So you have decided to get braces, CONGRATS! Your new smile will be ready before you know it, that is, if you take care of your teeth while you have your braces on. We all know that we should brush our teeth twice a day and floss regularly, but did you know that having braces requires some additional maintenance?
Plaque and Germs
Traditional braces add to the amount of surface area in your mouth which means there is more space for tooth decaying, acid-producing bacteria and plaque to stick to. Food particles can get stuck between the wire and your teeth, so not only do you need to brush your teeth in the morning and before bed, but you also need to make sure that your braces stay clean throughout the day. Your orthodontist can recommend additional tools and special flossers designed to help you clean around your braces to help you keep the germs at bay. In addition, having food stuck in your braces, especially in the hard to reach or see places toward the back of your mouth, can cause bad breath as well as tooth decay, so carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you everywhere so you can brush after every meal.
Inflamed gums are another potential complication from improper oral hygiene with braces. Due to the increased risk of bacteria build-up, your gums could become inflamed as a result of that bacteria. This can lead to the beginning stages of gum disease called gingivitis, so don’t forget that toothbrush!
The longer food and bacteria stay on your teeth, the more discolored your teeth may become. Dark-colored sodas, coffee, tea, and red wine can all stain your teeth over time. Braces are affixed to your teeth with brackets that are glued to the sides of your teeth. The bracket covers a small area of each tooth, essentially protecting it from the discoloring effect of these drinks. If you do not brush after drinking dark-colored liquids, when you get your braces removed, it is not uncommon to have the small areas where the brackets were to be a different color than the rest of your teeth. Most of the time this can be corrected with tooth whitening treatments, but that is an additional expense that can potentially be avoided or minimized with regular brushing.
You have made an investment in your smile, protect that investment by taking care of your braces and your teeth with proper oral hygiene habits.