Oral hygiene becomes even more important during orthodontic treatment because there are more places for plaque and food to hide around your braces, under your aligners and close to your gums.
Plaque is a layer of bacteria in a protein matrix on the teeth which causes tooth decay and cavities. You cannot see plaque as it is a thin transparent layer. Bacteria present in plaque convert sugar in the mouth into acid, which then attacks the tooth enamel. If you develop white marks on your teeth these are an early sign of tooth decay. The white marks are permanent.
To maintain good oral hygiene when wearing braces, we strongly advise you to…
- Get a small toothbrush with soft bristles and a flat brushing surface. This will allow you to brush all around the braces. You will be shown how to do this when you get your braces on.
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Use dental floss or dental tape – the floss or tape will need to be threaded under the arch wire and between the teeth. You may need a 'floss threader' to feed the floss through, or use a special type of floss with a harder end which will make it easier for you. Make sure you floss each tooth on either side.
- Brush your teeth whenever you eat or drink (unless it is water).
- When brushing your teeth, focus on the areas under the lower and above the upper braces, as this is where food is most likely to be trapped.
- Remove elastics before brushing your teeth.
Oral hygiene is just as important if you are wearing aligners. You do not want a layer of plaque and acid trapped between your aligners and your teeth for 22 hours per day.
Brushing with braces on will take approximately 10 minutes.