How to Care Maintain Your Smile
Dr. Szymanowski is known for creating beautiful smiles in Sacramento. Here are our tips to take care of your braces and maintain your smile.
Doing Your Part
You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces.
The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is by brushing and flossing properly. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, these turn into plaque.
If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it will leave a permanent white scar on the surface of your teeth. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth.
To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will have the best possible result.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line.
Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces, and the surface of each tooth.
It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire.
Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque.
Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth.
Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.
A hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse helps reduce inflammation on your cheeks and gum tissue.
It helps your tissues heal while you have braces. Saltwater rinses are another mouth rinse that can help reduce inflammation and irritation of your gum tissues.
An interdental toothbrush is a helpful tool to clean underneath the wire and the braces.
Cleaning Your Retainers
Cleaning your retainers after braces have been removed should be part of your daily routine to prevent bacteria and plaque from accumulating on your retainer.
To clean your retainers, dissolve a denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature, and soak your appliance once a day.
Prevent Gum Disease
Early gum disease is reversible with professional help and good home care, but if you ignore it, it can get worse.
Gum disease is usually painless, so you need to pay attention to signs like bleeding or swollen and puffy gums. To avoid these problems, follow the hygiene directions from Dr. Szymanowski and our team!
Problems Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment.
Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces.
The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to white marks, cavities or gum disease.
- If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Lines and spots from decalcification will remain on your teeth for life.
- Periodontal disease, caused by the buildup of plaque, occurs in three stages. In the first stage, plaque accumulation irritates the gums. Your gums may be puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss. This is called gingivitis.
- Over time, the buildup of plaque may harden into a substance called tartar. As tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. Even more tartar can collect in these pockets. This is called periodontitis.
- Pockets of bacteria form and deepen beneath your gums, attacking and destroying the bone that anchors your teeth. This can even cause healthy teeth to loosen or eventually fall out. This is called advanced periodontitis.