Braces are the number one way to straighten teeth for a reason – they work. Getting proper teeth movement and positioning can take a while, but the results are great and they last for life. Just ask anyone who’s had braces in the past – they’re going to tell you they’re glad they did!
But what about oral health while undergoing orthodontic treatment? Is there a reason to be worried about the health of your teeth and gums during that two-year phase? At Edgewood Dental Care we’ve seen more than a few cases of gum disease and tooth decay as a result of poor oral hygiene while wearing braces. We do everything we can to keep our patients healthy while they’re undergoing treatment, but it’s ultimately up to you – the person wearing them – to make sure your teeth are healthy when the braces come off.
How Braces Affect Your Oral Health
The last thing you want to add to your healthy smile is a bunch of oral health complications. Taking care of your teeth is undoubtedly harder when you’re wearing braces, but it’s definitely not impossible to come out of treatment with a straight and healthy smile.
If the risks of oral health complications are due to poor home care then the solution is simple: be better about caring for your teeth. Both gum disease and cavities are common side effects of wearing braces, and that’s what we want to tackle today.
Braces And Cavities: They Definitely Go Together
Brackets and wires are nothing but trouble when it comes to keeping your teeth clean. All those extra corners, tight spots, and masses of metal are breeding grounds for oral bacteria, and it doesn’t take much for plaque on your braces to start causing problems.
One of the more common tooth decay signs to come out of braces are demineralized spots. In many a patient the braces come off only to leave a chalky white outline where the brackets used to be, which is the first sign of tooth decay.
As plaque bacteria produces acids from sugars in the foods you eat it erodes your enamel. The earliest sign of that erosion is lighter spots that appear less shiny than the rest of the tooth. If you end up with demineralized spots on your teeth we can restore them with an aggressive fluoride treatment, but the better way to handle it is to not end up having to worry about demineralization at all!
Keeping your teeth healthy when wearing braces requires a bit more care than just brushing like you used to. You have to make extra sure you’re keeping your brackets clean as well. If you have trouble getting your toothbrush to hit the sides of the brackets behind the wire we recommend using either a sulcabrush (a small headed toothbrush) or an interdental brush (looks like a pipe cleaner). Both of those devices can go a long way toward keeping the hard-to-reach spots on your teeth clean.
Gum Disease: It Ruins Great Smiles
One of the first oral hygiene habits to suffer in the face of orthodontic treatment is flossing. Most of us don’t like to do it even when we don’t have braces, and when they’re added to the mix it becomes a convenient excuse to not floss.
The space between your teeth is some of the most sensitive in your mouth because it’s such a good place for oral bacteria to hide. After only 24 hours of constant contact you can end up with minor gum irritation that could lead to gum disease; so when’s the last time you flossed?
If you’re having trouble flossing while wearing braces there are a few ways you can get around it. You can always thread the floss through your braces first, or alternatively you can use a pre-threaded disposable flosser (you can buy them by the hundreds at most drugstores). If you find yourself truly hating to floss while wearing braces you can also use a water flosser, but keep in mind that those don’t provide the necessary gum stimulation to truly keep your smile healthy.
Don’t Let Braces Be A Bad Thing
Like we mentioned above, it’s the goal of every member of our Edgewood dental team to ensure you finish treatment with a healthy smile. You’ll be getting regular exams at our office during treatment, but between appointments it’s up to you.
If you have questions about keeping your teeth healthy while wearing braces or simply want to find out which orthodontic option is best for you give us a call today at 859-474-7830. If you want you can also simply request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you!