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At Goodman Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a smile they’re proud to show off, and we’re committed to helping our patients achieve one through convenient, high-quality orthodontic treatment. Whether through braces, Invisalign, or any other treatment we offer, we strive to customize our orthodontic treatment plans to suit the unique lifestyles of our patients – but in addition to the treatment we provide in the office, at-home oral hygiene is absolutely vital to successful treatment.
While you’re wearing braces, oral hygiene becomes extra important. The brackets, wires, and bands of your braces provide the perfect hiding places for food particles and bacteria, and if left alone, these can accumulate and cause dental decay and cavities. Regular brushing and flossing is the only way to prevent the buildup of bacteria and protect your teeth from decay.
While you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to bolster your brushing schedule a bit. We recommend brushing at least four times per day to prevent the buildup of bacteria:
For the best protection, though, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth after you eat any meal or snack.
While you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to devote a little extra time and patience to flossing – but it’s vitally important that you do so. Daily flossing is critical to ensuring your teeth and gums stay clean and healthy. Our advice is to floss once per day, right before you go to bed.
To floss with braces, you’ll need regular dental floss and a device called a floss threader, which is essentially a small plastic loop with a pointed end. Thread your floss through the loop of the floss threader, then stick the pointed end underneath your archwire and pull it through. This puts the floss underneath the archwire, and from there you can floss that tooth normally. Now, simply repeat the process for every gap between the teeth – just be careful not to floss with too much force.
To further clean the teeth and control bacterial populations, we recommend using an antibacterial mouthwash on a daily basis. The simplest, cheapest way is with a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic rinse. To do this, simply mix two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with two teaspoons of water, then swirl it around your mouth for about 60 seconds. You can do this up to four times a day after you brush. The hydrogen peroxide helps to kill harmful bacteria and keep your mouth clean, both protecting teeth from decay and helping any small cuts and scrapes in your mouth heal. Hydrogen peroxide is also great for calming down canker sores, promoting healing of cheek bites, and soothing general irritation in the mouth.
Another great tool to use when cleaning your teeth is an interdental toothbrush, also called a proxabrush. This is a small, pipe cleaner-shaped brush that’s used to dislodge food from braces and clean underneath your archwire. Interdental brushes are small, so they’re also great to carry around with you for cleaning on the go.
Another recommended practice is daily use of a sodium fluoride gel. These gels reinvigorate the teeth by replacing minerals that may be leached away by harmful acids in the mouth. Fluoride gel is no substitute for regular oral hygiene, but it’s an excellent supplement, especially while you’re wearing braces. To use the gel, simply place a small strip on your toothbrush, then apply it to the teeth for one minute. Spit the gel out of your mouth after a minute, but avoid eating or drinking anything for 30 minutes afterwards. This gives the fluoride time to sink into teeth and ensures you get the most out of the gel. We recommend using fluoride gel once per day, before you go to bed.
After you finish with braces, you’ll need to wear a retainer – and keeping it clean is another important part of treatment. Thankfully, cleaning a removable appliance is easy. All you need to do is brush it with a toothbrush, just as you do your teeth, every time you take it out. In addition, periodically soaking it in a glass of tap water with a denture cleaning tablet is a good practice for giving it a deeper clean.
Whether you’re getting Invisalign, metal braces, or any other form of orthodontic treatment, oral hygiene is critical to the success of your new smile. If you have more questions about oral hygiene or are interested in improving your own smile, we’d love to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment and schedule a consultation with us. We look forward to hearing from you!