Tuckahoe, NY – Taking proper care of your teeth and gums is always important, but never more so than when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. You’re working hard to follow your orthodontist’s directions in order to keep your treatment on track. Don’t let that work be wasted by slacking on your oral care routine.
Impact of Braces on Oral Hygiene
“Braces create a lot of nooks and crannies for plaque to build up, which can lead to decay,” says Dr. Sam Polan. “If you aren’t brushing and flossing diligently, plaque can build up at the brackets and at your gumline. Then, once your brackets are removed, you may notice that the color behind the brackets is no longer the same color as the rest of your teeth. It may appear as though your teeth have white stains, when in reality, the enamel behind the bracket has been preserved while the rest may have become discolored due to lack of proper hygiene.”
Maintaining a Healthy and Bright Smile Post-Braces: Guidelines
So, what can you do to ensure that your smile is as healthy and bright as possible once your braces are removed?
- Brush and floss regularly. Hopefully you were already in the habit of brushing at least twice a day and flossing once. Now that you’re in braces, you many find that you need to brush more often, especially after you eat. This will ensure that any food built up left behind on the brackets is cleaned away before it can damage your smile.
- Curb your snacking. Constantly introducing food and drink into your mouth increases the acidity level, which makes an environment more prone to cavities. Avoid snacking in between meals as much as possible, and drink only water. This will ensure a healthy pH level that will avoid decay and weaking of the enamel. It’s also a good idea to avoid acidic foods and drinks as much as possible. Citrus, sports, drinks, carbonated drunks like sodas, and sour foods and candies can erode our enamel. This can lead to staining.
- Say no to sugary drinks and foods. Avoiding sugar as much as possible is key to being healthy, but some studies also suggest that it isn’t the quantity of sugar consumed but rather the frequency of sugar intake that is harmful to our smiles. If you are constantly reaching for a soda to quench your thirst throughout the day, rather than water, you are constantly introducing sugars into your mouth.
- Avoid foods with higher stain power. We know we are supposed to eat the rainbow when it comes to our food, but some foods have much higher staining power than others. Red and yellow foods can stain more easily, especially when consumed frequently. Avoid things like beets, currants, curries, red wine, tomatoes, mustard, and coffee.
- Skip tooth whitening products. You may be tempted to add whitening toothpaste or other products to your oral care routine, but this isn’t a good idea while you’re in orthodontic treatment. That’s because the area under your brackets won’t be reached by the whitening products, so when your braces are removed, that portion of your teeth will be a different color. We are happy to help you determine what whitening product will be best for you once your braces are removed.
- Put out those cigarettes. Smoking not only yellows your teeth, but it can also make your teeth more prone to plaque buildup, can damage your gums, and can weaken your bones.
Maintaining Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment
So, how can you avoid staining your teeth during your time in orthodontic treatment?
The most important thing you can do is establish a good oral care routine right away. Brush thoroughly, and after every meal if possible. An electric toothbrush can be a great addition to your oral care routine, especially one that has a built-in timer. We recommend packing a travel toothbrush and toothpaste to carry with you to school and to work so you can brush on the go.
Floss at least once a day. Flossing can help ensure you’ve removed any debris from your braces. Using a floss threader can make flossing under the wires much easier. We also recommend adding a waterpik into your oral care routine. Waterpiks use a stream of water to clean at your gumline and around the brackets.
Don’t forget to maintain your appointments with your dentist. You’ll visit your orthodontist’s office often, but you should maintain your twice-yearly appointments with your dentist, as well. This will ensure that any potential problems are caught and treated before they become bigger issues.
If you ever have questions about how to properly care for your teeth while in braces, Dr. Polan and his team are always available to answer your questions. They want to see a gorgeous smile when your braces are removed, so they are here to help you every step of the way. Call Tuckahoe Family Orthodontics at 914-654-1859 with any questions or concerns.