Orthodontic treatment dramatically transforms a person’s smile. Throughout a patient’s treatment, their teeth and gums are undergoing major changes. Proper oral hygiene is always important to maintain a clean smile, prevent tooth decay, and maintain healthy gums. Whether you have braces or clear aligners, it is essential to give your teeth a little extra attention during this time to ensure your smile is beautiful and healthy when your treatment is complete.
Braces are great at straightening teeth, but the brackets and wires also create ideal spots for bacteria to hide. If you look in the mirror after eating a meal with braces, you will likely notice that more food gets caught in your teeth than usual. No one wants to see what you ate for lunch hanging around your brackets hours later. But more importantly, when food sits on the teeth for an extended period, it demineralizes the enamel surrounding the brackets. Not only does this put you at a higher risk for cavities, but it can cause bracket stains on your teeth when the hardware comes off.
It is wise to clean your teeth about a half-hour after each meal. This is pretty easy for meals at home, but you may have to do some preparation if you plan on eating elsewhere. Pack some floss, mouthwash, or a toothbrush in your bag so you can give your braces a quick clean when on the go. Alternatively, you can swish some water in your mouth to wash away excess food particles when you don’t have the proper cleaning tools on hand.
If you have clear aligners, it is crucial to keep both them and your mouth clean to maintain a healthy smile throughout treatment. It may be tempting to pop your aligners back in your mouth right after a meal. However, bacteria can get trapped inside your clear aligner and eat away at your enamel. Dirty aligners also have a potent stench, which can contribute to bad breath. It is a wise practice to brush both your teeth and your aligners before every time you put them back on your teeth.
Poor oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment can result in staining, tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease, and excellent oral hygiene can reverse this condition. However, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease when not addressed promptly, which is irreversible.
No matter what type of orthodontic treatment you receive, it is essential to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Don’t forget to visit your general dentist every six months during your orthodontic treatment for regular cleanings and exams. Maintaining a healthy mouth during your treatment will ensure your smile is dazzling when your treatment is complete.