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If you’ve already invested in orthodontic care, it shows how highly you regard your oral health. Keep the theme rolling by investing in the right products and tools to keep your braces in tip-top shape. That way, when it’s finally time to say goodbye to your metal wires, you’ll see the best results and the most beautiful smile.
Keeping your teeth clean becomes a bit more challenging after braces are introduced. The metal wires and brackets, bands, expanders, elastics, and springs make it especially difficult to maneuver a traditional toothbrush around and get a thorough cleaning. What makes it even more challenging is that the braces themselves also naturally attract more debris and allow it to collect. These collections of debris and plaque can be treated with at-home cleaning. You’ve just got to be incredibly thorough and invest in the right accessories for a guaranteed clean.
With a proper clean (thanks to some inventive products), you can still have teeth as bright, shiny, and healthy as anyone without braces.
Floss threaders look like small, stiff lassos. These allow you to thread normal floss through what would otherwise be hard-to-reach spaces like the gum line and between crowded teeth. These threaders can be a tad difficult to get the hang of at first, but once you get used to them you’ll find them invaluable in your cleaning routine.
To use, simply place a strand of normal floss between the loop. Then, insert the stiff end between your teeth right at the gum line. Pulling the threader through, you’ll be able to then use the floss like normal.
Interproximal brushes, also known as proxy brushes or “go-betweens,” are a great way to get in between brackets and thoroughly clean the fronts of teeth. What looks like a small, triangular-shaped pipe cleaner can be used to go in between braces and teeth to clean off plaque and food that has compiled. While a proxy brush won’t replace floss, it’s a great way to remove food from your braces on-the-go or clean the brackets themselves.
Pro tip: purchase a few different sizes of these. Smaller sizes work best for front teeth while larger options fit well around the back teeth.
Dental picks are another good way to remove food from your teeth when you’re not at home. They’re also a great precursor to your brushing and flossing routine. These pointed dental picks can make it easy to remove food from around your brackets, below the wire, or between teeth.
Unwaxed floss has a tendency to get caught on the brackets and shred while using with braces. This can end up causing the floss to get stuck in your teeth, creating more of a problem than pre-flossing. Instead, try using waxed floss for a smoother glide in between teeth and brackets. Paired with a floss threader, you’ll be able to get a thorough clean in all the tight spaces.
Regular toothbrushes can only do so much in a mouth that’s full of metal. If you have braces, we highly recommend investing in an electric or sonic toothbrush. Most have either a circulating or oscillating head that will help to reach all angles of debris. Electric and sonic toothbrushes handle the work of the head, so all you have to do is adjust the brush’s angle to appropriately clean blocked areas. While these are more expensive than a manual brush, the investment is worth it to protect your orthodontics.
A water flosser uses a strong level of water pressure to remove or dislodge debris that is stuck around the teeth. It doesn’t use regular floss at all. They work similarly to the water flosser the dental hygienist uses on patients during cleanings. They aren’t quite as powerful as the professional version, but they can still get the job done.
An air flosser is another tool that you’ve likely had used on you during a dental cleaning. The powerful surge of air pushes out food, plaque, and bacteria from where they were lodged. You may find this method or the above method to be more effective in food removal than a threader and waxed floss combined.
Using topical fluoride is always important for good oral health, but it becomes even more paramount when you have braces. Braces naturally make your teeth more difficult to clean, which means the risk for tooth decay increases. With a regular fluoride rinse, you can decrease this risk and protect your teeth from concentrated bacteria. You can find fluoride rinses near the mouthwash at the store, or you can ask your dentist for recommendations.
If you’ve decided against purchasing an electric or sonic toothbrush, you should at least consider the kind of manual toothbrush you are using. For example, certain models such as the Oral B Pro-Health Toothbrush include specialty features that make them great for braces. These include crisscrossed bristles, 16 degree angled bristles for better access, a tongue scraper, and bristles to stimulate the gums.
If you’re going to stick with a traditional toothbrush, features like this will go a long way.
Superfloss combines waxed floss and floss threaders into one. One one end is a pre-cut strand of floss while the other end features a plastic threader. In using super floss, you won’t have to thread any loop. This makes it easier to maneuver in and out. Superfloss also comes with a spongy section that is great to clean gaps and wider spaces in the mouth that normal floss can’t do much for.
Scheduling regular orthodontist and dentist check-ups while you have braces is paramount to a successful orthodontic procedure. A dentist will help keep your teeth clean and healthy while shifting and your orthodontist will monitor your progression to the smile of your dreams. Without proper professional care, it’s difficult to guarantee the outcome you’re hoping for.