Taking good care of your braces can help prevent damage to your teeth, gums, and the braces themselves. It can also help ensure your orthodontic treatment goes according to plan, and that there are no delays.
Braces have all sorts of tiny spaces and crevices that should be carefully cleaned to prevent plaque and bacteria from building up inside and around them. Follow these steps to brush and floss effectively with braces.
Prepare to brush. Remove the elastics and any other removable components of your braces.
Brush your braces. Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, brush around the wires and pins of your braces. Brush from the top of every wire to the bottom. Move from tooth to tooth methodically to try and get all plaque and debris brushed away.
Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth one by one. Start by placing your brush at a 45-degree angle on the gum line, and then brush in a circular motion, applying gentle pressure. Dedicate about 10 seconds per tooth, and brush all the outer and inner tooth surfaces of each one. An electric toothbrush with a round, rotating head can help to make this process much easier.
Floss daily. Thread the floss between the main wire and your teeth. Gently press the floss between the first two teeth, and slide it up and down along the side of one tooth, and then the other. Gently remove the floss, unthread it from behind the wire, and then repeat the process between the next pair of teeth.
Rinse and check your teeth. Once you are finished brushing and flossing, rinse thoroughly with water or mouthwash and examine your teeth and braces in the mirror to make sure you haven't missed anything.
You'll probably need to make a few dietary adjustments to protect your braces. The general rule of thumb is that any soft, non-sticky foods are safe to eat with braces, while hard, chewy or crunchy foods should be avoided. Here are some examples:
Foods you can eat with braces:
- Dairy – yogurt, soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Eggs – cooked however you like
- Bread & Grains – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins, pasta, rice
- Meats/poultry – tender cooked meats, meatballs, lunch meats, etc.
- Vegetables – mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, beans
- Fruit – soft fruits, hard fruits cut into small pieces, applesauce, fruit juice, smoothies, berries
- Treats – ice cream, milkshakes, Jell-O, plain soft chocolates, peanut butter cups, brownies, soft cookies.
Foods to avoid with braces:
- Chewy foods – bagels, licorice, pizza crust, French bread
- Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, ice, hard candies, thick pretzels
- Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum, gummy candies
- Hard foods – nuts, uncooked carrots, toffee
- Foods that require biting into – apples, corn on the cob, carrots, ribs and chicken wings
Regular Orthodontic Appointments
During your braces treatment, you should attend regular appointments with your orthodontist to have the braces tightened and adjusted. This will ensure that the braces continue to do their job properly. It also gives your orthodontist an opportunity to evaluate your progress and ensure there are no problems.
Regular Dental Appointments
You also should continue visiting your regular dentist for cleanings and checkups, just like you usually do. Professional cleanings and checkups are essential for oral health because even the most rigorous brushing and flossing routine might not remove hardened tartar. In addition, your dentist will be able to monitor your oral health, and ensure there are no cavities or other problems developing.