Oral Care Tips
Congratulations on getting started with your orthodontic treatment! Our office is dedicated to giving you your best smile and bite possible! However, we cannot reach all of our treatment goals without your help. Paying attention to the below instructions will help us give you a beautiful smile and a healthy bite. Remember; while you are in treatment continue to see your family dentist for scheduled cleanings and checkups.
To prevent damage to your teeth during your treatment, thorough oral hygiene is imperative. Poor or mediocre care of your teeth can and probably will cause permanent damage to your teeth. Don’t let this happen! Develop a pattern of brushing that covers all the surfaces of all your teeth. Brush the entire surface of each tooth, using an oval or circular motion with your toothbrush. Tilt it, and brush slowly around the braces where plaque and debris accumulate. Concentrate on the area between the braces and your gums; focus on spots with hooks and attachments because plaque and food particles accumulate there. Brush the chewing or biting surfaces of your teeth and the inside surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget your tongue! Your teeth and appliances should shine after each brushing. Brush after each meal or snack, and at bedtime. Floss between the teeth at least once a day, and use a fluoride rinse at night. You can always swish water between your teeth when you have the chance as well, the added benefit is substantial.
There is a special kind of brush used for hard-to-reach spaces around your braces, called a proxabrush. Place the proxabrush under the archwire and gently clean around the attachments and under the wire. If there is space, gently push the brush between the teeth with a rotating motion. Don’t force it! But try and do this between all your teeth if you can.
Water piks are used to remove large food particles. Remember to direct the stream of water away from the gum tissue.
For areas between the teeth, flossing is important to prevent cavities, infected or swollen gum tissue, and permanent white spots on your teeth. The key to flossing is to get the floss under the archwire. Use a floss threader, or a type of floss with a stiff end to make it easier to place between your teeth. Plain floss can be used if the gum tissue between your teeth is not in the way. When using floss, place it under the archwire, and wrap it around one side of the tooth in the form of a C. Move the floss up and down gently, making sure it goes under the gum tissue. Then, do the side of the adjacent tooth and remove the floss. Repeat the process between the next two teeth, and continue around the arch until you have cleaned the sides of all your teeth. This takes a bit of time but it will prevent certain diseases and possibly shorten your treatment time! Flossing should be done once a day, usually at night after your last snack and before bedtime. The more often, the better!
Plaque indicating gel (disclosing tablets) can help you to identify areas that are not brushed adequately. After brushing thoroughly, chew one tablet, swish, and spit. The tablet will stain any plaque that remains on your teeth, making it visible. You can also use an indicating gel, simply by brushing it on your teeth. Indicating gel is preferred since it will not stain your lips or gums. Both of these methods will help you focus your tooth brushing on areas you missed, or spots that are more prone to dental disease. The stain left is easily removed by re-brushing the areas you have missed.
Clear Elastic Ties
Patients with clear elastic ties should avoid excessive amounts of coffee, tea, mustard, red wine, or curry. These foods can stain the ties that secure your archwires. Smoking is advised against as well.
Braces Parts List
There are several basic components that are common to most orthodontic systems. Acting together, they deliver the forces to efficiently straighten your teeth.
Brackets are the individual attachments that are bonded to each tooth. They can be metal or tooth-colored material and help to hold the archwire against each tooth.
Bands are metal rings with special attachments, usually placed around the back teeth. The bands are selected from a range of sizes in order to find the best fitting band. They are sealed into position using dental cement that contains fluoride to prevent any decalcification during treatment.
Archwires are the main wires which are shaped specifically to fit around the arch into the bracket slots. The archwire is engaged in each bracket and band and delivers the force that moves the teeth.
Elastic ties (o-rings) are tiny rubber rings used to hold the archwires into the brackets.
Ligature wires are stronger attachments also used to hold the archwire in place.
Power chains are used to link teeth together and close space.
Hooks are small attachments on the brackets used to attach elastics or springs. An elastic band is often used to help adjust the bite, placed by the patient and worn until the doctor sees fit.
Coil springs fit between brackets and over the archwire.
Metal or rubber separates or spacers are only used before your banding appointment in order to create slight spaces between the teeth. This makes it easier to place the metal bands around your back teeth. Avoid these spaces when flossing and if the spacer should come out; call the office to have it replaced.
Certain foods must be avoided or changed in order to avoid damage to your braces. This can help save unwanted costs for repairs and delays in your treatment time. Remember to brush your teeth or at least rinse with water after eating or drinking anything sugary! Cut apples and carrots into bite-size pieces, corn off the cob, and meat off the bone before eating.
- No gum or sticky foods (caramel, licorice, starburst)
- No hard foods (nuts, hard candy, pretzels, chips)
- Minimize sugar intake (avoid cookies, candy, soda)
Habits that can be harmful to your appliances include: chewing on ice, pens, or pencils or picking at your braces. These can knock bands/brackets loose and bend/destroy the archwire. This can result in your teeth moving in the wrong direction and increasing your treatment time! Do not play with your braces!
If you have to wear headgear, do not engage in athletic activity or horseplay when it is in place.
Mouthguards that fit over your braces should be worn while participating in any contact sport. Your orthodontist can provide these protective devices or tell you where to purchase them.
A bracket or band can become displaced and is usually because of eating or chewing the wrong foods. This is not an emergency unless discomfort is involved. However, you should call the office as soon as possible during office hours to schedule an appointment to replace the damaged band or bracket.
It is not unusual to experience some soreness or discomfort after an appointment, this usually only lasts 1-4 days. Over-the-counter acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers will help to alleviate this discomfort. Warm salt water rinses are also helpful to reduce swelling of the gums or cheeks.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions about the best way to clean your retainers. Use a toothbrush with water.
When a person’s teeth or jaw structure do not fit together properly, orthodontic treatment may be necessary for them in order to straighten teeth and promote ideal function. These problems, are referred to as malocclusions (or bad bites) and can cause speech difficulty, premature wear of the teeth, and even increase the chance of injury to teeth.
In an underbite, the lower jaw extends out, causing the lower front teeth to sit in front of the upper front teeth.
Spacing problems may be caused by missing or small teeth.
The appearance and function of your teeth are impacted by upper front teeth protrusion. It is characterized by the upper teeth extending too far forward or the lower teeth not extending far enough forward.
Crowding occurs when teeth have insufficient room to erupt from the gum. Crowding can often be corrected by expansion, and/or tooth removal.
In a crossbite, the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, which may cause tooth wear and contribute to poor jaw growth.
In an overbite, the upper front teeth extend vertically over the lower front teeth, sometimes causing the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.
Proper chewing is impacted by an openbite, in which the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. Openbites may be caused by habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting or by skeletal disharmony of the jaws.
Dental midlines that do not match are evident when the back bite does not fit and match appropriately. This may negatively impact the jaw and proper dental function.