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Getting braces for yourself or your child can be a major life decision. It’s going to change the look of your smile, give you more confidence, and braces can even reduce the long-term risks of gum disease and other oral health problems – if you take care of your smile while wearing them.
At Orthodontic Alliances we work hard to keep your teeth healthy while you’re wearing braces, but the work we do at our offices isn’t all it takes. In order to prevent oral health disasters you have to know just what can happen to your mouth and how to take care of it every day.
The Problem Of Plaque
Everyone’s mouths are filled with bacteria. From the moment we’re born there are hundreds of strains inhabiting our mouths, and we only gain more of them as we age. Bacteria is dangerous for your oral health because it metabolizes sugar into acid that eats away at your teeth.
Over time you can develop cavities and gum disease because of bacteria, and the risks are only greater when you add a braces – now there are new places for bacteria to hide.
The Cavity Connection
Both adults and children who wear braces have to be diligent about keeping them clean. Cavity rates in orthodontic patients skyrocket because it’s sometimes difficult to keep your teeth decay free when they’re covered in metal, but it’s essential that you do.
It’s not uncommon for brackets to leave a chalky white outline behind. That outline is the first stage of tooth decay caused by bacteria that wasn’t properly cleaned off, and while those outlines can be removed they can also spell future dental trouble.
Teeth that are starting to give way to plaque acids look chalky because the outer layer of enamel is almost completely worn away. We call this demineralization, and if it continues you’ll end up with brown spots, and then eventual full-blown cavities.
A Gum Disease Guarantee?
Gingivitis and gum disease are another common problem for orthodontic patients, and it’s not all that surprising – flossing is enough of a pain without braces! Once you add them to the mix it can be downright impossible to keep those spaces between your teeth clean.
Oral bacteria loves to find spots in your mouth that are hard to reach – with any luck you won’t keep those clean, allowing it to eat and spread without you stopping it. Bacteria only needs 24 hours to start irritating your gums, and not much longer after that to start getting beneath them. Thus begins a lifelong struggle with gum disease.
There’s no reason that you have to let oral bacteria cause gum disease, though. With proper care you can easily fight it off and ensure that your smile comes out of your braces looking beautiful and healthy.
How To Keep Your Oral Health While Wearing Braces
When it comes down to it, most every problem in the dental world is due to bacteria. And, like all other forms of preventive dentistry, good oral health comes down to staying on top of your dental plaque each and every day. With braces it’s even more imperative that you practice good home care habits, but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you have the right tools and know-how.
- You can use your typical toothbrush for cleaning your teeth and gums, just be sure you take extra time to scrub the gumline and the sides of your brackets. If you’re worried that you aren’t keeping those tight spaces clean enough there are two different tools you can use: a sulcabrush (a small-headed toothbrush), or an interdental brush (these look like pipe cleaners on a handle).
- To floss, simply thread the end of your floss up through the space between your wire and your teeth. From there you can pull it into place from behind. If you don’t want to practice this method you can also use pre-threaded flossers. Many of them have heads small enough to fit between your braces and teeth – just be extremely careful when using them.
As Always, We’re Here To Help!
We don’t want any of our patients to face life after braces with anything but a great new smile. When you’re at one of our northern Indiana offices we’ll ensure your teeth are healthy, but the rest of the time it’s up to you!
If you have questions about your oral health while wearing braces, or want to find out what we can do to straighten your smile, give us a call today! You can reach any of our locations by calling 219-809-6584 or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you!