Having braces is a rite of passage for most teenagers. You see your friends get them, you see how they turn a once-crooked smile into a dazzling straight one, and you rejoice the day your grill gets a set of their own. Finally,you are among the young masses who are giving their smile a bright future.
However, as many of us know, being a teenager often comes with an attitude of “meh, whatever.” This includes the diligence of keeping up good oral hygiene habits. It is not uncommon to have a conversation with someone, who is navigating their way through the years of Jr. High, and notice that their brackets and wires are lightly coated in Doritos and Redvines. Oral hygiene tends to fall short on their list of to-do’s, but braces need a certain kind of love when it comes to brushing and flossing in order to make sure that bacteria doesn’t colonize and cause issues, such as tartar, gingivitis, and gum disease.
Although flossing tends to be a challenging part of oral hygiene for anyone, when dealing with braces, it bumps up the challenge to a new level. But, there are ways to protect your teeth from harmful bacteria, you just have to master the flossing art.
The question is: how to teach an adolescent “brace-face” the importance of oral hygiene? The answer is: start with the right tools.
- Soft-bristled toothbrush - The soft and thin bristles of this type of toothbrush are experts when it comes to navigating the hills and valleys of the bracket and wire world. This type of brush is also perfect for cleaning along the gum line
- Fluoride toothpaste - Your teeth are already working overtime to move into a perfectly straight position, so giving them extra backup; fluoride can help slow the breakdown of enamel and speed up the remineralization process (which plays an important part in oral health)
- Floss - Floss floss floss! This is something that is overlooked by many. You might think it’s trivial, but flossing (especially if you have braces) is vital to maintaining good oral health. Make sure that flossing at least once a day is a permanent part of your dental routine
- Oral irrigator (water flosser) - Some find flossing difficult and prefer the method of oral irrigation. Bacteria that might be lurking between your teeth and around your braces are no match for the powers of an oral irrigator
Having wiring across each tooth can definitely be a challenge when it comes to flossing, but knowing how important it is to keep them clean is key. It takes a certain diligence and skill to make sure that your oral hygiene doesn’t fall short during those glorious years when you adjust your teeth into the perfect smile.
Brushing (at least) twice a day is equally important. Let’s take a look at brushing techniques for someone who has braces:
- Remove any elastics fitted to the braces
- Gently brush around the brackets and wires with a soft bristled toothbrush, often a child size toothbrush is best at a 45-degree angle where the gums meet the teeth, using a back and forth motion
- Gently brush the braces. Use enough pressure to clean the surface of the brackets, but keep your cleaning gentle
- After a thorough cleaning, examine each tooth and bracket to make sure there are no food particles stuck between the braces
- Reinsert the removed elastics
Having braces is an incredible part of growing up. It signifies a time of change and maturity and learning to be responsible for your oral hygiene is a key part of “growing up.” Having brackets and wires working hard to align your teeth means that you must give them extra attention during your daily oral-hygiene routine. If you have any questions regarding how to keep your braces clean, contact our office and our friendly and highly knowledgeable staff is here to help.