Oral hygiene routines are important for everyone, whether you have 1 tooth or 32 teeth! But how does having braces change your oral hygiene needs? It is common for orthodontic brackets to collect more food and plaque and require more attention and time to care for. We have some tips to help you with your oral hygiene and orthodontic journey!
Invest in the tools for success – Electric toothbrushes are great for orthodontic patients. The gentle vibrations help to remove plaque from hard to reach areas. Flossing is more difficult with wires and brackets but possible. Floss threaders have a thick end to help thread the floss under the wire (your orthodontist or dentist can demonstrate how to use this type of floss if you are having trouble!). Water flossers are another option to help flush out trapped food or plaque from along the gumline or around brackets. Brushing after each meal is recommended during orthodontic treatment, always have back up toothbrushes – your toothbrush will become worn much quicker with more frequent brushing.
Create a routine – rinse with water to loosen plaque/food, brush and floss (floss at least once daily). Check your kiddos teeth to make sure they properly brushed their teeth. Ask your orthodontist if they recommend a mouthrinse as well!
Visit your dentist regularly – 6 month checkups (if not more frequently) are important during orthodontic treatment. Plaque and food sticks to the teeth and brackets and cleanings/checkups with your dental provider will ensure the teeth are getting properly cleaned and checked for cavities. Something we see as a result of poor oral hygiene is called white spot decalcifications. These are areas where the enamel has been weakened due to acidic bacterial plaque exposure. Gingivitis – irritated, red, inflamed gum tissue – is a mild form of gum disease. This is caused by plaque sitting along the gumline. Plaque along the gums and brackets will appear as a sticky, white film. With proper oral hygiene at home and professional cleanings, along with oral hygiene instruction from your dental team, we can help to avoid these issues.
Be involved in your child’s dental hygiene and orthodontic care – while it’s exciting when your kids want to be independent and brush their teeth on their own, sometimes they still need some assistance. Have your child lift their top lip/pull down their bottom lip after brushing. You will be able to see the tooth structure and their gumline – if you see any irritation or white, sticky plaque along the gums or brackets, you may need to help with brushing.
Have more questions about dental hygiene during orthodontic treatment? Ask one of our Bite Size dental providers at both the Frankfort and Oak Lawn locations!