Oral Hygiene routine tips from Smart Smile Orthodontics

As you eat, your teeth and braces will collect food. Bacteria from your mouth can quickly turn this food into plaque that forms acid to attack your teeth and toxins to attack your gums. This leads to demineralisation (white marks on your teeth) and tooth decay (holes), inflamed gums (swollen red and bleeding). To prevent this, you must thoroughly clean the food off your teeth and braces before it can be made into plaque; that means straight after every meal and snack.

Dental Visits

It is very important to continue to see your family dentist every 6 months for a check-up and thorough cleaning of your teeth. You may also need a professional fluoride treatment.

Brushing

Morning and night, brush your teeth and braces with your orthodontic toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
(Colgate Total is recommended because of its antibacterial ingredient)

Use your egg timer and brush for at least 3 minutes.

Clean your braces first. Angle your brush down onto your braces and apply pressure so that the bristles slide under the wire and between the teeth. Now move the brush in small circles. Spend about 10 seconds on each tooth before moving on to the next one. Do this from above and below the wire for all the teeth, then repeat the process for all the bottom teeth.

Now clean the area between your gums and the braces, where food collects and causes most harm. Angle your brush towards the gums and use the same circular motion as before.

Next brush the chewing surfaces and insides of your teeth.

Finally rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and take a good look in the mirror. Your teeth should be really clean and shiny. Your braces should sparkle!

Flossing

Flossing cleans the surfaces between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. It needs to be don’t at least once every day.

Because it takes time and is fiddly, it’s best to do this at night after dinner when you are not as rushed. Don’t leave it until bedtime when you’re tired.

Use the Super Floss we gave you. It comes in pre-cut strands with an inbuilt floss threader to make the job easier.

Thread the stiff end of the floss up under the archwire and pull it through to the thinner part of the floss. Wrap the floss around your fingers on either side of your teeth and slide the floss down between two teeth. You now have two surfaces to clean, one on each tooth. Work the floss against one tooth allowing it to slip under the gum. Use an up and down motion to move the floss against the tooth up to the wire and back down under the gum. Now move the floss over to the other tooth surface and clean it in the same way.

Pull the floss out from between these two teeth and thread it under the archwire between the next two teeth, cleaning them as before. Repeat this process for all the teeth, top and bottom.

Don’t worry if you don’t get the hang of flossing straightaway; the most important thing is to keep trying because practice makes perfect.

Interdental Brushing

This little brush is for cleaning hard to reach spaces. It is very useful to dislodge any food caught under the archwire. It is not a substitute for a toothbrush or floss because it can only clean under the wires and a little between the teeth; you still need to clean the danger zone as well as the chewing and inside surfaces of the teeth, and thoroughly between the teeth.

What to Eat with Braces

When you have braces you need to take special care with the foods you eat. One of the most important considerations while wearing your braces is your diet. Braces are very delicate and could be damaged if you eat the wrong foods. We also want you to minimise foods that are harmful to your teeth.

Your braces are attached with a light adhesive, after all, we want to be able to remove them one day without hurting you or harming your teeth! The trade-off is that you must be careful to avoid eating anything that is sticky or hard. Sticky and hard foods break off brackets, bend wires and loosen bands, all of which will delay your treatment.

Foods and drinks with a high sugar or acid content are harmful to teeth. Bacteria form your mouth can turn foods that contain sugar into plaque that forms acid to attack your teeth and toxins to attack your gums. You should limit your intake of sugary foods, or brush your teeth immediately afterwards to remove the sugar before the bacteria have a chance to turn it into acids and toxins. Foods with a high acid content can directly erode tooth enamel. Acidic foods should be avoided altogether; the harmful effect is immediate.

Many of us chew on things for no reason at all – fingernails, pens, pencils and ice block sticks.
Or sometimes we use our teeth for inappropriate things – ripping plastic bags, opening bobby pins, tearing sticky tape, and opening drink bottles. These are all habits that put extra pressure on the braces and will break them. Fiddling with your braces is another no-no!

It probably sounds like you’ll only be able to eat broccoli and mashed potatoes for the time your braces are on! Don’t despair – there are plenty of good foods that won’t hurt your braces or your teeth.

First aid for braces

Occasionally you may develop a problem between visits

Fortunately, you can fix many of these annoyances with quick, do-it-yourself remedies. At other times you may need to come into the office for an emergency visit so that we can help you.

After braces have been put on, it is usual for teeth to be sore for up to 24 hours. This initial discomfort may even last 3 to 4 days. Pain relief medication will help to relieve this discomfort. A soft diet is also recommended.

During the first few weeks of treatment, your lips and cheeks may become sore. If it is troubling you, place your orthodontic wax on the offending bracket. If you are out of wax, please speak with one of our friendly team, they will be delighted to assist you.

If your plate or retainer has been lost or broken it is essential to contact us immediately. We will then be able to organise the repair or replacement for you.

This is generally not an emergency unless you are going to get your braces off soon. Although it is not an emergency always notify us before your next visit so we can allow extra time to replace it.

Call the office during regular hours and arrange to have it fixed as soon as possible. Food trapped under a loose band can cause rapid tooth decay.

If the wire is not hurting you, just leave it and we will fix it next visit. Or, if it’s a problem, try to reinsert the wire into its tube yourself using needle-nosed pliers or eyebrow tweezers. Grab the wire, line it up with the hole and slide it back into position, flexing it if necessary. If you can’t manage this and the wire is causing discomfort, call and schedule a brief emergency appointment during regular office hours to replace it. As a last resort, you can use a nail clipper or small wire cutter to cut the wire. But only cut wires if nothing else works, you’re in pain, and you can’t get to the office.

As long as your next appointment is not to get your braces taken off and the missing module is not causing you pain, you do not need to call or come in for an emergency appointment. We will replace the missing ring at your next scheduled appointment. If you look closely at your bracket, you may see that it also had a tie wire on it.

Call our office during regular office hours for a short emergency appointment. This should be fixed within a few days after it occurs.

Did you run out? Call or visit the office and we will be able to help organise a replacement packet. Do not leave it to your next visit. Did you forget where to wear them? Call or visit the office; someone will check your records and let you know where they go. Is the hook broken or bent in? Call the office for a brief emergency visit to have it repaired by one of our orthodontists.

This just means that enough space has been created or already existed. You do not have to come in to have it replaced.

A little sideways movement is normal when wearing braces because the bone around the teeth is being remodelled. But if a tooth can be pushed up or down into the gum with just finger pressure, that is unusual. Please let us know if you notice this happening.

This is completely normal and only temporary. Your teeth have to move in lots of directions until they are in their final position. Dr Barber will close this space later; it won’t be there when the braces are removed.

For more information, or to request an appointment, please contact us today.