With braces, it is more important than ever to keep your teeth and gums their healthiest. Braces and other orthodontic appliances create more opportunities for food particles and bacteria to collect and thrive. This requires a new oral hygiene routine and good habits that promote the healthiest environment for your teeth and gums.
Foods to avoid when undergoing orthodontic treatment:
- Chewy or sticky foods — licorice, taffy, gummy bears, caramel candy, airhead candies, chewing gum, gummy candies, fruit chews
- Crunchy foods – chips, ice, hard candies including lollipops, nuts
- Popcorn — hulls may get lodged under the gums potentially causing swelling and pain
Some of the foods listed above can stick to the metal in your mouth and create an environment that is toxic to teeth and gums. Developing a good oral hygiene routine will hinder the growth of these harmful bacteria which cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Developing the Routine:
Always follow the rules. If you follow the rules given by your dentist and orthodontist, you might even get your braces off earlier than expected!
- Brush teeth after every meal or snack. Good brushing with a soft, round bristle toothbrush after every meal will reduce the buildup of plaque and neutralize the ph of your mouth which inhibits tooth decay. (If you do not have access to a toothbrush, rinse your mouth with mouthwash or water.)
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. If possible, avoid using a whitening toothpaste during orthodontic treatment as this will cause uneven whitening when braces are removed.
- Floss. Don’t worry you don’t have to floss all of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep! It is important to floss once a day, this will enhance healthy gums and allow your teeth to move more willingly.
- Change your toothbrush every 2 months because braces wear out the toothbrush more quickly.
- Consider using a waterpik in addition to the previous steps to aid in maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Lastly, if your braces are clean and shiny and you are able to see the edge of the bracket clearly, you are doing a good job! Dull braces and fuzzy edges indicate poor brushing (and your dentist will know).
If you have braces or are getting ready to get braces, you are taking responsibility for your dental health. Listen to your dentist and develop an effective oral hygiene routine that will guarantee your most beautiful smile. Remember, effort is like toothpaste, you can always squeeze out a little more.