Guest Blog: Oral Hygiene and Orthodontics

Sunday 12 January 2020


It’s essential to take care of your teeth for a myriad of reasons, but when you’re under orthodontic treatment, it is even more important to be vigilant when it comes to your teeth. Your braces or aligners (also called orthodontic appliances) realign your teeth or correct your bite, but they can also catch food, which increases plaque production. If there’s one enemy of a healthy mouth, it’s plaque.

When food catches in your braces or aligners, plaque is produced on the surface of your teeth. Plaque is made up of biofilm – a thin scrim of microorganisms, organic material, and harmful bacteria. This bacterium consumes the caught food and produces acids in the digestion process that can be harmful to your teeth’s surfaces.

People who have been undergoing orthodontic treatment are even more susceptible to plaque build-up because food is caught more easily in the nooks and crannies of braces and aligners.

There are some ways to keep your teeth healthy and happy during your orthodontic treatment, including adjusting your diet, good daily oral hygiene, and regular visits to your dental team. Here are some ways you can safeguard your mouth and teeth against plaque and decay, even when you have braces.

Diet and Decay

The best way to avoid tooth decay, especially when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, is to watch what you put in your mouth. Avoid foods and liquids that encourage the production of plaque or can physically damage your teeth.

This means avoiding foods and drinks that have high amounts of sugar, such as ice cream, candy, and soda. Even small adjustments to your diet – substituting sweetener for sugar in your tea, for example – can make a difference over the long-term.

Another threat to your teeth and your orthodontic work is exceptionally hard or sticky foods. This category may slip under the radar, but sticky foods like toffee or caramels, hard foods like nuts and hard sweets, or chewy foods like beef jerky can damage your orthodontic work through wear and tear.

However, some hard foods are essential to good health. Don't avoid nutritious foods just because they are hard. Cut up foods like apples and carrots into small pieces before eating them.

Avoid biting your nails while you have orthodontic braces. Hard foods and hard biting can damage the brackets and wires.

Taking sugary, hard, or chewy foods and drinks in moderate amounts is essential at any stage of your life, but when you have braces or aligners, it’s crucial. You do not want to report back to your orthodontist that you’ve damaged your braces and your teeth because you’ve been snacking on too many toffees.

Daily Maintenance

Flossing and brushing are essential for anyone who wants to have a healthy mouth, but this can be laborious if you have a mouth full of orthodontic appliances. Getting a brush or your floss around all the brackets and wires can be challenging. Luckily, there are some tools and tips to get around these challenges.

A soft toothbrush is very helpful in cleaning a mouth with orthodontic appliances. There are also bi-level toothbrushes with bristles of varying length, usually longer on the outsides and shorter in the middle. Studies have shown that there is a slight decrease in plaque production in subjects who used bi-level brushes.

Fluoride treatments help boost your resistance to cavities. Supplemental antiseptic rinses are used to calm gum inflammation.

Professional Care

While you visit your orthodontist to get your braces or aligners adjusted, you should also schedule a follow-up visit to talk specifically about oral hygiene. Studies have shown that visiting your orthodontist soon after a procedure increases your oral health and hygiene.

In addition to regular visits to your orthodontist, you should also visit your dentist. Orthodontists work on your alignment and bite, whereas your regular dentist monitors your gums and teeth. When you are under orthodontic treatment, it’s more important than ever to keep up with your dental visits.

With an excellent oral health team made up of your orthodontist, dentist, and, most importantly, you, your mouth will continue to be healthy long after the braces are off. That’s something to smile about.

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.