As patients of Roy orthodontist Dr. Carr know, good oral hygiene habits are vitally important for patients with kids’ braces or adult braces as poor oral care can lead to the development of permanent stains on the surface of teeth and increase the amount of time a patient needs to wear his or her braces. Studies have found that every poor oral hygiene entry into a patient’s chart increases treatment time by 2 ½ weeks, on average. Three or more chart entries for poor oral hygiene can increase treatment time by up to 9 ½ weeks. This can make getting braces even more expensive for patients and add additional time to how long they must wear an orthodontic device.
To make sure the amount of time our patients at Dr. Carr Orthodontics remains as brief as possible, here are a few tips on the best brushing and flossing practices for patients wearing kids’ or adult braces.
Techniques For Tooth Brushing
Patients with braces need to make time to brush after every meal – or at the very least twice a day if brushing after every meal isn’t an option – and to brush for 2 minutes each time. Unless you use the right technique, brushing with a manual toothbrush can leave a lot of plaque behind, so it’s not a bad idea to consider switching to an electric toothbrush.
The proper technique for brushing when wearing kids’ or adult braces involves the following steps:
- Hold the toothbrush parallel to the side of your teeth. Move the brush back and forth from tooth to tooth by following the natural grooves of your teeth and gums. If using an electric brush, gently guide the head of the brush from each tooth individually.
- Take time to thoroughly clean each tooth individually with your brush. While some overlap will naturally occur with the adjoining teeth, focusing on each tooth individually will help you better clean the mouth as a whole. If using an electric brush, hold the brush head over each tooth for a few second prior to moving on.
- Don’t forget to take the time to brush the backside of your teeth, as well as the back of your mouth and the top of your teeth.
- To clean brackets, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle starting from the bottom of the tooth. This angle should provide enough upward lift to adequately clean underneath the wires.
Brushing the metal brackets and wires of your kids’ braces or adult braces will cause your toothbrush to wear down more quickly than normally. Make sure to change out your brush whenever you notice the bristles have started to fray, break or fall out.
Technique For Flossing
While it might seem like a pain, it’s important to floss every night before brushing. In addition to helping straighten your smile, braces are also really good at trapping food particles, even if you think you’ve brushed really well.
Flossing around the wires on your braces requires using special “threader floss” that features a stiff tip that enables users to thread the floss between the brackets. However, much like using a needle and thread, you can use a separate plastic floss threader as a substitute to threader floss.
To correctly floss around braces:
- Thread the floss underneath the wire that sits in the space between two teeth. Push the floss part of the way through, then grasp both ends with the tips of your fingers.
- Work the floss back and forth gently between each tooth several times.
- At the gum line, curve the floss into a “U” shape.
- Make sure to floss beneath the gum line using a gentle up and down motion.
- Gently pull the floss out from between the gum line, thread it under the next wire, and repeat the process.
Overall, the flossing process should take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete at first. However, with a little time and practice, you can reduce that number while still providing the same level of efficiency and cleanliness.