Most people have braces during adolescence or childhood, but they are increasingly common for adults as well. Although they can be a nuisance for a while, the benefits- straighter teeth, correction of over or under bite, and malocclusion of the teeth, last a lifetime. Taking good care of your braces helps decrease the risk of tooth decay and contributes to their effectiveness.
Brushing with Braces
Begin your oral care routine by thoroughly brushing with a soft-bristled brush. Begin from the top, and work downward on each tooth. It may be necessary for you to use a “proxabrush,” sometimes referred to as a “Christmas tree” brush, to get into the spaces between the brackets. Rotating brushes are sometimes recommended. Whatever brush you use, it’s important to remove any food particles around the braces and teeth.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Next, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the arch wire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Gently work the floss on each side of the teeth. Be careful not to put too much force against the wire- you don’t want to bend it. Repeat this procedure with each gap.
Finally, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to help remove any food particles that might be lurking. If you’re wearing a retainer, remove it and clean it thoroughly by soaking it in a denture cleanser recommended by your dentist.
Avoid Problem Foods
Part of the value of wearing braces is that they help realign the teeth, providing a better bite and increasing your ability to properly chew your food. In the long run, they help you eat better by providing you the ability to more easily chew hard foods like vegetables.
While you’re wearing braces, however, it’s best to avoid certain foods. Hard or tough foods like apples or bagels are not good for your braces. Also on the “to avoid” list are taffy, caramels, and bubble gum. Don’t chew ice while wearing braces. In fact, you should avoid chewing on ice all together, as it can crack the enamel of your teeth. Hard pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and carrots should be avoided, as well as hard candy. Limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods while wearing braces, to help control the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.
Although wearing braces can be inconvenient at times, the long term benefits make them well worth some extra time and care.