Care and Maintenance of Braces
Orthodontic braces come in a variety of types but most are held in place by the use of springs clips, wires and rubber bands. Cleaning, care and maintenance of braces is an important daily function in order to keep the teeth and gums free from bacteria and plaque, and to stop decay. Your braces are in place to provide you with stronger, healthier teeth; if you skip cleaning your braces then you are increasing the risk of gum infection and tooth decay.
Frequency of CleaningIf you wear braces it is important to clean them after every meal. Food particles are more easily trapped in the mechanisms of dental braces and can then fall through and become lodged between the teeth. Care and maintenance of your braces will add extra time to your at home dental care regime, but it is imperative that the task is carried out at least twice a day, however, orthodontists do recommend cleaning after every meal.
Cleaning InstrumentsAlthough the instruments used to clean your teeth, such as a tooth brushes and dental floss, are still needed, there are a few special cleaning items that are required. A proxabrush, which is a brush shaped like a Christmas tree, is needed to clean between braces. An interdental brush can also be used to clean between the braces, and oral irrigators can also reach between braces and remove food particles and plaque.
Flossing and Brushing for Dental BracesFlossing of the teeth should begin by pushing the floss through the arch wire and gently moving the floss back and forward on both sides of the tooth. Do not use force when flossing close to the arch wire.
Brushing should begin with a soft toothbrush, top to bottom on each tooth that has a brace attached. You should then use the proxabrush to brush between the braces and teeth. Make sure you cover all the surfaces of each tooth before moving onto the next tooth. Continue with this procedure until all teeth have been cleaned. Orthodontists also recommend the use of a fluoride mouthwash that will help rinse away any extra debris that is left in the mouth after brushing, and will help prevent cavities.
Cleaning of RetainersIf you wear a retainer it is important that this is cleaned whenever you clean your teeth. Brush the retainer clear of food at least twice per day. Also soak the retainer in a denture cleaning solution at least once per week.
Foods to AvoidThe wires used in braces are not too fragile but eating hard foods such as toffees, apples or nuts, should be avoided. Hard foods can bend or break the wires, and a dental visit will need to be scheduled in order adjust the braces. Also avoid sugary snacks as this will only increase the risk of tooth decay. You can still eat this type of food but it is better to cut the food into small pieces. There will be less chance of the food become stuck or damaging the braces, and it will also make the braces easier to clean.
Broken or Loose BracesOver time, brackets and wires may become loose; if this does happen you may be able to resolve the problem yourself. Your orthodontist should have provided you with orthodontic wax, and this can be used to slip brackets and wires back into place. If rubber bands become loose, or wires are broken, then a visit to the orthodontist will be needed to either adjust or replace these.
The responsibility for the care and maintenance of braces is down to the wearer. If sports are being played, then the sensible thing would be to wear a mouth guard at all times, in order to protect your braces. Likewise, a daily dental cleaning routine will help cut problems such as gum infection and tooth decay. Your orthodontist is also on hand at all times to help with any problems; your dental health is the orthodontists and dentists first priority.