Good oral hygiene is important to ensure your orthodontic treatment runs smoothly. Problems that could potentially damage your teeth long-term are usually caused from not brushing your teeth properly. However, with our top tips you’ll be flashing your healthy pearly whites in no time.
Cleaning your teeth
If you have a removable brace you can take it out to clean your teeth. A fixed brace can easily trap food and contribute to plaque formation, which increases the risk of possible damage to your teeth and the health of the gums.
Spend five minutes brushing your teeth with a good brushing technique. Do this three times a day after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use a timer or play one or two of your favourite songs while cleaning your teeth to ensure you spend enough time on them.
What to use for cleaning your teeth
The following items make up a great teeth brushing kit:
Manual or electric toothbrush - ideally soft bristle
Fluoride toothpaste - most toothpaste contains fluoride
Fluoride mouthwash - strengthens your teeth & prevents tooth decay
Tepe brushes - for cleaning behind the wire and down the sides of the brackets
Three steps to a great
Brush the front surface Starting at your last tooth, work your way from one side of your mouth to the other, cleaning the top part of the brace. Direct your brush at an angle (45⁰). Brush in a small circular motion and move all the way across to the last tooth on the other side. Ensure you are cleaning the tooth surface. After cleaning above the top of the brackets, next clean underneath the brackets using the same technique.If you started with your top teeth now clean the lower teeth in the same way. Brush your gums after cleaning your teeth.
Brush the biting surface Clean the biting surface of your teeth in small, circular motions.
Brush the back surface Clean the back surface of your teeth in small, circular motions.
Top tips for teeth brushing
Take your time: There is no quick way of effectively cleaning around your fixed brace.
Use tepes: After tooth brushing and before bed, use the tepe brush behind the wire, gently cleaning each side of the bracket.
Use an electric toothbrush: Use the same technique as outlined above, but rather than moving the brush in small circles hold the brush still in position for a few seconds before moving onto the next tooth.The oscillating head of the electric toothbrush will do the work for you.
Use fluoride mouthwash: After cleaning your teeth and before going to bed use fluoride mouthwash. Follow the instructions for use and DO NOT rinse after. Mouthwash is not a substitute for cleaning teeth!
Don’t put your teeth
Not cleaning your teeth properly, particularly while wearing braces, can cause plaque to build up on the surface of your teeth. This can lead to a number of problems, including:
This is a white area on a tooth where the enamel has been scarred. Patients most often see decalcification after fixed braces come off, in areas around where the brackets were and along the gum line.Some people think that braces cause decalcification scars, this is NOT the case. Decalcification occurs due to poor cleaning, allowing the acid in the plaque to sit on the enamel long enough that it starts leeching out calcium from the enamel - that is why it is called ‘decalcification’. The calcium is what makes the enamel strong, and without it, the enamel becomes soft. Decalcification is the first stage of a cavity, when the acid has not yet reached the inner layers of the tooth, but has weakened the outer layer.
Plaque bacteria turn sugar in the food we eat into acid. Poor tooth brushing and/or excessive and frequent intake of sugar will cause decay (cavities). These cavities, if left untreated, can become very painful and leave holes in the teeth. The decayed area of the tooth will generally need to be removed and filled by the dentist.
Plaque bacteria can cause gingivitis, where the gums become red, inflamed and may bleed. This happens because the acid produced by the plaque irritates the gums causing an inflammatory response. Gums will return to normal with good tooth brushing, ensuring the gums are also brushed as well as the teeth.
How will I know if I am cleaning my teeth well enough?
At each orthodontic appointment we will assess your oral hygiene. If it is poor we will inform you of this and show you the problem in the mirror. We will go through good tooth brushing techniques with you to help you with this matter.
If tooth brushing is very poor, we may get you to clean your teeth whilst in the dental chair and will inform your dentist that you are struggling with brushing your teeth and we have advised you on good tooth brushing.
If oral hygiene is persistently poor and your teeth are at risk of damage we will stop treatment and remove your brace even if treatment is not complete. Dental health is very important to us and we hope it is to you too.