When you’ve got braces, it’s extremely important to keep them clean. Wires and brackets can trap food particles and sugars, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Since October is National Dental Hygiene Month, it’s the perfect time to look at how to keep your braces clean.
Brush Well and Often
The best thing you can do to keep your braces clean is to brush well and often. All it takes is just a couple of minutes after every meal. Be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth and braces. We’ve noticed that this is more challenging for our younger patients than for our adult patients, so if you’re a parent of a child with braces, make sure your child is brushing regularly and doing a good job while brushing.
Get Help with Flossing
Flossing with braces is challenging and can be time-consuming, too. But it’s crucial to floss when you have braces to remove the food and sugars from between teeth. Use floss threaders to get regular floss above the wire to thoroughly floss in between teeth, or try Superfloss, which is floss with a built-in threader. Small proxy brushes are effective at cleaning between teeth and are often easier to use than floss.
Go High Tech
Patients often ask us if they should invest in an electric toothbrush, water flosser, Waterpik, or similar tools. When we see problems with oral hygiene, it’s not because of the type of brush or floss someone uses, but because of lack of effort. Still, it’s true that electric toothbrushes do a better job cleaning around the brackets than manual toothbrushes, and water flossers are also great at removing particles from between the teeth. Plus, it can be easier to stick to the habit of brushing and flossing often when you have tools that make life easier. For those reasons, it can be worth it.
What About Aligners?
The advice above is geared towards patients with metal bracket and wire braces, but patients with clear aligners need to be vigilant about oral health, too. Since aligners are taken out for eating and cleaning, they are a lot easier to maintain than braces. Just be sure to brush your teeth every time before putting your aligner back in. Otherwise, you risk trapping food particles and sugars up against your teeth.
Keeping your braces or aligners clean only takes a few minutes a few times a day. The most important thing you can do is be consistent and commit to brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day. If you do this, then when your braces finally come off, you’ll have that healthy smile you’ve been waiting for.