Many adolescents and teens (and even some adults!) go through some type of orthodontic treatment, and oftentimes, traditional braces are the best way to straighten teeth. In fact, braces are almost a type of rite of passage for many teenagers as they transition from a child to a young adult. But as with many things, getting braces also means experiencing some changes to your appearance, what you can eat, and even how you brush your teeth. So today, your pediatric dentist in Long Island is here to help teach you and your child the best way to care for teeth while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Brushing with Braces: 101
The key to keeping your teeth healthy for the duration of your orthodontic treatment is to make sure you continue to brush twice a day, and really, much your regular brushing habits should stay the same with the exception of a few minor changes.
- Remove the removables – If you’re wearing anything removable such as rubber bands, elastics, or appliances, take those out before you start brushing.
- Pick the right toothbrush – Using a soft-bristled toothbrush is usually always the best choice as it effectively cleans teeth while also protecting enamel, brackets, and wires.
- Start brushing – Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle gently brush your teeth in small circular motions. Make sure to brush all sides of your teeth including the front, back, chewing surfaces, as well as your tongue. All of this should take you a total of 2 minutes.
- Finish with an interdental brush – An interdental brush can be picked up at any local grocery store, pharmacy, or you can ask your pediatric dentist in Long Island for one at your next appointment. These tiny brushes should be used to brush up under each wire to clean the areas of your teeth that may have been missed with traditional brushing, as well as to clean the back of the wires and sides of the brackets.
Don’t Forget the Floss!
Brushing your teeth is only half of a good oral hygiene routine for anyone, but especially for those with braces. It’s also incredibly important to floss in between each and every tooth every day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles brushing alone can’t reach. In fact, if you only brush your teeth and forego the floss, you’re leaving two surfaces of your teeth completely uncleaned! This can increase the risk of tooth decay and even gum disease. While flossing can be tricky to get the hang of with braces, it’s important to practice and make it a part of your daily routine. To floss your teeth while wearing braces:
- Choose the right floss – Flossing with waxed floss or dental tape is the best way to keep the floss from fraying as you wiggle it in between your teeth and underneath wires. Unraveling about 18 inches of your floss of choice and you’re on your way.
- Mind the wires – The trickiest part of flossing with braces is that you can’t get all the way up to the gums because there are wires in the way. This means you’ll have to use a floss threader to gently thread the floss up under the wires to thoroughly floss each tooth.
- Don’t snap it – Instead of pulling and snapping the floss out from each section, slowly glide and wiggle it out.
If you have questions about how to brush your teeth with braces, talk with your orthodontist or pediatric dentist in Long Island.