You’ve just had your brand new braces put on and are well on the way to straighter teeth! It’s very important that you clean your braces and teeth well during your orthodontic treatment in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Firstly, you must brush thoroughly at least twice a day – after breakfast and dinner. If possible, it’s also great to brush after lunch, but we know this isn’t always practical if you’re at school or work. We find that electric brushes with round heads are great as these will oscillate and help you to clean more thoroughly. You can use a soft manual brush also. Make sure to brush for at least 2 minutes, and angle the brush head 45 degrees towards the brackets. It’s also very important to brush the gumlines to prevent swollen, inflamed gums.
Piksters (interdental brushes) are great for cleaning around and in between each bracket. Be sure to use these at least once per day (preferably after your night time brushing). Making sure to use a large sized pikster (size 6 or 7), push under the wire and using a back and forth motion clean the sides of the brackets. Make sure you rinse off the pikster with water after use, and replace the lid. You can reuse them for several days, until the wire starts to bend or bristles deteriorate.
What happens if I leave plaque around the brackets?
If you do not look after your braces, plaque will form on the teeth where the brackets sit and start to produce acid. The acid leeches the minerals out of your teeth and create white areas on your enamel where the plaque was sitting. Imagine finishing your orthodontic treatment with beautiful straight teeth, only to find white squares on your teeth! These are not pretty and often irreversible, so make sure to spend time cleaning those brackets!
Will my braces hurt?
Initially, you may experience some discomfort on your cheeks and lips from the new brackets rubbing against these areas. Your soft tissues will need a bit of time to get accustomed to these sensations, and you may have some temporary ulcers. To prevent this, you can use some ortho wax to cover the bracket which acts as a barrier and creates a smoother surface. Identify which bracket is causing the ulcer, and take a small amount of wax, rubbing it between your fingers to shape into a ball. Apply the wax around the bracket and press into place – try to cover it fully over the top and bottom of the bracket.
What foods should I avoid?
Eating the wrong foods can cause you to break your brackets or wires which may increase your treatment time and require extra unplanned visits to have them fixed. For the first week after you have your braces put on, your teeth will be a little tender. Try to stick to soft foods such as pasta and soups to minimise discomfort.
Try to avoid:
- Sticky and chewy foods such as caramels, minties etc. Not only can these pull your brackets off but also contain lots of sugar, increasing your risk of tooth decay.
- Hard foods such as nuts and pretzels
- Acidic drinks such as soft drinks or juice
- Biting into large or whole fruits/vegetables such as apples and carrots – cut these into smaller pieces first
Overall, it’s super important to maintain excellent home care habits while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. We promise it’ll all pay off on the exciting day when you have your braces removed!