Braces themselves don’t cause stains, but insufficient teeth cleaning while wearing braces can lead to stains on the enamel or even tooth decay.1 It is important to take steps before you stop wearing braces to continue keeping your teeth in good condition as the braces do their work of improving your smile.
Here are five ways to keep your teeth clean and healthy if you have braces.
When to brush with braces
There are a few important times to clean your braces; namely, it’s best to brush your teeth after every meal. Sometimes, however, it’s impractical to brush that often. You may be at work, for instance, or at lunch with friends. There may not be a good place to brush or you may not have a toothbrush with you.
If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, rinse your mouth out with water immediately after eating to remove particles, sugars, and starch that could lead to plaque buildup. If you do decide to brush, a good route to go is to brush at least four times per day if you are wearing braces—after breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed.
How to brush your teeth with braces
The right kind of toothbrush can help you brush effectively with braces. Orthodontists recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush or power toothbrush for brushing teeth with braces. It is important to brush thoroughly including:
- Around all parts of the brackets
- Each side of every tooth
- Along the gumline, tongue, and roof of your mouth
Brush gently but thoroughly for a full two minutes. A good way to make sure you brush long enough is to play a song in the background, as most are roughly that length of time.
Brushing your teeth four times per day and brushing around brackets might make your toothbrush wear out faster. Most people change their toothbrush every three months, but if you are using it more often due to braces, be sure to replace it when the bristles start to fray.
Remember to floss with braces
Flossing is a challenge with braces, but it’s especially important to floss at least once a day2 to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth. A water flosser, also referred to as an oral irrigator, can also be just as effective as traditional floss.
You can also use a reusable floss threader with normal dental floss. Remember to rinse your mouth out with water after flossing; however, if you are using a water flosser, this may not be necessary.
Follow a tooth-friendly diet
Acidic foods and drinks, like soft drinks, oranges, and vinaigrette dressings can damage tooth enamel. Sugary foods and drinks can increase the chances of developing cavities or even lead to tooth decay. Foods full of starch, like potato chips, can stick to teeth for long periods of time causing tooth decay.
With all of these foods contributing to plaque buildup and, ultimately, tooth decay, it can seem as though there are no foods that can help combat problems. However, some foods are shown to be good for you and also help your teeth. Surprisingly, cheese is a food that helps balance the pH in your mouth and reduce the acidity that can lead to tooth decay.
It’s extra important to be aware of foods that could damage enamel or lead to tooth decay if you have braces so you don’t have stains on your teeth when your braces come off.
Make your dental care a regular habit
It’s important to keep your entire mouth healthy so that when your braces come off, your straight smile will last a lifetime. Proper dental care with braces includes:
- Brushing at least four times per day
- Flossing at least once each day
- Using specifically designed dental tools to keep braces clean
- Keeping a healthy diet.
All these steps will ensure that your teeth look perfect when your braces come off.
Also, remember to keep your dental insurance up to date and visit your dentist every six months. Dental care is always essential, but even more important when you have braces.