Caring for your mouth while undergoing orthodontic treatment
Great oral hygiene is key to overall oral health. Whether you are wearing aligners or an appliance or braces are glued to your teeth, orthodontics makes it more challenging and more time consuming to take care of your teeth.
Caring for your teeth and gums
Food that is not cleaned off of your teeth leads to plaque and bacterial build-up on and around your teeth and your appliances. Braces, the wires, and the elastic ties around the brackets all act to trap bacteria and present challenges when cleaning your teeth. Appliances cemented on your teeth will only protect the surfaces they cover, but all areas around the appliance need to be cleaned regularly. Invisalign and other aligners can trap bacteria, making it important to clean your teeth before putting your trays back in after meals. Inadequate home care can lead to increased incidences of white spot lesions (white scars) on the teeth, cavities, and gum and bone disease.
Keeping plaque under control is the best way to preserve healthy gums and teeth. The three ways to preserve oral health is: diet, daily home care, and regular professional cleanings.
Diet and oral health
Diet and sugars are the root cause of tooth decay. Cutting down or eliminating foods and beverages with excess sugar – including sodas and juice, sweets and ice cream – will help reduce the incidences of cavities. It is also important to avoid sticky sweet foods that can not only break brackets and appliances, but also get caught under the wire and next to your teeth and lead to cavities.
Acid in beverages like soda and citrus juices is twice as harmful to your teeth. The acidity erodes the enamel and the sugar then washes over the eroded enamel, setting the stage for increased tooth decay and enamel loss.
Daily Maintenance and Home Care
Appliances (expanders, lip bumpers, lingual arches, etc)
Clean around the appliances with a normal toothbrush. Be sure to brush along the gum line. Waterpiks are very helpful when it comes to getting food out from underneath and around an expander.
Soft-bristle and small-head tooth brushes are great at getting both above and below the wire. It is important to clean around the brackets and wires in all directions. Waterpiks, interproximal or “proxabrushes” and interdental brushes are all great tools for getting food out that has been stuck around the brackets under the wire. Floss threaders and superfloss both help get floss under the wire so you can comfortably floss your teeth.
Caring for your teeth and aligners while in Invisalign
When undergoing orthodontics with clear aligners, it is important to keep your teeth clean. Placing a tray on dirty teeth will only hold the bugs on your teeth – making you more prone to develop cavities. It is important to keep your teeth very clean while using Invisalign. We suggest brushing after each meal whenever possible before putting your aligners back in.
Tricks for keeping your aligners looking clean and fresh:
Avoid eating and drinking colored foods and drinking colored liquids while wearing the trays. Feel free to try any or all of the following to keep your trays clean:
Use dish soap to clean the trays – it will keep them sparkling. Drop the trays in denture cleaner while eating dinner. Clean the aligner out with your toothbrush. Purchase and use “retainer brite” online. Avoid dropping the trays in alcohol-based mouth rinses – it will make the material appear foggy. Do not drop them in hot water as it may cause the trays to distort.
It is important that you see your dentist and hygienist at least 2 times a year. While undergoing orthodontics, it is often best if you see your dentist and/or periodontist 3 or 4 times a year due to the added plaque and tartar buildup that we often see with orthodontic patients. Your dentist is not only looking at how great your teeth are straightening out, he or she is also looking for cavities, gum health and bone health. These visits are very important for the overall health and longevity of your teeth.
*please let us know ahead of time if you would like your wires out prior to your cleaning. We will try to schedule your regular adjustment appointment the same day as your cleaning. We will take the wires out prior to your cleaning, and complete your adjustment when you return after your cleaning.