Oral Hygiene with Braces
Once you have your orthodontic appliances or braces in place, keeping your teeth, gums and appliances clean is very important.
Braces, wires, bands and retainers can all trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Careful brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal and snack is the best way to prevent plaque build up, tooth decay and gum disease.
Follow Dr. Panucci’s recommendations to learn how to keep up good oral hygiene while wearing braces and maintain a healthy smile for life.
- Start with the outside of the teeth, with the brush at a straight angle. Use circular, vibrating angles.
- Clean the area between the gums and braces by angling the brush down (up for the lower jaw). Keep moving it in a small circular motion.
- Clean the rest of the outside of the teeth by angling the brush up (down for the lower jaw)
- Carefully brush your teeth’s chewing surface of both the upper and lower jaw.
- Finish by brushing the inside of your teeth.
- Floss at least once per day. The floss needs to be pulled underneath the arch wire, a floss threader facilitates this. Start by pulling floss through the threader.
- Push the end of the floss threader under the arch wire and pull the floss through.
- Pull the floss up between the teeth and gently move it up and down the side of both teeth. Remember to move it up all the way under the gums.
- Pull the floss out and use a different section of it for the next tooth
When you are finished brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth carefully with water or a mouth rinse such as Peroxyl.
Peroxyl is an antiseptic dental rinse (active ingredient: hydrogen peroxide 1.5%) used in orthodontics to control minor gum inflamation and irritations from orthodontic appliances. It is also used to cleanse canker sores and minor wounds or other irritations of the mouth and gums such as moth burns, cheek bites and toothbrush abrasions. Its oxygenating action removes debris allowing natural healing to occur.
An interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) is another aid you might find useful to keep your teeth, braces and gums clean and healthy. It can be used to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces. Use this device slowly and carefully, so you do not damage your braces.
Interdental toothbrushes come in a verity of designs and colors so you can mix and match them with your regular toothbrush.
Orthodontic appliances tend to accumulate food particles and plaque just like teeth do. Every time you brush your teeth, brush your removable appliances. This is best done by holding the retainer under a stream of cold water and brushing it with a clean toothbrush (do not use toothpaste). For freshening your retainer, it may be dipped into a mild mouthwash solution for a few seconds. Click here for more information about retainer care.
Foods to Avoid
For most situations, common sense will prevail and tell you what foods to avoid. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between wires and brackets. Also try to minimize your sugary foods as they cause tooth decay and related problems.
Here are some examples of common foods to avoid while wearing orthodontic braces:
- Hard Food: Ice, Nuts, Pizza Crust, Carrots and Apples
- Sticky Food: Gum, Caramel, Gummy Candy, Licorice
- Sugary Food: Ice Cream, Cookies, Soda, Candy