Hygiene Instructions – How To Stay Healthy – Orthodontics

Cleaning your teeth is extremely important even when not wearing braces. But when wearing braces, it becomes even more important and more challenging. Once you have braces, extra effort must be put into proper brushing and flossing.


The presence of braces on your teeth will physically prevent your tooth brush from easily accessing certain areas, particularly, the areas between your gums and the braces and underneath the arch wire which connects each bracket. Therefore, you must learn new techniques for accessing these areas.dental care - orthodontics

– Buy a new tooth brush (the softest Crest brand is highly recommended). It must be very soft to reach under the wires and braces!
– Brushing with toothpaste and flossing should be performed after every meal. It is best to avoid eating in between meals.
– The goal of brushing is to remove all bacterial plaque that forms on the teeth and braces.
– When wearing braces you must focus on brushing each bracket on all four sides and then check to verify that all areas have been cleaned.
– Use very short brushing strokes and work the bristles of the brush underneath the wire and brackets, in between all teeth, and underneath the gums.
– To verify that you have been successful, use a disclosing agent (the doctor will supply these tablets). The disclosing agent will preferentially stain plaque red so that missed areas are easily visible. Then you can simply brush away the red areas. If you do not detect any red-stained plaque, congratulations on doing a great job.
– We recommend using a leading brand of tartar control toothpaste such as Crest or Colgate. These pastes contain the most effective formulations of abrasives and tartar inhibitors. Try to avoid gimmicky brands, especially those without the ADA seal.

Avoid Sugary Foods and Beverages

Eating any type of sugar or sweets will rapidly accelerate plaque formation because sugar is the favorite food of the bacteria! Bacterial plaque damages your teeth by secreting acid onto the surface of the tooth enamel. The acid produced by the plaque literally dissolves the tooth enamel as water dissolves table salt or sugar. Production of acid by the bacterial occurs as a direct consequence of exposure to sugars!
When the enamel is even lightly damaged by plaque acid, the enamel surface loses translucency and a chalky white spot is produced which is analogous to “scarring” of the tooth. This is referred to as a localized decalcification and is a permanent and very unsightly defect.

There are methods of removing these unsightly spots on the teeth once braces are removed. However, these methods require the removal of the damaged enamel. Tooth enamel is irreplaceable and once lost, it cannot be reformed. Instead, restorative materials (bonding agents) are used to replace the lost enamel. Although quite effective, if extensive repair work is required, it can be quite expensive. Fortunately, avoiding damage to the enamel is quite simple if one is diligent with hygiene practices.

Brush Your Tongue

dental hygiene

Good hygiene practices should always include a thorough brushing of the tongue. Often overlooked by adolescents, tongue brushing is vital to maintaining fresh breath and reducing the number of bacteria in your mouth. This is because the same bacterial that form plaque on the teeth also form a plaque on the dorsum of the tongue. This plaque often appears as a white-ish color film on the do

rsum of the tongue and may often become discolored by food or drink (especially coffee). The bacteria secrete noxious waste products that cause bad breath. Tongue plaque can be even more difficult to remove than tooth plaque and often requires many vigorous cycles of brushing and rinsing…brushing and rinsing. Brushing and rinsing should continue until only the natural pinkish flesh color of the tongue is visible.


When flossing many will find it arduous to thread floss underneath the wire. It’s tough but it must be done regularly! You are otherwise placing your dental health at great risk because you are far more likely to get a cavity between your teeth when wearing braces.

To make it easier to floss and clean under braces, a number of helpful products are available at drug stores and grocery stores. A “floss threader” works on the same premise as a sewing needle and greatly simplifies flossing by allowing you to easily thread the floss under the archwire of your braces. Oral B manufactures SuperFloss which is floss with a rigid end designed to be threaded underneath the braces. It’s a little easier than using a separate piece of floss with a floss threader. Gore also makes a similar product called “Glide Threader”. Other similar products are likely available which allow for easier flossing. Oral B also makes two kinds of interdental brushes. These little brushes look like pipe cleaners and are designed for accessing difficult to reach areas of your braces.

Bleeding Gums

When brushing and flossing, always look for areas of bleeding from your gums. Bleeding is a sign of inflammation and is a definite indication that your gums are infected and that you are not cleaning the area adequately. Do not be alarmed by the bleeding. But be sure to pay extra close attention to cleaning areas that bleed. If you clean these areas regularly, the bleeding will stop in a matter of weeks as the inflammation resolves and the area heals. Bleeding is a sign of infection and irritation from the bacterial plaque which accumulates in every crevice in your mouth. It will only be resolved by mechanical cleaning (brushing and flossing). While anti-bacterial rinses can help speed the process of healing, they certainly cannot cure the problem alone. Rinses that you buy at the store can be good adjuncts to brushing and flossing but should never be considered as a substitute.

Hey — You Got Braces! They look great!

Well, okay, they look like braces. But when they are all finished doing their job, your teeth will be beautiful, and your smile will be amazing!

While you are wearing your braces, we’d like to remind you that there are things that you can do to help your braces do their job as fast as possible, and to make sure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful:orthodontics

Regular Appointments: Be sure to come and see us for all of your regularly scheduled appointments. Your braces need to be adjusted every four weeks or so in order to do their job and correct your bite. If you miss appointments, your treatment time could be extended.
Loose Bands or Brackets: If you have a loose band or bracket, call us right away. We will make arrangements to see you as soon as possible. Even if you have a regular appointment coming soon, please call us. We can’t always fit in the time it takes to do a repair during your regular visit. Loose bands or brackets will definitely prolong treatment. More here
Brushing: Brush your teeth frequently and thoroughly. Poor brushing can lead to permanent damage to your teeth and gums.
Your Family Dentist: Visit your family dentist regularly during your treatment. You want to be sure that your teeth stay healthy and free of decay during your treatment.
Sugar: Avoid excess sugar and pop, and be sure to brush right away after any sugary treats.

Foods to avoid with braces

Even with braces, you can eat most of the foods that you normally like. However, there are some things that you should avoid because they can break or damage your braces.

Gum, sugarless or otherwise

Sticky foods – caramels, Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies, Starbursts; licorice, Tootsie Rolls, toffee, caramel apples
Hard foods – nuts, hard candy, popcorn, hard pizza crust, apples or carrots (unless cooked or cut into small pieces), ice, corn on the cob, jerky
Avoid biting on pens and pencils

Foods you CAN eat with braces

Meats/poultry – chicken, meatballs, burgers, lunch meats, etc.
Seafood – tuna, salmon, crab cakes, shrimp, etc.
Vegetables – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans, etc.
Dairy – soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
Bread – soft bread, soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
Grains – pasta, soft-cooked rice
Fruits – harder fruits cut into pieces, applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
Treats – ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake, pie
In fact, most of your favorite foods

Handling Orthodontic Emergencies

Any injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment in the future. Here’s a quick summary of what to do for some common difficulties with braces.orthodontics

Broken Archwires: If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue or gums, call us right away so that we can schedule you for an appointment to repair it. Until your appointment, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or a piece of gauze until you can get to us. Never cut the wire.
Loose Brackets and Bands: If a bracket or band loosens or breaks, please call us right away so that we can schedule you for an appointment for repairs. While you are waiting to come to see us, temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See us as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call us for an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced). More on this website