Maintaining good oral health is important whether you are undergoing orthodontic treatment or not. Incorporating a good oral hygiene routine into your daily practice is vital to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay. When you have braces fitted or another type of orthodontic device, this routine becomes even more important because wearing any type of dental appliance increases the risk of food and bacteria becoming trapped around your teeth.
Let’s take a look at why and how good oral hygiene is so important when on your orthodontic journey.
Why is it so Important to Maintain Oral Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment?
We all know that without a good oral routine, our risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease is heightened, not to mention unsightly stains on our teeth and even tooth loss but when you introduce an orthodontic device into the mix, one that sits against our teeth for a long period of time, this risk intensifies.
The main problem when it comes to these issues is dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky biofilm containing microorganisms and saliva proteins which allow bacteria, normally present in the mouth, to bind together and become attached to the tooth's surface. The more dental plaque allowed to build in the mouth, the bigger the bacterial colonies grow. With orthodontic appliances fitted to the surface of your teeth, plaque can become increasingly difficult to remove.
How Orthodontic Appliances Can Increase the Risk to Your Dental Health.
The microorganisms in plaque feed on the sugars found in food and over time create an acid that weakens and erodes tooth enamel, which can eventually cause enamel lesions. These lesions can often appear as white spots on the teeth, also known as decalcification spots, and without proper treatment, can turn into cavities.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is the only way to remove dental plaque, if not thoroughly removed, plaque can harden into a calculus or tartar, which can then only be removed during a professional dental cleaning by scaling or scraping the teeth.
If plaque and calculus are left on your teeth for too long, they can start to infect and inflame your gums, which then leads to more complicated oral health conditions such as gum disease, bleeding, and gum recession, and may eventually affect the bone supporting your teeth.
How You Can Ensure Your Smile is Properly Looked After
It’s no easy task keeping your teeth properly cleaned during orthodontic treatment, but there are ways to ensure you maintain it as best you can throughout.
Speak with Your Orthodontist.
They will explain in detail how to properly clean your teeth, when, and for how long. The tools you receive to clean your teeth will be properly explained to ensure you understand how to use them.
Cleaning in and around your brackets and wires is essential to ensure no bits of food become lodged and create extra bacteria in the mouth. Your orthodontist will provide you with interdental brushes, soft-bristled toothbrushes, dental floss, and plaque-disclosing tablets among other tools.
Using a Bi-Level and Interdental Toothbrush.
These are toothbrushes that have shorter bristles in the middle and longer around the outside and can be effective for cleaning around the braces. It’s important to apply a good amount of pressure when brushing but not to brush too hard.
Flossing can be tricky with braces but there are products designed to help, including floss threaders which are designed to get in between your wires and gum line. You may also find water flossers easier to use which squirt pressurised water in between your teeth to dislodge debris. If flossing is difficult, an interdental brush (a Christmas tree-shaped brush) can work to reach in between the brackets and wires.
Plaque Disclosing Tablets.
These are small, chewable tablets made from a special dye that turns any remaining plaque on your teeth a different colour, so you can ensure as much plaque can be removed as possible.
Limiting Sugar Intake.
Whilst everything we eat can have an impact on our oral health, sugar is one that really needs to be watched during your orthodontic treatment. Many foods and drinks we consume every day have hidden sugars and the bacteria on our teeth process these sugars into acid, which can lead to tooth decay. Limiting sugar intake to no more than 30g per day for adults (7 sugar cubes), for children aged 7 to 10 24g per day (6 cubes), and for children aged 4 to 6 19g per day (5 cubes).
The Importance of a Good Diet.
It’s important to understand the foods to avoid whilst wearing your braces and the foods that can help to build healthier teeth and gums. Some foods to avoid include chewing gum, ice, sticky or hard chocolate, popcorn, nuts, and hard or chewy sweets. Foods that help improve your oral health include cheese, fish, oranges, vegetables, and green and black tea. It’s also important to drink plenty of water as it is the body’s natural defence against tooth decay, breaking down, and neutralising acids.
What is a Good Oral Hygiene Routine during Orthodontic Treatment?
Here is a good oral health care routine for you to follow during your orthodontic treatment-
- Brush using fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush for 2 minutes, twice a day and after any meal or snack.
- Floss using a floss threader to get in between brackets and wires once a day.
- Use an interdental brush to help clean in between your teeth and the brackets as an alternative if flossing is too difficult.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash if advised by your orthodontist to clear any debris.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Your Orthodontist in Oldham: How We Can Help You
Here at Oldham Orthodontics, we offer a wide range of the latest orthodontic treatments to help children and adults gain beautifully straight smiles. Our team of highly qualified and experienced, specialist orthodontists provide the very best orthodontic care and knowledge in a comfortable and friendly environment.
We are a specialist orthodontist in Oldham treating a variety of patients from children under 18 who qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment to adults in need of invisible and virtually invisible braces.
Contact us today, your orthodontist in Oldham, and see how we can help you.