A common misconception is that braces causes cavities. But in reality, it’s not the braces – it’s the lack of cleaning thoroughly around the brackets (and every side of each tooth) that causes the cavities to form.
Basically, it comes down to the bacteria in your mouth feed off the stuff left behind on your teeth. This creates an environment where acid and other harmful stuff is produced and left in contact with your teeth for long-periods of time when you consistently miss cleaning the same areas. Over time, this can lead to a little white spot forming on these areas of your teeth.
So what’s the best way to ensure a healthy mouth during your treatment? Here are some of the most common questions we get about brushing your teeth with braces.
When cleaning your teeth, it all comes down to being thorough every time you brush. And that means brushing around your brackets, not just over them.
Each bracket is a little square with four surfaces, and you have to figure out how to make your toothbrush reach all of those difference surfaces. You may need some different tools you to make it easier for you to get in there and brush away the plaque. A good way to practice doing this is to brush, visually look at all the areas around your braces in the mirror, then brush again to clean up any areas you may have missed.
You’ve probably noticed that flossing with your braces on is much more time-consuming, so it seems like it’s just too hard and you skip it altogether. You can still floss, but the technique is different. You have to thread the floss under the wire in order to get between the teeth.
We know most people don’t have the time or patience to sit around threading floss. A great alternative is to use a Waterpik Water Flosser, which essentially power washes between your teeth. And it’s not just for braces, so you can continue using it long after your braces come off. (It’s a great long-term investment in your dental care and it can be shared by the whole family by changing out the tips.)
With all cleaning techniques, the key is to make sure you’re aiming at the areas that are difficult to clean. For example, let’s say you’re using a power washer to clean your car. You’ll likely spend time power washing the bottom of your car a little more than the top because that’s where most of the must is located. And the same goes for your teeth: you want to focus on the trouble areas around your braces, such as between the braces and along the gums.
You can certainly use mouthwash if you want to, but remember that it isn’t a substitute for brushing and flossing. It’s a supplemental way to encourage good oral hygiene.
Mouth rinses don’t clean plaque off your teeth or wipe away chewed up food – you need the bristles of your toothbrush to do this. The mouthwash can make your mouth feel clean and help get rid of bacteria, but you can never really sterilize your mouth (even though it feel that way when rinsing!)
If you’re struggling to keep your teeth clean, it’s not because you’re using the wrong brand of toothbrush. What’s important is making sure you get the bristles onto your teeth. If you focus on that first, the brand of toothbrush is won’t matter.
Say you miss the same area along your teeth every day for six months, so it’s not getting cleaned. This is the equivalent of never having brushed that particular area. Instead of focusing on the best brand of toothbrush, be more aware of how you’re brushing your teeth because technically any toothbrush will work as long as you’re getting to all the areas every time you brush.
Lots of patients worry that using an electric toothbrush will make their braces come off. But using them is beneficial because its vibration takes care of the most of the movement, which means you can focus more on placement of the bristles and the areas you want to clean
Have questions about how to brush your teeth with your braces on? If you’re an existing patient, you can email Dr. Wisanu Charoenkul or give our office a call at 425-747-9210.