8 Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay with Braces
Before getting braces, one of the things that your orthodontist will keep reminding you of is to have good oral hygiene. Braces typically cause inevitable disruptions to oral hygiene habits. Although minor, these disruptions can easily result in tooth decay or cavities.
It does not help that there are wires, bands, and brackets in your mouth, making it more difficult to brush your teeth the way you have always done. Additionally, those materials make it easy for food debris, plaque, and bacteria to settle and cause havoc in your mouth.
Wearing braces means that you need to provide special care for your mouth. It’s not the same as wearing Invisalign, which you can easily pop out of your mouth to eat and clean your teeth and pop them back in when you’re done. Braces can make oral hygiene more difficult. Many patients get frustrated because they have to provide extra time to make their mouths clean. Flossing, most especially, is a great challenge while you wear corrective braces.
What can you do? Here at Oasis Orthodontics, we have fitted a significant number of braces to our patients. And alongside helping patients have straighter teeth, we also make it our goal to educate them. That way, they understand that focusing on oral hygiene is even more essential. Having braces will make them more susceptible to tooth decay.
So, without further ado, here are eight tips that will help prevent cavities during your braces treatment:
1. Don’t Miss Any of Your Orthodontic Appointments
You will have to return to see your orthodontist every four to six weeks (your orthodontist will tell you the frequency). These visits are mainly for your adjustments where the replacement of wires may take place. But these visits are also an opportunity for your orthodontist to check your oral health.
Some people develop more cavities and even gum issues whilst wearing braces. It’s not fun, but it happens to a lot of patients, especially those who do not brush and floss regularly. Adhering to your scheduled visits will allow the orthodontist to see if there are developing cavities, which can quickly be remedied.
2. Use the Right Toothbrush
You can get a kit from your orthodontist, which includes a toothbrush, floss, and other items. One of the things that you will notice is that the toothbrush is much softer than what you may be used to. This special toothbrush is designed for people who wear braces.
There are also other products that you can find in the market targeted towards people with braces, including manual and electric toothbrushes. The toothbrush heads have softer bristles. They may have various designs, but they usually come with a more angled shape so that you can brush hard-to-reach areas. Brackets and wires make it more challenging to get to your teeth. However, these brushes generally have finer tips, which allow them to go over the wire and reach your teeth even with the bracket in between.
You’re probably wondering which type of toothbrush is better. Multiple studies did indicate that electric toothbrushes offer more benefits, especially in removing plaque. They also do a better job at cleaning compared to manual brushes. They offer more effective and deeper cleaning, particularly those models that provide thousands of movements every minute. You cannot achieve this number with a manual toothbrush. Depending on the product, there are also different cleaning modes available, including those designed for sensitive teeth and gums.
You don’t need to use electric toothbrushes, though. Many of our clients clean their teeth perfectly and without any problems with manual toothbrushes.
3. Floss Often and Do It Correctly
Just like with brushing, it is crucial to get it right with flossing. It’s also about how regularly you floss. You don’t need to floss after eating. Many orthodontists and dentists will tell you to floss once a day. But if you can do it more often, it’s even better. But if brushing is tricky for you, flossing is probably much harder. To get to the spaces between each tooth, you need to get past the wires, making the process more complicated.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are also floss products that are designed for people who wear braces. Some examples include water flossers, interdental toothbrushes, and orthodontic flossers. A water flosser is that one product that helps you floss using water, as the name already implies. It’s typically rechargeable, like an electric toothbrush. However, it’s bulkier. You can find flossers that are almost the same size as electric toothbrushes, though.
A water flosser is easy to use. Water squirts out of the device, and you just position it between your teeth. It works like regular floss, but experts say it’s still recommended to use a typical floss product before or after water flossing.
An interdental toothbrush is like a combination of floss and toothbrush. You can easily insert it between the wires to reach each tooth. It’s easier to brush and floss this way, but of course, you still have to use your electric or manual toothbrush after.
Finally, an orthodontic flosser is a small tool with a handle and U-shaped face, which you can insert between the metal wires. The beauty of these orthodontic flossing tools is that they provide you with the benefits of flossing without the difficult job of going through each tooth with a piece of regular floss and a threader.
For a more in-depth tutorial on how to floss with braces, please read this blog post.
4. Know the Right Way to Brush Your Teeth
If you have been brushing your teeth regularly and religiously before you got your braces, it should be a little easier to clean your teeth once you have them. We recommend that you brush your teeth after every meal with your toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush for about two minutes, making sure to spend 30 seconds on each quadrant (you have four) of the mouth.
Make sure that you brush in various directions so that you can dislodge food. It helps if you floss first before you brush your teeth so that you remove the food debris first.
