Caring For Your Braces
How often should I clean my braces?
It is vital that you clean your braces every time you brush your teeth.
Braces can act as a "plaque trap", increasing the amount of plaque on your teeth, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of decay and gum disease. You must clean all surfaces twice a day.
How do I clean all areas of my mouth while wearing braces?
At first, effectively removing plaque from your teeth and along the gum line may seem difficult with braces. But keep at it - with practice it becomes easier! Following these tips will also help:
- First, take off any removable parts like elastic bands and headgear.
- Place your brush at an angle of about 45 degrees or flatten against the tooth and gum and apply gentle pressure as you brush with a gentle round and round motion.
- Use the same brushing motion on the inner and outer surface of all teeth.
- Don't forget to brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth - and make sure you reach the back teeth too.
- Finish by cleaning around your braces, brushing first from the top and then from the bottom. Brush gently and take care not to bend or break any of the brackets or wires.
- Use your interdental (triangle) brush to remove plaque from under the wire and from bracket to bracket.
- Electric brushes need to be held still so the bristles can contact and clean the surface (5 seconds in each area per tooth)
- Manual brushes need to be moved (10 circular motions on the tooth and gum margin)
Which products are best for braces?
Manual toothbrushes have bristles trimmed in a "V" shape for cleaning above and below the brackets and wire. Ideally, with the correct technique, any toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles will ensure teeth and gums remain clean and healthy.
Power toothbrushes remove more plaque than ordinary manual toothbrushes. Some of the newer ones have brush-heads specifically made for use with braces (they are smaller). However, a small head with no attachments is suitable to use.
Remember, hold the brush in line with the area to be cleaned and hold the brush still to allow the bristles to clean. Interdental brushes have very small heads with fine bristles - perfect for cleaning under the wires and between the teeth. Check with your orthodontist how you should clean around your braces with this type of brush. This brush is useful for removing food from between braces after lunch, morning tea, out for dinner etc. The travel size allows for easier dexterity and can be taken in lunch boxes, handbags etc.
An orthodontist may recommend using a combination of home care products in your daily routine.
How do I floss with fixed braces?
- Flossing is important, however, can be difficult with braces on.
- Where there is a lot of crowding, you may need to wait until teeth move to give room to floss.
- Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth and under your gum line - areas beyond the reach of your toothbrush. In fact, if you don't floss, you're leaving up to 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched and uncleaned.
- Choose a threading floss with a stiffened end that threads it through the gap between each tooth - above the wire for your upper teeth and below the wire for your lower teeth.
- Curve the floss around each tooth in a "C" shape and gently move it up and down the side of each tooth, including under the gum line.
- Unroll a new section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.