Life Hack: Caring for Teeth with Braces
It’s no secret that orthodontic treatment can be a major investment. Even if your insurance plan covers them partially, there is often a lifetime max that may or may not allow you to treat other members of the family later. Suffice it to say, when you get braces, it’s in your own best interest to take care of your teeth. After all, you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and then never change the oil, right? What’s the point of investing all that money in your teeth only to neglect caring for them while they’re being treated?
That being said, caring for teeth with braces can be extremely difficult. All those wires and brackets, expanders, rubber bands - even clear aligners have their own set of challenges. So how do you care for your teeth with all these obstacles in the way? Sure, there are tried-and-true methods, but they take time and can be difficult - and that’s just for adults. If you have teens or children with braces, you can pretty much guarantee they’re not taking care of their braces as carefully as they should be. If you’re doing the braces-cleaning labor for your kids, that’s great - but even guardians can use a helping hand, right?
Thankfully, there are some hacks that simplify care for your orthodontics. Try these methods for a faster - but no less effective - orthodontic cleaning experience.
Braces or not, flossing your teeth is an essential part of oral health care. After all, if you don’t floss your teeth you’re not cleaning about 40 percent of your tooth surface! As important as flossing is for teeth that aren’t in braces, it’s even more crucial for teeth with braces. That’s because with shifting teeth, food and plaque can easily get trapped in new places and can have a negative effect on treatment. After all, how can your teeth properly align if there’s a popcorn hull stuck between them? As important as it is, flossing teeth with braces can also be extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are a few hacks to make flossing much, much easier.
Waterpik / Water Flossers
Water flossers blast your teeth with a stream of pressurized water that can help rinse and loosen debris from between the teeth and brackets. We definitely recommend water flossers for anyone with braces; however, they aren’t enough to replace actual flossing. Water flossers work best to rinse the teeth or loosen debris, but they are generally not strong enough to thoroughly clean between all of your teeth.
Floss threaders are a wonderful invention that help you thread your regular floss behind your brackets so you can maneuver your floss all the way to the gum line. These handy little devices are very inexpensive and can be purchased on sites like Amazon if you can’t find them at your local store. For patients with braces and bridges, floss threaders are highly recommended and should be used daily during flossing. It may take a little more time than flossing without braces, but using threaders and regular floss is the most effective way to clean between the teeth during orthodontic treatment.
Using floss picks can be a very quick and convenient way to get debris stuck between teeth when you just need to clean between one or two teeth, but they’re not really practical for use between every single tooth. That’s because they have less than an inch of floss per pick – which means each pick should only be used between one tooth, one time. If you’re using picks between each tooth, that will use a lot of picks and can be extremely cost-prohibitive, never mind wasteful. Plus, most picks don’t fit around braces, making them completely ineffective.
The good news is there are flossers made specifically for patients with braces. They have a flat, narrow head that can easily fit under many wires if there is enough space between the wire and your teeth. While we don’t recommend using flossers for every single tooth, these flossers can be extremely useful at cleaning between the very hard-to-reach back teeth that may not be easily accessible with floss threaders due to their location.
Keep in Mind ...
• Make sure you’re also cleaning around the brackets and under the wires. Calcification spots and cavities can easily form where the bracket is glued to the teeth. You don’t want to invest all that money on braces only to need a dozen fillings or veneers after treatment!
• Make sure you are following Dr. Abelar’s orders regarding which foods to avoid during treatment. Some foods can not only damage wires and brackets, but also can be very difficult to clean.
• It may be useful to clean the teeth of younger children with orthodontics, and to frequently check in with your teens to make sure they are taking good care of their own teeth.
• Don’t forget to brush expanders and to clean off retainers either with denture soak, retainer soak or with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s or your own braces, please give Dr. Abelar a call at 858-866-9692.