5. Rinse Your Mouth With a Fluoride Mouthwash
After brushing, it is recommended that you rinse with a mouthwash. Some experts are on the fence with this practice, though, since it means eliminating the fluoride that you got from brushing with your fluoride toothpaste. And that’s why it is essential to stick to a fluoride mouthwash. You may also want to space out the process. Instead of rinsing right away, wait about 30 minutes before using the mouthwash.
You also do not need to use your mouthwash every time you brush. You usually only have to do it once daily, just like with flossing.
6. Avoid the No-Nos
Apart from brushing and flossing, you should also be aware that there are a few things that you should avoid. Before and after you get braces, your orthodontist at Oasis Orthodontics will remind you to avoid certain foods, especially those that are sugar, sticky, and acidic. Soft drinks (both diet and regular), coffee, and tea should also be avoided, especially if you just got your braces. Some examples of food that you need to avoid are caramel, jelly, gum, candies, apples, carrots, and nuts. If you chew ice as a habit, now is a great time to stop.
While fruits are healthy, they contain sugar. You should try to avoid them or at least reduce your consumption. It’s also a good practice to cut up what you eat into bite-size pieces. Don’t bite food without cutting them; otherwise, it could damage your braces.
This does not mean that you have to stop eating your favourite foods. You still have plenty of options, such as yoghurt, grapes, bananas, oatmeal, and other softer foods, especially after getting braces. Over time, you will get used to the braces and find yourself eating like normal. Here is a list of foods that you can eat to help your teeth. Nevertheless, it would be best if you still avoid or at least reduce your consumption of chewy and soft food items.
7. Drink water
Did you know that having a dry mouth can have a few consequences? You may already know that it is one of the leading causes of bad breath. But something as simple as drinking enough water can help reduce cavities.
Drinking water has plenty of benefits, including flushing away toxins in the body. Water also helps dislodge food particles that may have been stuck in your teeth and braces. Another huge plus is that water in Australia has fluoride, the same mineral found in toothpaste and mouthwashes. When you drink water with fluoride, you’re helping your teeth become stronger and healthier. It also rids bacteria and plaque, reducing their build-up in the mouth, which means you have less chance of developing cavities.
Plaque is sticky and will accumulate on your teeth. If left untreated, it will become tartar, which cannot be removed unless you use powerful cleaners used by dentists and orthodontists. Crowns and bridges may be required to fix the decayed tooth, which means additional treatment for you. If the tooth can no longer be fixed, the only option is to remove it. That way, it will not affect the other teeth near it.
You don’t want to reach that situation where you eventually lose teeth. Together with flossing and brushing, you can combat plaque build-up and prevent the occurrence of tartar in the mouth by simply drinking water.
8. Swish Water Around the Mouth if You Can’t Brush and Floss
Let’s be honest. There are times when you cannot brush and floss. Perhaps you’re in the office, at the mall, or your friend’s house. You forgot to bring your orthodontic kit. An option would be to wait until you get home so you can brush your teeth. But what if you still have to wait several hours before you can go home? A smart solution is to simply rinse your mouth immediately after eating.
Water with fluoride is a fantastic alternative to mouthwashes when they are not available. Just swish water around your mouth as you would with your mouthwash to help remove the food particles that may be stuck between your teeth. You should also rinse your mouth once you’re done drinking anything acidic like coffee. That way, the liquid will not stick on the surface of your teeth.
Even if you already rinsed your mouth with fluoride-rich water, you should still brush and floss the moment you can. Also, it’s important to never go to bed without brushing and flossing.
Are You Prone to Cavities?
In Australia, about 90% of the population has some form of dental decay. Some people believe that wearing braces can help prevent tooth decay. Not to burst your bubble, but it’s untrue. A study from the University of Adelaide Dental School and the Australian Research Centre for Population Health proves this statement. Braces can increase your risk of getting cavities.
But the wonderful news is that you won’t get cavities with proper oral hygiene. Plus, visiting your orthodontist regularly can help detect any decay, which can help prevent it from getting worse. Once your braces are off, you will have straighter teeth that will be so much easier to clean. And it is why many people with straight teeth do not get tooth decay as much as those with crooked teeth.
Some people, however, are prone to cavities. Your orthodontist will help you determine if you are and will also provide solutions for you. It’s possible to have cavities even if you are diligent with your oral hygiene. Braces and cavities are not a good combination, but you can have your cavities filled even with your braces in places. That means you don’t need to wait until your braces are off to get them treated.
Also, if you are a candidate for Invisalign, it may be a better option for you. Unless you have incredibly crooked or misaligned teeth, you can use removable clear aligners like Invisalign to straighten your teeth.
Here at Oasis Orthodontics, we offer both braces and Invisalign to help you become more confident with your smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for an assessment with our friendly orthodontic professionals.