We cannot stress enough the importance of good oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment. We all agree that it does take additional time, care and awareness of brushing your teeth properly during treatment. There are so many braces, wires, springs and rubber bands that the patient must contend with which requires a lot of energy and attention. Believe me when I say it will all pay off in the end if you spend just 10 minutes of your day taking care of your teeth by brushing 3 times a day for 2 minutes and flossing 1 time a day.
The big culprit is the dreaded PLAQUE! With or without braces you naturally build-up plaque, (a white film or coating on your teeth). Plaque needs to be removed every time you brush! By leaving plaque on your teeth, it will continue to build-up day after day which causes a sequence of poor oral hygiene issues, especially with braces since there are so many places for plaque to hide.
Leaving plaque on your teeth for long periods of time will break down the minerals in your enamel which can never be replaced! First signs usually are swollen gum tissues which may bleed when you brush. Most people think they need to “back off” on brushing when they see blood, but in fact, they are screaming for attention. Best approach is to brush your TEETH AND GUMS with a soft bristle tooth brush and give them a two minute “massage” rather than a 30 second scrub. If the problem still goes unattended you may develop periodontal disease. Another sign that the plaque is doing irreversible damage will appear as white marks around your braces. This is known as decalcification. This plaque is robbing your teeth of very important minerals. This is the beginning of a CAVITY! With decalcification, the enamel becomes soft and open for DECAY.
Active steps to prevent plaque build-up:
It is strongly advised that you continue to see your dentist every six months for your regular cleanings during your orthodontic treatment. Remember: your orthodontist is straightening your teeth and your dentist is cleaning them.
Use a fluoride tooth paste that is approved by the American Dental Association. Brush your teeth for 2 minutes 3 times a day and floss 1 time a day.
Double check your brushing. After you brush, get 2 inches from the mirror and LOOK! Plaque is very difficult to see 3-4 feet away and blends into your natural tooth coloring. If you see you’ve missed some spots, BRUSH AGAIN. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it and know HOW to brush., Don’t be afraid to ask your orthodontist for instructions. They are always willing to help and educate.
One way Windsor Smiles Orthodontics takes that additional steps to help ensure their patients don’t develop decalcification is by applying a thin coat of Opal Seal fluoride that acts like a shell around the braces. This can be applied every six months if needed.
Windsor Smiles Orthodontics also offers their patient the opportunity to purchase a Waterflosser by Waterpik. Flossing is time consuming a challenging, especially to our young orthodontic patients. The Waterflosser is a hand held wand that has a special orthodontic tip to get to those hard to reach places. This is a great alternative to the traditional manual thread flossing technique and it’s FUN!