There is a really good reason braces have been around for so long: they work great! Whether you’re an adult wanting braces or a parent who wants to straighten their child’s smile you can expect to see amazing results over the course of treatment.
But braces aren’t all sunshine and roses. Without good oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment, you can end up with serious complications. We don’t want any single one of our Panama City dental patients to have to deal with unpleasant effects from their braces – we just want to see great new smiles!
Braces And Oral Health: Not Always Compatible
Cementing metal brackets connected to a wire isn’t exactly the best way to ensure easy access to your teeth for the purposes of oral hygiene, is it? It’s true, braces can make caring for your teeth and gums tough. That’s where a whole bunch of special products come in, but we’ll get to those later.
First, we want to talk about what can go wrong when you spend two years in braces. There’s a lot of potential risks for your smile when straightening it! Don’t worry, though – we’ll do everything we can to make sure you look and feel your best when those braces come off.
Your teeth are covered with a layer of enamel that protects them from the effects of oral bacteria and the acids they create. When part of that layer is eroded away we call it demineralization. It’s a slow process, but in the end, you’ll be left with cavities which form when all your enamel is worn away.
You may have seen someone with white, chalky-looking spots on their teeth before, or maybe you have some. Those are demineralized spots that are in the early stages of cavity formation. It’s quite common for those spots to happen around the edges of braces brackets, leaving patients with a big white square in the middle of their teeth!
Let’s face it – cleaning your mouth when wearing braces isn’t a walk in the park. It’s hard to get around those brackets and wires to perform essential things like brushing and flossing! One of the major side effects of insufficient oral hygiene while wearing braces is gingivitis and gum disease.
Gum disease starts as gingivitis, which primarily shows as puffy, red, and bleeding gums. As it progresses you can end up with gum recession, infection, and even tooth loss. A braces patient won’t get to that point during treatment, but a bad sequence of events can get started during treatment!
Developing sensitive teeth is a common complaint among braces patients, and not because of the pain that comes with moving teeth. Gum disease, along with the mild stress that braces place on your gums, can combine to cause gum recession that leads to bad reactions to hot and cold.
The roots of your teeth aren’t protected by enamel in the same way that your crowns are, so they’re far more susceptible to sensitivity and eventual decay.
What You Can Do To Stay Healthy
A healthy set of teeth and gums doesn’t need to be hard to manage when you have braces. You’ll need to make some changes to your oral hygiene routine, but trust us: they’re for your health!
- Instead of brushing twice a day step your routine up to after every meal. Make sure you’re waiting at least 30 minutes after you eat – brushing before they can damage your teeth due to softened enamel.
- Floss every night! There are special kinds of floss and floss threaders that can make flossing with braces easier but don’t neglect it during your treatment. The space between your teeth is some of the most vulnerable to decay and gum disease!
- Use a sulca brush or other small tool to clean between the wires and teeth. This also helps you get the sides of your brackets, which don’t always get clean enough with a regular brush.
- Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste while you’re wearing braces. Fluoride helps remineralize teeth and can help prevent demineralization squares after your braces come off.
Need More Hygiene Advice?
Keeping your teeth healthy doesn’t have to be a challenge, even when braces are part of the mix. As always, our team at Panama City Smiles is more than happy to help you by answering any orthodontic maintenance questions you have!