Braces, wires, springs, rubber bands, and other appliances can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away. Most orthodontists recommend brushing after every meal or snack with fluoride toothpaste and carefully removing any food that may have gotten stuck in your braces. Some orthodontists will also prescribe or recommend a fluoride mouthwash, which can get into places in the mouth that a toothbrush can’t reach.
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To floss teeth if you have braces, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main arch wire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the arch wire. Begin brushing teeth by using a regular soft toothbrush. Brush down from the top and then up from the bottom on each tooth with braces. Next, brush your teeth with a proxabrush or “Christmas tree” brush. This brush is specially designed for cleaning between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Use several strokes in each direction before moving on to the next space between two braces. Repeat the procedure until all teeth have been cleaned.
While wearing braces, most foods can still be eaten if you cut them into small pieces that can be easily chewed. There are certain foods, however, that can break or loosen braces and should be avoided, such as:
In addition to foods, do not chew ice or bubble gum.
Every time you brush your teeth, brush your retainer as well. Once a day or at least once a week, disinfect the retainer by soaking it in a denture cleanser, such as Efferdent®, Polident®, or other brand name solutions. Add the cleanser to a cup full of warm — but never hot — water. Thoroughly rinse the retainer with plain water before placing it back in your mouth.
You can continue to participate in any sport if you have braces. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouthguard will need to be worn. The mouthguard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over braces and will protect the soft tissues inside the mouth.
Broken braces, loose bands, or protruding wires can cause problems but rarely require emergency treatment. However, do call your orthodontist to set up an office visit to fix the problem. If you suffer a more severe mouth or facial injury, seek immediate help. Here’s some tips to get through some of the more common problems until you are able to see your orthodontist:
Because braces and retainers brush up against the inside surface of the mouth, you may be more prone to developing canker sores. If a canker sore develops, your orthodontist or dentist may prescribe a prescription or nonprescription solution to reduce the pain and irritation and help heal the sore.