When you get braces, one of the most important things you need to do is properly care for your teeth. Brushing and flossing while wearing brackets and wires is much more challenging, but still essential to your oral health. You also have to use caution in what you eat and drink to avoid putting too much strain on the wires.
First, when you brush your teeth, make sure you are brushing all three surfaces. These are the outside of the tooth, the inside, and the bottom where you chew your food. Brushing the outside of your tooth is the most challenging. Try to get your toothbrush between your brackets and your gums by using a 45-degree angle. Then, brush the teeth underneath the brackets as well. This means you will brush the front of your teeth two separate times. Brushing the inside and the chewing side is not as difficult, but you need to be thorough.
Flossing, however, is very challenging while wearing braces, and many people skip it because it’s difficult. However, doing so puts you at risk for several serious oral conditions. To floss your teeth, you must weave the dental floss between the brackets and underneath the wire. Then, floss as you normally would.
Next, you need to avoid foods that could pull off the brackets. While they are strongly attached to your teeth, the bond is not permanent, because you will eventually have them removed. So, overly sticky or hard foods can cause your braces to break off of your teeth or bend the wires. Foods to avoid include taffy, caramels, hard candies, ice, gum, hard chips, corn on the cob, meat on the bone, crunchy fruits or vegetables that are not cut, and non-food items like pens or pencils that you might be tempted to chew on.
Sometimes, braces will be damaged no matter how careful you are. This is rarely an emergency, but you should see your orthodontist as soon as you can get a reasonable appointment to repair the problem. If a wire comes loose or breaks, clip it or use wax to keep your mouth comfortable until you can see the dentist. For other problems, give your dental office a call to see what you can do to fix it at home or if you need to come in. Some problems that you should not try to fix yourself include a loose expander, tie that comes off, or a broken brace.
If you do something that causes damage to your braces, do not avoid the call to the orthodontist. Sometimes patients want to ignore the fact that they didn’t follow the dentist’s orders. While you may feel embarrassed that your mistake caused the problem, avoiding telling your dentist will lead to further problems with your teeth, or cause you to have to wear the appliances longer. It is far better to fess up and have the problem corrected than extend your time with a mouth full of metal.