Keeping Your Teeth Clean After Braces
Getting braces is a life-changing event for most teens and adults for a variety of reasons. First, there’s the change in your appearance, which affects everyone differently. Then there is the issue of how braces change what you can – or should – eat. Perhaps most troublesome is how to keep your teeth clean even though they are covered with brackets and wire so that when the braces come off your teeth aren’t yellowed and in poor shape.
Foods to avoid. There are two types of food to avoid while wearing braces. One is the type of food that can snap some of the metal in your mouth, triggering an emergency visit to the orthodontist. Do you chew ice without really thinking about it? Orthodontists say that’s one of the most common ways to damage your braces, followed by apples, hard candies and nuts. The second type of food to avoid with braces is anything that can get trapped between the braces and your teeth and form plaque that can lead to gum disease. Skittles, Starburst, caramel, taffy and even some bubble gums are best left in their wrappers. Popcorn is another popular snack that can wedge into tiny spaces in and around brackets and wires and can be nearly impossible to brush or floss away.
Brush and floss. A lot. Many orthodontists recommend keeping a travel brush so that you can brush after every meal or snack you have. Flossing can be more difficult, because of wires in the way. However, there are a number of products on the market, such as floss threaders, that make it possible to get the floss under the archwires of your braces. Check with your orthodontist to see what flossing products he or she recommends. And whenever possible, rinse your mouth thoroughly after you eat anything. A mouth rinse is helpful, but even swishing water around your mouth can get wash out tiny bits of food.
Don’t let plaque win. Plaque is the first stage of tooth decay and consists of bits of the food you’ve eaten, along with bacteria. Plaque can hide in the tiniest spaces in your mouth and can lead to bad breath, cavities, inflamed gums and decalcification – those white spots that never go away once they develop. Studies show that people with braces are at a higher risk for gum disease, which can be very serious if not treated immediately. Keeping your teeth clean with braces is about more than the way you look, it’s also about the health of your teeth and gums.