Are You Looking After Your Smile?

A comprehensive guide to cleaning and maintaining your braces

Braces can do wonders – if you let them. They correct jaw alignment, straighten teeth, and contribute towards improving oral health. But to do their work, they require some effort from you. Your orthodontist will explain the various measures you need to take to look after your braces.

Keeping your braces clean and well-maintained is very, very important. Your treatment is likely to fail if you don’t. This article explains what you can do to help your braces help you.

1. Eating right

Avoid hard foods as much as possible. These include hard candies, raw crunchy fruits and vegetables and popcorn. Don’t chew on non-food items like nails or pens either. If you want to eat healthy hard foods (does anyone still say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?), cut them into small pieces first

Avoid sticky and chewy foods like gummy bears, sticky caramel and dried fruit. There’s a chance they’ll get stuck in the braces, and the last thing you want is for your braces to break while you’re trying to dig the food out.

Avoid sugary foods – or at least keep them down to a minimum. Sugar is really bad for the teeth and it’s especially bad if you’re wearing braces because plaque can build up in all sorts of places, including the space around the brackets.

2. Cleaning right

Brush after you eat – you may need to brush your teeth after every single meal. This is because food is easily trapped in braces and unless properly removed, it leads to tooth decay and could even damage the braces.

Rinsing your mouth before you start brushing helps dislodge the larger food particles stuck in your teeth and/or braces.

Remove the interarch rubber bands before brushing (don’t connect them with the ligature bands that connect your teeth together). Removing the interarch bands helps you brush your braces and teeth more thoroughly.

Cover all your bases. Make sure you brush your teeth, the gum line and the brackets. Always brush for at least two minutes each time and don’t forget to rinse when you’re done. Be gentle when you’re brushing – you don’t want your brackets to break. If you wear invisible braces, you can brush them separately.

Floss at least once a day. If the wires are making it difficult, get yourself a floss threader or a water flosser. Consult your orthodontist to determine which product will work best for the kind of braces you have.

3. Change interarch rubber bands daily

The interarch rubber bands connect your top teeth to the bottom – they endure a lot of stress so they need to be replaced once a day. Don’t neglect this. Leaving them be will cause them to break more easily and do their work less efficiently.

4. Understand that different braces have different requirements.

Ceramic braces for instance, stain easily. And the whole point of them is that they should be clear. So skip drinks that can cause stains such as coffee or wine. Or at least, brush your teeth immediately afterwards. If you have invisible braces, take them out before eating. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult your orthodontist. That’s why it’s important to have a doctor you can trust – you shouldn’t be afraid to ask them anything.