Top Tips for Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

It can be easy to keep the same habits from before you had braces, but the truth is that orthodontic care does alter your oral hygiene routine. We know that changing a part of your day that has been the same since, well, ever, can be intimidating and discouraging, especially for new patients. However, we are happy to tell you that it doesn’t need to be scary! While it will take some adjustment, once you develop your new habits and incorporate them into your routine, you will quickly realize it wasn’t that big of a change after all.

There are plenty of tips and tricks to care for your braces during treatment, but we want to share with you our favorite ones that prevent issues with your equipment and teeth. Without further ado, in no particular order:

Don’t forget to floss!

You have probably heard this from your dentist since you first met. Despite how it may look, braces do not make flossing impossible. Flossing during orthodontic treatment is just as important as before and will be after treatment. It is slightly different than flossing without braces, but that’s okay! Once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature. Here are some tips to help you keep your teeth and gums in top shape with floss while wearing braces:

  • Use waxed flossThe waxed surface makes it easier to slide between teeth, and because it is less likely to unravel or break than unwaxed floss, it is much more convenient for someone wearing braces. Harder to break floss = less floss stuck between teeth and braces! If you find that you have a hard time flossing with your orthodontic equipment, you might try using floss threaders. They help get the floss between teeth even if your braces are in the way.
  • Invest in a water flosser — A water flosser, also commonly known as the most popular brand name Water Pik, are hygiene appliances that clean the gums and teeth using streams of water. They are a great addition to any routine with or without orthodontic treatment, but they are perfect for someone with braces. They can clean your mouth of any bacteria or food left behind by brushing and flossing in hard-to-reach places. Water flossers also ward off bad breath and diseases caused by a build of plaque or germs. It is important to note that this should be done in addition to waxed flossing, not as a replacement!

Click here for tips on tooth brushing with braces!

Pick the right toothpaste and mouthwash.

There are so many different kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash out there it can be overwhelming. The best toothpaste and mouthwash vary depending on your needs and goals. The choice is made even more complicated by your dental or orthodontic work. Here’s what to look for:

    • Light on the acid, please! — If your toothpaste or mouthwash is too acidic, it can cause staining to your clear braces or rust on your metal dental appliances.
  • Fluoride wanted! — