The day the braces are placed, extra time is scheduled for patient education. We will thoroughly review all aspects of oral hygiene, and we will give you a new patient kit filled with everything you need to take outstanding care of your teeth. Good oral hygiene cannot be stressed enough during orthodontic treatment. Good hygiene practices allow for healthier gums, faster tooth movement, and tremendously reduce the chance of having enamel scarring once the brackets are removed. If oral hygiene is less than ideal, we will recommend more frequent visits to see your dentist for cleanings.
After your braces are placed, you will notice more difficulty keeping your teeth clean. Brackets and archwires create areas that trap food and plaque against the surfaces of the teeth. Dental plaque contains acid producing bacteria that can scar enamel creating white spots that may be permanent. To ensure the teeth stay clean and healthy, remember to brush thoroughly above and below the brackets, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to brush using small circles on all surfaces of each tooth. Flossing should be performed daily using the techniques and supplies demonstrated at each monthly visit. A Waterpik can be used to assist debris removal, but it should not be considered a substitute for flossing.
Food to Crave and Food to Save:
Be assured that there are plenty of wonderful foods to enjoy throughout your orthodontic treatment. There are some types of food that can cause damage to the brackets and wires. When components get damaged, the results are: patient discomfort, unwanted tooth movement, additional trips to our office, and increased treatment times. To help you decide which foods are appropriate, remember, the glue holding the brackets to the teeth can fail under pressure. When pressure is applied that exceeds the strength of the glue, the brackets will “pop” off the enamel surface. Therefore, hard foods should be avoided: popcorn, candies, nuts, ice, hard chips, hard bread, corn on the cob, and tough meats like jerky or those containing bones.
Sticky foods are also very damaging, and should be avoided all together. Examples: Caramels, Sugar Babies, Jolly Ranchers, Taffy, Star-Bursts, Skittles, Toffee-etc.
In general, it is good to avoid processed sugars as much as possible. It is sugar in our diets that feed the bacteria responsible for causing enamel scarring. Try to eat foods with low sugar content, and avoid sodas and other drinks with high amounts of sugar.
Retainers are very important to make sure that your teeth remain straight and stable in the same position. Teeth have a great deal of “memory” and will try to return to their original position once the braces are removed. All patients have different levels of relapse potential, and some will need to sleep in their retainers every night indefinitely.
Your retainers should be cleaned every time you brush your teeth. Simply brush the appliance using a regular tooth brush and tooth paste. Whenever you remove your retainer from your mouth, place it in a carrying case. Never, never place a retainer in a napkin, as this is the most common way retainers are lost. In addition, animals frequently chew retainers left in easily accessible places. Dogs can quickly damage retainers beyond repair.