Finding the right balance in your oral care routine is stressful enough without having extra orthodontics to consider. And if you have braces, it can be hard to tell what you’re supposed to do and how often to do it.

When wearing braces, you must consider braces care on top of regular oral care in order to maintain your health while still allowing the braces to do their job.

If you’re struggling with this issue, keep reading. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on how to keep your braces clean and your teeth in top shape.

Your Oral Care Routine While Wearing Braces

When you first get your braces on, you should begin to establish your new routine right away.

We all skip flossing sometimes when we’re tired or in a rush, but if you take the time to establish your new habits and practice them regularly, it will soon become second nature. 

It’s easy for plaque and bacteria to become stuck in and around the braces, especially where they meet your teeth. Keep this in mind when you start to establish your new routine.

The first step of your new routine is brushing your teeth. However, when wearing braces, you must pay closer attention than you used to to make sure that you’re cleaning every wire and crevice in your mouth.

Take each tooth individually and slowly. Pay attention as you brush in a circular motion on each tooth. It may be helpful to brush in front of a mirror so that you can see as you clean every bit of wire on each tooth.

At first, this will take several minutes longer than your old brushing routine, but as you continue to build the habit, you’ll get quicker.

Flossing With Braces

Next, think about flossing. Depending on the recommendation of your orthodontist, you may need to start flossing more often, from several times a week up to once or twice a day.

Traditional floss can get caught in the wires and break, so consider using an alternative. Waxed floss, a water flosser, and floss threaders are all products that can make flossing with braces easier.

Once you have your flosser of choice, you can begin. Just like building a new brushing routine, you should go slowly and pay attention as you figure out your new flossing regimen.

Besides going in between your teeth, you also need to floss in between the wires and your teeth. Those spots are perfect hideouts for bacteria to make a home.

It’s especially important to take care when flossing between wires, as too much pressure could pop one out of place. That can result in a painful exposed wire poking the soft tissues in your mouth, and an extra trip to the orthodontist that you don’t want.

Eating With Braces

No matter what you eat, food will get stuck in your braces. It’s just a fact. But you can help keep your braces clean by being mindful of what you eat.

When choosing a braces-friendly diet, remember this: soft foods are better; hard foods are more difficult. 

Hard foods include raw vegetables, nuts, meat from the bone, candy, and other foods that are more difficult to chew. Soft foods include all liquids and foods like yogurt, cooked veggies, tender meat, tofu, nut spreads, and more.

Biting down on a rock-hard piece of food can damage your braces by causing the metal to shift or pop out. Again, this will result in an extra orthodontist trip to put everything back in its place.

Harder foods also include crunchy and sticky snacks such as gummy bears that will become trapped between the braces and your teeth. It can be difficult and time-consuming to pick out pieces of candy or popcorn kernels in between your teeth and the wires.

If you do decide to snack on some harder or sticker foods, check your braces immediately after, even if you don’t think any got stuck. Do a sweep with some floss and your toothbrush to make sure. And be especially careful when brushing at night, since you’ve been eating all day.

Consequences of Poor Braces Care

Because of the added surface area in your mouth, having braces makes it easier for bacteria and plaque to build up without the wearer realizing it.

This can result in mild to severe tooth decay, which is sometimes irreversible. The consequences can range from having a few cavities filled to losing your teeth.

Also, it’s not just about your teeth. Proper oral hygiene will also lead to healthier gums. Bacteria can damage the gums, leading to receding gums or other periodontal diseases, some of which are only fixable with surgery.

Poor oral care can also prolong your braces treatment. If your orthodontist recognizes the signs of tooth decay, they may want to remove your braces and do a thorough cleaning or other treatment.

Removing your braces, even for short periods, will make your teeth begin to shift back to their original positions. When you get the braces back on, you may have added weeks or months onto your original timeline for getting the braces off.

Don’t Hesitate With Your Oral Health

Because wearing braces is such a tricky process, it’s important to find an orthodontist that is experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly.

In the Fort Pierce area, this means visiting Jacobus Orthodontics. Dr. J and his staff are a team with decades of experience helping people get their perfect smile.

If you have questions about your orthodontics, or if you think braces might be right for you, reach out today to schedule a free consultation. Your teeth will thank you!