Taking care of your braces actually involves taking care of your teeth, while you are wearing braces! This involves two key areas: firstly, how to keep your teeth and braces clean and secondly, what you eat.
6 steps to cleaning your teeth and braces
It’s a fact that taking care of your teeth will be more difficult after your braces are fitted. Braces have countless tiny spaces to trap food, and this trapped food causes plaque, which can potentially lead to other dental problems. So follow this simple guide to ensure you look after your teeth while you have braces.
1. Brush your teeth and braces at least twice a day
First, remove the elastics and any other removable parts of your braces but do not ‘play’ with the wires. As normal, brush your teeth for at least two minutes using a circular motion and be sure to get under the wires. Use your brush at a 45-degree angle and brush from the top and the bottom of each wire.
2. Floss your teeth
A catchphrase of orthodontists is “only floss the teeth you want to keep!” So make sure you floss every tooth, even the ones in the far back. Thread the floss string and push it down under the wires between your brackets. It is also worth purchasing “super floss,” a strong type of floss specially designed for cleaning around braces.
3. Use an interdental brush
It is best to supplement your brushing by using interdental brushes (also known as proxabrushes or “Christmas tree brushes”). These are specially designed for cleaning in between braces. Gently clean between brackets (under the wires) with the interdental brush to get all the plaque off.
4. Invest in a water flosser
While not essential for brace care, you may want to use a water flosser to help you flush out any debris from under the wires.
5. Check for plaque
You can purchase tablets for disclosing plaque from your local chemist. These show you where any plaque is located. Use them after you have brushed and flossed to help you find any leftover plaque.
6. Finish with mouthwash
Finish your routine by using mouthwash to rinse your mouth. Make sure that the mouthwash is one that helps remove plaque. This also makes your breath smell fresh!
Advice for Eating with Braces
There are a number of foods that should be avoided when wearing braces in order to avoid broken wires and brackets causing pain and potentially prolonging treatment.
Generally, it is best to completely rule out anything hard, chewy or sticky. Examples of food not to eat include:
- Toffee and caramel
- Chocolate bars with sticky centres
- Boiled sweets
- Wine gums, gummy bears and other chewy sweets
- Chewing gum
There are also some items that should be eaten carefully:
- Chewy bread and cakes such as bagels and doughnuts – tear into small pieces
- Crisps – eat them carefully and one at a time
- Corn on the cob – eat off the cob, don’t chew on it!
- Apples and carrots – cut into small pieces
Finally, don’t chew on any hard items such as ice, the ends of pens and pencils, or fingernails.