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When you have braces, it is critical to brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit your dentist for check-ups. This is the best way to ensure your orthodontic treatment delivers the healthiest smile possible. Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but you’ll be rewarded with a great-looking smile once your braces come off. In this article, I’ll review exactly how to care for your braces, including foods to skip and how to troubleshoot problems that may occur.
Braces do more than improve your smile
Braces improve the aesthetic look of your smile, but they also play a larger role in your oral health and overall wellness. Correcting overcrowded and misaligned teeth is one of the primary functions of orthodontic treatment. Fixing these issues is essential because an irregular bite can result in the improper removal of plaque around the misaligned teeth. This can lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
Furthermore, an abnormal bite can cause TMJ discomfort. TMJ is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the skull. Unless fixed, this misalignment can increase the chance of injury to the jaw joint. A poor bite may also lead to speech difficulties, headaches, social anxiety, and premature wear of tooth enamel.
Brushing and flossing with braces
Dental hygiene is critical when you have braces. It takes more time and effort to brush and floss your teeth correctly when you are wearing braces. When brushing and flossing your teeth, you have to be gentle, so you don’t damage the wires or brackets.
Using a toothbrush with soft bristles is highly recommended. This allows the bristles to get around and under the brackets easier. You should still brush in a small, circular motion above and below the bracket at a 45-degree angle to your gum line. Brushing around the wires should be done as well because it is a common area for food to get trapped.
Use an antibacterial mouthwash to help remove food debris and bacteria. This is especially the case if you are experiencing post-adjustment soreness and your teeth are sensitive.
Flossing after meals is encouraged when you have braces because it can get rid of food particles stuck between teeth, the wires, or the brackets. A floss threader is recommended to ensure you can get underneath the archwire easily. You can also use an interdental brush to help remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.
Foods to skip
When your braces are applied, your orthodontist will provide you with a list of foods to avoid. It is best to avoid all chewy, sticky, and hard foods.
Crunchy foods, such as crisps, pretzels, and popcorn, can cause brackets to snap off if they get lodged between wires. On the other hand, sticky foods, such as caramel and gum, can stick to your braces. This can potentially cause a bracket to pop off (yikes).
Apples, corn of the cob, and other foods that you need to bite into should be skipped because they can harm the wires and brackets. Cut apples and other fruits and vegetables into manageable bite-sized pieces. Chewing ice is another thing that can damage braces and should be avoided.
Protecting your braces
Avoid biting your fingernails or chewing on objects like pens and pencils because they can damage the brackets of your braces.
Always wear a mouthguard when you participate in contact sports like soccer, football, hockey, and basketball. Mouthguards help to protect your braces, teeth, and the soft tissues of your mouth from trauma. As a result, it is best to wear a top and a bottom mouthguard when you have braces.
Troubleshooting your braces
Even with the best care for your braces a bracket or wire can come loose or snap off. What you should do if something is wrong depends on the severity of the damage.
If a bracket comes off, you will need to visit your orthodontist right away. Be extra cautious with broken wires because you don’t want to swallow it or breathe it in accidentally. Special wax for braces can help to cover a sharp wire end that is sticking out or even temporarily reattach a loose wire to the bracket.
If you get hit in the mouth and a tooth cracks or has a big chip, contact your dentist for an emergency appointment.
Visit the orthodontist regularly
During your orthodontic treatment, you will visit your orthodontist every few weeks for an adjustment and to monitor your progress. A routine orthodontic adjustment may include tightening the wires, changing to a stiffer archwire, adding bands or headgear, or whatever else is needed for your individualized treatment plan.
Most patients experience soreness after an adjustment for a few hours to a couple of days after their appointment. Return to a soft diet and other pain management techniques to deal with post-adjustment soreness.
Skipping orthodontic appointments can delay your progress and extend your treatment plan.
Lastly, regular checkups with your dentist are important too. In fact, depending on the condition of teeth and gums, your dentist may recommend more frequent hygiene cleanings while you are undergoing orthodontic treatment because of your risk for developing cavities and other dental issues increases.
You’re now fully prepared to properly care for your braces and any complications that may occur during wear. If you have any additional questions, comment below or schedule an appointment with an Orthodontist to learn more.
Do you have a tip on how to care for braces? Please share in the comments below!
Guest author: This article was provided by the dental team at Oxford House Dental in Milton Keynes, established in 1954. It has a special dental team and offers excellent dental care. A few of the services they offer include cosmetic dental treatments and dental implants including Invisalign.