Monday, January 5, 2009

Keeping Your Braces Clean in the New Year

It's a new year, so resolve to keep your teeth cleaner! When you have braces, it can seem daunting to keep your teeth clean enough, but it's essential. If you let too much plaque and debris build up on your teeth, it can cause bad breath and decay.

Do you have to brush your teeth after every single meal and snack? Realistically, you will probably not be able to. But if you commit to brushing after most major meals, you will keep your teeth reasonably clean. When you can't brush, swish your mouth several times with water. This is especially helpful after eating sweets or drinking sugary beverages.

Brushing teeth that have braces is not hard. At first you may find it more time consuming than before you had braces. But as the weeks go on, you will fall into your new oral hygiene routine.

  1. Rinse with warm water a couple of times to dislodge any food particles.

  2. Use a gum massager or dental pick to dislodge any particularly stubborn particles that are badly stuck in your brackets.

  3. Now you can use a small amount of toothpaste and brush your teeth. It is best to use circular, vibrating motions around the gum line. Angle your toothbrush above and below the brackets. Scrub each surface of every tooth with 10 strokes of the toothbrush. This should take several minutes -- be as thorough as possible. Don't forget to also clean the surfaces of the molars and to also brush your tongue!

  4. Rinse again with water several times to remove food debris.

  5. Floss your teeth at least once a day, then rinse again. Floss threader needles, or threader floss which has a stiff end make it easier. It can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming to floss your teeth when you have orthodontic braces, but the more you practice, the easier and faster it will become. It's great to use a Waterpik-type device, but as most dentists will tell you, a Waterpik is not a total substitute for dental floss. So, as much as you may hate to floss, it is necessary, especially when you have braces!

When I had braces on my teeth (I wore them for three years, when I was in my early 40's) I found several products extremely helpful, and we sell them all at