Brushing and Flossing During Orthodontic Treatment
When you're wearing braces or undergoing orthodontic treatment with an appliance, you will want to pay special attention to your brushing and flossing habits. There are certain considerations that need to be kept in mind to make sure that you're still thoroughly cleaning the tooth surface, between teeth, and gum tissue. Gum disease and tooth decay are always a main concern.
When you're not wearing braces, you generally brush teeth twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. However, when you're wearing braces, you'll want to step it up a bit; food particles have more places to hide, and you'll want to make sure you're clearing debris regularly. Add a midday brushing, or brush your teeth when you get home from school.
When you're brushing, use a soft bristle brush. Use small, circular motions, and hold the brush at an angle, using an upward motion on the bottom teeth and a downward motion on lower teeth; this helps move plaque and bacteria away from the gums. Make sure to brush chewing surfaces, back sides of teeth, and tongue as well. If done properly, brushing should take a few minutes -- in fact, at least one of your daily brushings should last about 20 minutes and be extremely thorough.
During orthodontic treatment, you'll want to replace your toothbrush more often than usual. Usually, you replace your toothbrush every six months; during orthodontic treatment, the appliances cause more wear and tear on the brush bristles, breaking them down and making them less effective. When you brush at bedtime, add an antiseptic fluoride rinse.
There is a special brush known as a proxabrush that is shaped like a Christmas tree and can be used to brush under the archwire and more closely around the brackets.
Flossing is important for reaching the places that brushing can't and preventing gum disease. How do you floss when you're wearing braces? You use a floss threader provided to you by our office. The floss threader can pull the floss between teeth above the archwire so that you can clean along the gum line. Make sure when flossing near the archwire to be careful and not place pressure on the wire.