Getting traditional metal or ceramic braces is one of the best ways to effectively straighten your teeth. However, these fixed orthodontic appliances can be challenging to clean. Brackets and wires make it more difficult for regular toothbrushes to reach the all surfaces of your teeth, and you’ll need flossing aids to effectively clean between your teeth. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can keep your smile bright and healthy while you’re receiving orthodontic treatment.
Switch to an Electric Toothbrush
Research shows that electric toothbrushes tend to clean teeth with braces better than manual ones . Not only do electric toothbrushes do a better job of cleaning your teeth, but they also tend to have smaller brush heads, making it easier for the brush to clean around your braces and wires to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
Keep in mind that regardless of whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, the brush heads will wear out faster due to your braces, so replace them as soon as the bristles are frayed. Frayed bristles can damage gum tissue and won’t be as effective at cleaning your smile!
Use Flossing Aids or a Water Flosser
There’s no doubt that flossing is a bit more of a chore with fixed metal braces. However, you can make flossing much easier and effective by using flossing aids such as floss threaders, which are inexpensive and help you thread floss between wires to clean your gums.
A water flosser is another excellent tool for cleaning beneath your gumline and between teeth when you have braces. According to research, water flossers effectively remove plaque for patients who have fixed orthodontic appliances . You can continue to use the water flosser for healthy gums after you get your braces off.
Although mouthwash isn’t always necessary when it comes to cleaning your smile, it can be a worthy consideration for those with braces. Mouthwash has been shown to better control plaque in the oral cavity for patients with fixed metal braces .
You can ask your dentist or orthodontist to recommend a mouthwash for you, or choose any mouthwash designed to control plaque or is labeled as anti-cavity. Remember to always use mouthwash as directed, and never use it in place of brushing and flossing, just as a supplement to your regular oral care routine.
Don’t Forget to Eat Healthy
Eating healthy can help support a healthy smile while you have braces. The more added sugar and refined carbohydrates you eat, the more plaque you may have in your oral cavity and the higher your risk for tooth decay .
If you’re able, limit added sugars in your diet and focus on fresh, whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and healthy fats such as fish and olive oil. Your smile—and your body—will thank you!
See Your Dentist
Your dentist is an integral part of your oral care while you have metal braces, as they can give your teeth a thorough cleaning to reduce plaque and bacteria, therefore lowering your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Don’t forget to continue to see your dentist while you have braces in addition to taking care of your smile with the above tips!