
    Keep a soft, round-bristle toothbrush with you because you should brush after every meal or snack.
  • Brush at the gumline and below the brackets.
    Brush at a 45-degree angle with the bristles pointed toward your gumline. Then brush on top of your brackets and below your brackets.
  • Floss at least once daily.
    Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers.
  • Swish with an antimicrobial mouthrinse.
    And use a tongue scraper, too!
  • Visit your dental professional for regular appointments.
    Be sure to continue seeing your dental professional for appointments so they can catch any developing conditions early and give you advice on care for your specific needs.

If you find yourself without a toothbrush after eating a snack or a meal, a quick alternative is to swish water around your mouth to remove any food particles that might be stuck in your teeth.

Foods to Avoid

Eating healthy foods is important if you wear braces because if you get sugary foods stuck in your brackets, it's more likely to cause tooth decay. Other foods you should avoid because they could damage your braces include:

  • Popcorn
  • Jellybeans
  • Taffy
  • Nuts
  • Gum
  • Hard candy
  • Caramel
  • Ice
  • And other hard or sticky foods

When you first get braces, they can be uncomfortable, and practicing good oral hygiene can seem challenging. But much of the discomfort goes away, and like any new undertaking, when you do it enough, it merely becomes part of your routine. Before you know it, you'll be getting your braces removed with straight, pearly white teeth that will make you smile. (Don't forget to wear your retainer!)

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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