At-Home Orthodontic Care
For patients who wear braces, oral hygiene is extremely important. Food and plaque can become stuck not only between the teeth, but between the small spaces where braces and wires attach. To maintain healthy teeth, and keep braces clean and breath fresh, the mouth should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, preferably after every meal. Dental hygiene at bedtime is essential.
Eating With Braces
Patients with braces can eat nourishing and enjoyable foods, but sweets, soda and other sugary foods should be avoided as much as possible. Particularly damaging are sticky and chewy foods, such as taffy, dried fruits and caramel, because they can adhere to braces, and be difficult to remove.
To keep braces from loosening or breaking, patients should avoid hard candies, nuts, popcorn and other inflexible foods. Crunchy fruits and vegetables should be cut into small pieces before eating, and ice should not be chewed.
Dental Hygiene With Braces
Removing food particles is particularly important for patients with braces. To avoid tooth decay and enamel stains, as well as the permanent light spots that can result from the reaction of bacteria with metal, teeth should be carefully brushed on all surfaces.
Special orthodontic floss should also be used at least once a day to clean the spaces between wires and braces. The patient should stand in front of a mirror to ensure that all areas have been flossed. Using anti-bacterial mouthwash is also helpful.
When performing a full cleaning after eating is impossible, rinsing the mouth vigorously with water is recommended.
Preventing Dental Injuries
Although everyone should make an effort to protect the teeth during potentially dangerous activities, it is especially necessary for those who wear braces. There is no reason to avoid participating in sports, but there is every reason to wear teeth-protecting mouth guards when doing so.
- Medline Plus
- National Institutes of Health
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine