A crooked smile brings a whole lot of problems. It can be the reason behind frequent headaches and tense muscles, as well as ear and jaw pain. Getting braces can set it right, but this introduces a whole new set of challenges. Especially when it comes to cleaning your teeth. Today we’ll be talking about how to brush and floss with braces.
Should you use an electric toothbrush? What about brightening toothpaste? What kind of mouthwash is best? Get ready for all that and more.
I know, braces can make you really insecure. They can even stop you from smiling when you’re in public. A few might cover their mouth to avoid the embarrassment of bad breath, yellow teeth, and leftover food. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you’re getting ready to brush.
1. Invest extra time
Normally, brushing your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes would be perfectly fine. But that’s not enough when it comes to braces. You really need to grind hard, literally! With wires all around your teeth, it leaves more room for bacteria and food particles to hide. Reaching these slits and corners can be difficult and may take a little more of your time. But don’t worry, your teeth will thank you afterwards. If you have braces, be prepared to spend extra time in front of your sink. You’ll have to brush three times a day to get all the plaque off. Before you start, make sure you take out all elastic bands and removable parts from your mouth.
2. Use regular toothpaste
Any flavored toothpaste will work fine. Just make sure to avoid brightening toothpaste. Brightening toothpaste works on regular teeth. If you have braces, it will only whiten the parts of your teeth that aren’t covered by brackets. When your braces finally come off, you’ll be left with dark spots on your teeth. Your smile will only look worse. Don’t use whitening mouthwash with braces, either. You can try all these things once they come off.
3. Brush in three directions
This one’s really important. Start by going along the top of your braces in a small circular movement from one side to the other. Then do the same thing under your braces. At the end, brush right on top of those metal wires in brackets. Once that’s done, start brushing the surfaces of your teeth. Begin with your front teeth all the way until you reach the last tooth. Don’t forget to clean the inner surface of your teeth facing the tongue.
4. Electric brushes
Reaching every corner of your mouth with a manual toothbrush may seem like a task. Feel free to use an electric toothbrush. They get more work done with less effort, plus the results are great. Research has also shown that electric brushes have a greater potential for cleaning teeth than manual ones. A few brushes are specially designed for braces. Powered brushes are gentle on them, as they work at a slower speed. Swollen and bleeding gums are going to happen if you forget to brush around the gums. Hard brushes and bad brushing techniques will only make things worse. Powered brushes go easy on the gum line, keeping them pink and clean. Give a quick rinse and carefully examine every tooth in the mirror. Check for any stubborn food particles that won’t leave. This generally includes salad, shreds of carrot, cucumber, meat and fruits.
Some of you might be wondering what this is. You will need a proxy brush to get rid of the tough food particles. The head of this flexible brush bends to fit inside tight spaces. Brush the underside of the wire that faces your tooth. If you want your mouth to feel fresh, use some minty toothpaste.
I know I said a minute ago that you should avoid whitening mouthwash. Well that’s a specific kind that can do damage to the braces. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other useful types. Maybe use some mild mouthwash. It has terrific antibacterial properties. But make sure you do it a little while after brushing. Perhaps use some mouthwash after finishing your meal?
Some of you are cringing at just the thought of having to floss. Yes, flossing can be annoying, but is just so important. If you skip out on flossing, you’ll only be harboring more bacteria and germs. The problem is that when you have braces, flossing becomes one heck of a chore. What’s usually a pretty simple task turns into what feels like a hard day’s work. You need to floss at least once on a daily basis. If you have braces, they can take a good 10 to 15 minutes to do. Let’s get into some of the details so we can make flossing easier for you.
Take around 18 to 24 inches of floss. Make sure it’s enough to wind around your fingers. This way, you’re able to handle it easier. Wrap the ends of the floss around both index fingers and move it gently between your teeth. When I mean gentle, I mean be gentle. Try to reach the topmost part of your tooth if you’re cleaning the upper front teeth. Slide the floss down from the topmost part of your tooth to the side.
Don’t panic in case of accidents
Accidents happen when you floss. No, I’m not talking about breaking the string. Although, that is pretty frustrating. This accident is specific to people with braces. If you pull floss forcefully, you may pop a bracket out. This may not be an emergency, but call your dentist anyway, and see if you can get it fixed.
Being able to pass floss between the wire and tooth is a bit tricky. Using a small floss threader can come in handy. It looks like a big plastic needle. This will help you pass floss behind the braces quickly. Your orthodontist may have a free sample in case you’re having difficulty.
Flossing is not for everybody. If you have sensitive gums, which are already swollen and bleeding, flossing them can worsen that situation. Instead, try using dental tape. Dental tape is like a flattened ribbon. Unlike the traditional floss, it acts as a sponge. Dental tape will slide much easier than typical floss. Use it until your gums stop bleeding. Once they’ve returned to normal, switch over to floss.
Just like electric brushes have an edge over manual brushing, water flossers have an edge over regular floss. It’s a small device that pours a steady stream of water. Any person with or without braces can use it to get rid of debris between their teeth. Water flossers are pretty convenient. They come with detachable heads and generally, the tips are suitable to clean around your brackets. This machine has a water holder that can be filled with warm water, tap water or even mouthwash. Glide the nozzle in between your teeth and gums. Bend over the sink and keep your mouth closed to avoid splashing. Let the water flow out of your mouth while doing this. Repeat this process for all surfaces of your teeth. You can also try gently brushing with one hand, and pouring water from the flosser with the other.
Don’t miss your dentist appointment
Even after carefully cleaning your teeth, there are still some bacteria hanging around. This is the kind of thing your dentist needs to look at. Schedule a cleaning appointment. Specialized instruments and machinery at the dentist office can get rid of all the gross leftovers. If you have braces, it’s suggested you book an appointment every three months.