So let’s say you’ve got braces now… and you’re not sure exactly what to do with them! Hunter Family Orthodontics won’t leave you hanging. We want to make sure you know the answer to this super common question: How do I clean and care for my braces?
Understanding the Components
In order to maintain your braces, you need to know the different parts of them and what they do.
- Brackets, integral to orthodontic appliances, are securely bonded to your teeth and are available in either metal or clear materials, depending on your preference.
- Connecting the entire structure are wires, which apply the required pressure to gradually align the teeth.
- To secure the wires to the brackets, bands are employed, offering not only functionality but also a touch of personalization with a variety of vibrant colors to choose from.
Cleaning Your Braces
Many patients with braces have a pack they take everywhere with them, containing cleaning equipment. Here are some of the main items you’ll find there:
- Soft-Bristle Toothbrush
- Orthodontic Wax
- Floss Threader
- Interdental Brush
- Fluoride Mouthwash
Now that you know the tools, let’s talk about using them! We’ll give you some steps on how to clean your braces properly. You may not be able to do all of these steps every single time, but it’s a great thing to aim for! Your main objective is to ensure everything is clean in order to prevent bacteria buildup and eventually decay.
- Rinse First: A simple rinse with water removes loose debris.
- Brush Thoroughly: Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush at a 45-degree angle to the brackets, moving from the top down, then from the bottom up. Pay close attention to the area between the brackets and the gums.
- Clean Between Brackets: Using your same brush, take time to clean between brackets and wires. Move the brush in and out between each bracket to remove food particles and plaque.
- Floss with Threader/Orthodontic Floss: Thread floss gently through the wires and floss between each tooth.
- Water Flosser: Consider using a water flosser to help flush debris from hard-to-reach areas. Water flossers are a huge asset to people with braces since they cover a lot of ground quickly and thoroughly.
- Fluoride Mouthwash: Rinse your mouth with fluoride mouthwash. Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid irritation. Swish for about 30 seconds before spitting it out—and avoid ingesting any.
- Check for Debris: Use a small mirror to check for remaining debris or areas that require extra attention.
- Orthodontic Wax: If any brackets or wires are causing your gums irritation, use wax to help provide a barrier against sharp edges.
Caring For Your Braces
Now that you know a good procedure for cleaning, we can go over the many additional ways you can take care of your braces. By adopting the habits—or avoiding them—you’ll be able to properly maintain them.
- Oral Hygiene: Not to sound like a broken record—but the steps we covered above really are the main factor in taking care of your braces. Don’t neglect your oral health.
- Regular Check-Ups: Any orthodontic treatment requires follow-up appointments. We take this time to assess progress and make any necessary repairs to your appliance. Also attend your regular dental cleanings as scheduled by your general dentist.
- Avoid Certain Foods: This can be a tough one—but remember that braces are an investment, and you don’t want them to get damaged! Hard, sticky, or chewy foods are all common culprits—think of things like hard candies, popcorn, and toffee or gum. They can not only cause direct damage to the components but can also get stuck between them.
- Wear a Mouthguard: If you play sports, you need to take extra protection measures. Continue using a mouthguard to protect your teeth from impact. We are able to provide a custom-fit one to give you optimal protection.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water, especially after sugary or acidic foods or drinks. This flushes away food particles and reduces the risk of cavities.
- Emergency Kit: If you have to travel light, condense your cleaning kit to the essentials: Floss, a small toothbrush, a small mirror, and orthodontic wax.
- Be Mindful of Habits: Avoid habits that have adverse effects on your teeth, like nail-biting, chewing on pens, or ripping open packages with your teeth.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: Focus on consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals to support your overall oral health.
- Follow the Rules: We will provide you with guidelines based on your treatment plan. These are more rules than suggestions! In addition to the types of things we’ve covered here, they might include wearing rubber bands, headgear, or other additionally prescribed appliances for specialized cases.
A Member of the Family
Dr. Hunter and our team are committed to helping our patients live out the best possible lifestyle while they have their braces. We are always here to answer your questions and provide guidance. Our Woodlands office is only a call away at 281-306-5947. We can’t wait to see you!