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Getting orthodontic braces means you’re well on your way to straight, beautiful teeth. However, this means that your oral hygiene is more important than ever. According to the NIDCR, 26% of adults have untreated tooth decay.

Braces threaten to make this percentage higher because the wires and brackets make it an ideal place for food particles to be trapped. Without proper oral hygiene, these food particles will gather bacteria, leading to cavities and gum disease.

Read on to learn our six top hygiene tips to improve your oral health while you have braces!

1. Use the Right Tools

You’ll find that brushing and flossing your teeth with braces is harder because of the brackets and wires blocking your normal path. For this reason, we recommend asking your orthodontist about the best tools to use for oral hygiene.

For instance, many people find that water picks are a great supplement to flossing your teeth because the strong water flow can blast away the areas that you missed.

Water picks shouldn’t be a replacement for normal flossing, so your orthodontist can give you a floss threader. This allows you to easily thread the floss through your wires so that you’ll have an easier time flossing. Inter-dental brushes are also a great addition to your routine, as they allow you to brush around your brackets and underneath wires.

Floss threaders, orthodontic wax for braces, and inter-dental brushes may all be found in your orthodontic kit for braces.

2. Brush Your Teeth More Often

You’ll find that new orthodontic braces mean that you’ll be combatting food getting stuck beneath the wires and around your brackets. For this reason, we recommend brushing your teeth after you eat. If you don’t want to carry around a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, swish your mouth out with water and floss!

You’ll find that will teeth will feel better at the end of the day, your mouth will be fresher, and you’ll be less likely to develop cavities.

3. Be Gentle

Many people find that they feel the need to be rougher on their teeth and gums once they get braces. The reason for this may be because they’re trying to compensate for the new areas that are harder to reach. However, it’s important to keep using a gentle touch.

You may find that your gums are already swollen and puffy because your teeth are moving. For this reason, gently floss your teeth by “hugging” the floss around each tooth on either side and sliding it up and down. Jamming the floss straight down into your gums will cause more damage and discomfort.

4. Avoid Certain Foods

Unfortunately, you’ll need to avoid certain foods with braces. Eating these foods gives you a higher chance that you’ll break a bracket.

Sticky foods such as candy or gum will also make it hard to clean out of your braces at the end of the day, upping the chances that you can develop cavities. Tooth decay is also a large result of sugary foods and beverages like soda.

Here are some of the foods you should avoid:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • Ice
  • Chips
  • Pretzels

You can eat raw vegetables, but it’s important that you cut them into smaller pieces. This will lessen the chance that you bite into them hard and break a bracket.

One of the reasons why teenagers and adults are the best age for orthodontic braces is that they’re better able to pay attention to the food and cleaning requirements!

5. Check Your Teeth

Although these cleaning tips seem like a lot, you’ll find that after a week or two they’ll be another old habit. However, it’s important to remember not to fly through your cleaning routine–take time to check your teeth and braces in the mirror afterward! This is recommended because you may be able to spot wires that are kinked or misaligned or brackets that seem loose.

You’ll also be able to spot-check your teeth to make sure that you haven’t missed any food particles that are still stuck in-between your teeth or around your brackets. The more you check, the less likely you are to miss those spots in the future.

6. Don’t Skip Appointments

Even months after you have braces, it’s important that you not skip any of your orthodontic appointments. They’ll be regularly adjusting your appliance in order to straighten your teeth over time. If you notice any extreme pain that doesn’t go away in time, it’s important to contact your orthodontist as soon as you can.

During this time, it’s also important to keep going to your general dentist appointments. They’ll be able to give you cleanings and fluoride treatments that will give you extra protection against cavities. They’ll also be able to check your teeth in order to spot any early signs of cavities or gum disease.

The earlier they spot any signs, the easier it will be to treat them!

Pay Attention to Oral Hygiene With Orthodontic Braces

When you get your orthodontic braces, it’s important that you focus on attending each of your appointments as well as your oral hygiene. Ignoring your oral hygiene means that you’ll be at a greater risk of cavities and gum disease due to the trapped food.

Use tools such as water picks and floss threaders in order to make it easier for you. You’ll also want to avoid sticky foods such as gum and sticky candy that will make it harder to remove the particles from around your teeth.

Last but not least, don’t forget your appointments with your general dentist! They’ll be able to give fluoride treatments that provide extra protection against cavities.

Ready for your perfect smile today in Charlotte, NC? Contact us today for your free consultation!