Caring for braces
When you have braces, your teeth need a little extra love and care to stay clean and healthy. Here's what you need to know.
Having braces can be a transformational experience, giving you a straight smile that you love and feel good about. However, it’s important to take extra steps to care for your teeth while you have braces, as the process can increase your chances of discolouration and cavities forming on your teeth.
Cleaning teeth with braces
To prevent unwanted dental problems while you have braces, here are a few guidelines to follow.
1. Cut back on sugar
Minimise the consumption of soft drinks and sweet snacks during treatment. Braces are extra surfaces for foods to stick to your teeth, so you will need to be more diligent to keep your teeth clean. Hard lollies can also damage or detach parts of the braces.
2. Brush well
Brush with a soft toothbrush for two minutes, at least twice a day. This should be done in front of a mirror so you can see if you have removed all food and plaque from your teeth. All removable parts of the braces (such as elastics) should be removed before you brush. Electrical toothbrushes can make cleaning easier.
3. Floss at least once a day
Floss between the teeth and under the wires of your braces. You can use a ‘floss threader’ or an ‘interdental toothbrush’ to help you clean between your teeth. Alternatively, you can use Superfloss, which can make flossing easier when you have braces.
You can get these products from any supermarket or chemist. If you are having trouble cleaning your teeth, ask your orthodontist or dentist for advice.
4. Make sure to have your regular check-ups with your dentist
They will ensure that your teeth stay clean and healthy.
“Braces are extra surfaces for foods to stick to your teeth, so you will need to be more diligent to keep your teeth clean.”
Possible difficulties with braces
Here are a few common issues that might come up, and what you can do:
• Something is rough or sharp
Braces can feel uncomfortable, as there is something foreign in your mouth. Your orthodontist will often supply you with ‘orthodontic wax’ which you can use to cover any potential rough or sharp areas.
If you place the wax against the areas of concern it can significantly relieve discomfort. If the wax isn’t enough, contact your orthodontist, as it could be a component that is out of place.
• Something is missing
If something appears missing from your braces, try to identify what is missing and let your orthodontist know as soon as you can, so you can determine if you need to be seen urgently or if the matter can wait.
If you are having difficulty breathing, you may have inhaled a component and should go to the hospital.
• My teeth hurt. Is that normal?
Discomfort often occurs for a couple of days after each appointment. If the pain is difficult to tolerate, analgesics such as
Panadol can often help. If that doesn’t help, or if the pain has started several days after your appointment, it could be a problem unrelated to the braces, and you should see your orthodontist or dentist to determine the cause of the pain.