Keeping a Healthy Smile
Braces create small ledges, nooks, and crannies for food deposits, which can lead to cavities and gum problems. This makes brushing and flossing even more important while you are wearing braces. When you brush and floss, handle your appliances carefully so you won’t break or loosen them. Following these brushing and eating tips will keep your appliances and your smile healthy.
Be sure to brush your teeth immediately after every meal and before you go to bed. It’s best to use a fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Dr. Koen may prescribe a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities. Try to brush like this:
- Start by brushing the outside of each tooth.
- Then brush where your gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion.
- Brush the inside surface of each tooth.
- Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth last.
- Brush your tongue too.
Because your toothbrush won’t reach between your teeth, brushing alone won’t keep your teeth clean and healthy. Flossing can help. A floss threader, available from us or a pharmacy, helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day, like this:
- Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
- Pull the floss gently between two teeth and by wrapping it around the side of one tooth at a time, slide the floss carefully up under your gum margins.
- Rinse with lots of clean water, and watch your teeth and braces sparkle.
We highly recommend a water pic for all of our patients, especially those with functional appliances such as expanders or CBJ (Herbst) appliance. Be thorough but try not to shoot the water directly under the gum.
Use a fluoridated toothpaste. Dr. Koen may prescribe a fluoride toothpaste if necessary.
You should be brushing at least three times a day — once at breakfast, at lunch, and before you go to bed. If you are not able to brush after you eat, be sure to rinse thoroughly with water, and NEVER skip brushing at night before you go to bed.
While you are wearing braces, you can eat almost all of your favorite foods. However, we recommend that you follow these tips to protect your teeth and braces:
- Stay away from sticky, chewy foods like taffy, caramels, jerky, and absolutely no gum (even sugar-free).
- Stay away from crunchy foods like corn chips, nuts, popcorn, corn nuts, and even ice.
- Hard foods like apples and carrots need to be cut into bite-size pieces.
- Eating fewer sweets helps fight cavities. Watch for the “hidden sugars” in fruit drinks, cereals, and soda.