How to maintain good oral health while wearing braces and clear aligners
Braces and clear aligners are a super-effective way to straighten your teeth and give you the confidence to smile. While it’s an exciting time, it’s also a big commitment and requires time and effort to ensure you look after your teeth and braces to achieve the best results.
Taking care of your teeth and gums while you’re wearing braces or clear aligners does take a little more effort, but it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene to avoid any future problems. Let’s explore some valuable tips to help you maintain the health of your teeth and gums while wearing braces.
Brushing your teeth
When you have braces, it’s important to brush your teeth carefully and take time to do it correctly as it’s easy for bacteria to get trapped in the braces. If plaque accumulates around your braces it can leave permanent stains or marks on your teeth called decalcification – which remains for life.
It’s essential to brush your teeth twice a day, working carefully around the brackets and near the gum line.
Clean your braces:
Take off any removable elastics or parts. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to clean around the wires and pins of your braces. Brush from the top of each wire down to the bottom. Take your time to ensure that all plaque and debris is removed and you clean from your upper to lower teeth.
Clean your teeth:
Clean each tooth individually by placing your brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line then apply gentle pressure as you move in a circular motion. Do this for 10 seconds and apply the same brushing action on all outer and inner tooth surfaces, tilting your brush as needed.
As aligners are removable, you can take them out to eat, drink and brush your teeth as normal. You should continue to brush your teeth twice a day. At The Practice, we recommend that you rinse and gently brush your aligners twice a day, but avoid using toothpaste as it can leave a residue. You can clean them with antibacterial soap, and denture tablets and rinse them with warm water. You can soak your aligners in the cleaning solution provided by your dentist once a week.
Flossing your teeth
When you have braces, flossing your teeth is a little more challenging, but it is possible and very important as it will remove any food around your braces. Here are some tips for flossing when you are wearing braces:
- Use waxed floss as it slides easier and is stronger.
- Superfloss is a good option. Products like flossettes are not recommended.
- Ensure you have enough floss – about a ruler length (30cm) is best.
- Thread the floss carefully under the archwire of your braces before passing it between the two teeth.
- Use interdental brushes between your braces to clear out any trapped food.
- Always floss down just under the gum line.
Remove your aligners and floss your teeth as normal.
Maintain a good diet
When wearing braces or clear aligners it’s even more important to be mindful of your diet. The dentists at The Practice recommend avoiding sweet, sugary, sticky and hard foods as they can increase the chance of tooth decay and decalcification. They can also damage your braces.
Some common foods to avoid include:
- Hard or chewy lollies, such as Minties, Fantales, Redskins, chewy caramels, toffees, lollipops, popcorn, and nuts. Includes chewing gum!
- Ice – rather than crunching ice, suck it instead.
- Meat on bones, fruit on stones, and corn on the cob. Cut first and then eat it in bite-sized pieces.
- Hard foods – Rather than biting into hard foods, such as apples and carrots, cut them up and chew them with your back teeth.
While brushing your teeth after eating is a great option, it’s not always easy, so drinking water after you eat is a great way to wash away any food particles remaining.
Because aligners are taken out while eating, there aren’t any specific foods to avoid when wearing clear aligners, however, as always, highly acidic or sugary foods should be limited. After eating and before placing your aligners back in your mouth, we recommend you brush your teeth when possible. Drinking water after eating can help to wash away any food particles remaining.
Regular dental check-ups
When you’re wearing braces or clear aligners it’s essential to regularly attend your dental appointments. With braces, regular adjustment appointments are required to tighten the braces, replace wires, or make other adjustments.
With clear aligners, you will also need to attend regular appointments for your dentist to check the aligners or provide you with new ones as your treatment progresses.
Straightening your teeth – The Practice West End
The dentists at our South Brisbane dentist have years of experience with braces and clear aligners. We can help straighten your teeth and ensure you take care of your smile by maintaining good oral hygiene, eating a healthy diet and attending regular dentist appointments. For more information on braces and clear aligners, call 07 3733 3223 or book an appointment online.