At Braces N Faces, we want to make living with braces as easy as possible. Our goal is to give you remarkable results with as little disruption to you as possible. There is no reason for your lifestyle to change too much during treatment, however there are some small changes that we suggest to optimise your treatment results in good time.
Here are some top tips for living with braces from our friendly team here at Braces N Faces Orthodontics:
Brushing your teeth
Brushing your teeth will take a little longer if you are wearing braces, but it's extremely important that you keep your brushing routine up. Food can get caught in the brackets and archwires of your braces, whether you're wearing metal or ceramic, so we'll show you the best way to clean your teeth so as not to let food and plaque build up.
For starters, choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. In the morning we suggest a quick but thorough brush with your regular toothbrush, starting at the back and working your way around your mouth, from one side to the other. That way no teeth will be missed.
During the day, it is ideal if you can brush your teeth after every meal and snack. If that's not possible, make sure to rinse thoroughly with water to get rid of any food that may be caught in your braces.
Night-time brushing routine
At night, or whenever you have more time, spend at least 5 minutes giving your teeth a really good brush. Start with the spiral brush. This is great for getting larger pieces of food out, but it is also essential for daily use to remove all the plaque from your teeth and gums. Bend the wire part of the brush so that it is at right angles to the handle. Direct the brush under the archwire of your braces. Going from the gums towards the biting edge of your teeth, use long strokes and brush 15 times, from above one bracket to above the other bracket.
Spiral left – Five strokes from the left
Spiral middle – Five strokes straight up and down
Spiral right – Five strokes from the right
Make sure the bristles of the brush are held firmly against your gum and the tooth above/below each bracket. If you pull against the archwire with the brush, you will be holding the brush away from your gums and this will be ineffective. Once you have used the spiral between each of the brackets, use your regular toothbrush in the same way discussed above. After brushing, have a good look and make sure everything looks clean and shiny. If anything looks dull or cloudy, there is still plaque there and you need to brush again.
Extra protection for your teeth
While your braces are on, we recommend that you use a fluoride mouth rinse weekly. Fluoride is a mineral that can strengthen your teeth and make them more resistant to decay. Brush your teeth as normal, then after rinsing out all the toothpaste, take 5-10 ml of Fluorocare in your mouth and swish vigorously for 30 seconds. Spit this out and leave the residue sitting on your teeth for at least 30 minutes. It is best if this is done just before going to bed, then the fluoride will be working to strengthen your teeth all night. A helpful hint is to do this on the same night each week so that you always remember. Sunday nights are the new fluoride night!
If you play contact sports we recommend the use of a re-mouldable mouthguard available form a chemist or sports store. Mouthguards help to protect your cheeks and lips from the braces if you get a hit to the face. Your braces will hold your teeth in position, but as you can imagine, all that metal being embedded into your cheeks would not be fun.
Caring for appliances other than braces
Here at Braces N Faces Orthodontics, we use different types of appliances, not just braces. These appliances can be categorised as either fixed or removable.
Fixed appliances are cemented into position in your mouth. They are usually made up of metal bands around at least two teeth, and a wire joining these bands.
Removable appliances hold teeth in their new positions, or are used to achieve minor tooth movement. It is important they are worn as instructed by your orthodontist, and that you contact us if at any stage you are having problems with them.
Care of fixed appliances
We suggest that you avoid eating sticky foods, as they can cause your appliance to become loose. Eating sweets between meals should also be avoided, as there is a greater chance of decay developing while the appliance is in your mouth. Brush carefully around all of the wires and where the band meets your gum. If you are having difficulties getting into the small areas, please speak to our Dental Therapist, who will be able to advise you on brushing those hard to reach areas. Floss can be used under the wire. It needs to be threaded through under the wire and then used as normal.
Care of removable appliances
If you have been fitted with a removable appliance, your speech may be affected for the first few days. Try not to remove it though because this will mean it will take longer to get used to. The only exception to this is for singing or playing a wind instrument.
Each time the appliance is taken out of your mouth, it should be rinsed with water to remove the saliva. This will keep the retainer from becoming slimy and hard to clean. Twice a day take the appliance out of your mouth and scrub it with toothpaste and a toothbrush. A hard toothbrush can be used on the appliance, but always use a soft one in the mouth.
Do not use hot water as it can distort the appliance.
Keeping your aligners safe
Your aligners or appliance should be in its carry case at all times when it is not in your mouth. It should never be in a pocket or bag as it can be easily lost or damaged. Wrapping your aligners or retainer up in a tissue will usually result in the whole thing being thrown out, so leave it in the mouth to eat if the box is not available.
Oral hygiene FAQs
WHY DO I HAVE TO BRUSH MY TEETH?
Everybody has to clean their teeth daily to remove the plaque that collects on their teeth. It is plaque that causes dental diseases such as decay and gum disease.
WHAT IS PLAQUE?
Plaque is a soft, colourless, sticky film of bacteria, which is difficult to see until the coating is quite thick. It forms in everybody’s mouth all the time, collecting on the surfaces of the teeth next to the gums and between the teeth.
If plaque is not removed regularly, it can convert the foods we eat to acid. These acids eat away at the enamel of your teeth, eventually making holes in them. This is called decay. Plaque is also the main cause of gum disease. The presence of plaque around the gums gradually causes the gum to loosen their hold on the teeth. Waste products from plaque then attack, and eventually destroy the bone supporting the teeth. The teeth become loose and may ultimately be lost. Remember – gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss in adults.
SO IF I BRUSH MY TEETH THOROUGHLY, I WON’T GET DECAY?
Careful toothbrushing combined with good eating habits will give you the best chance to avoid decay. Remember: plaque + sugar = acids = tooth decay! This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat any sugar for the rest of your life, but it is important to limit the number of times you eat sugar during the day. Sugary foods should be kept for mealtimes because the other food you eat can reduce the amount of acid produced. For example, a small piece of cheese at the end of the meal can help to neutralise acid around the teeth. Every time sugar comes into contact with plaque it causes at least a 30-minute acid attack on the teeth. So don’t eat sugar in between meals.
WHAT IF I WANT A SNACK IN BETWEEN MEALS?
If you have to eat something in between meals, make sure you choose ‘safe’ snacks e.g. wholemeal bread, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, diet drinks, milk. Always check the labels on foods to see if they contain sugar. The higher on the list of ingredients sugar appears, the higher the proportion there is of it.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I’VE GOT GUM DISEASE?
If you have gum disease, your gums will bleed quite easily when brushing. They can also look red, rather than a healthy pink, and will become swollen.
HOW DO I AVOID GUM DISEASE?
Regular thorough tooth cleaning is your best prevention against gum disease! You should clean your teeth and gums at least twice each day, morning and evening. Make sure that in the evening you get your mouth completely plaque-free. The time this takes will vary from person to person, but you should spend at least 2-3 minutes brushing.
Book your free consultation with Braces N Faces Orthodontics today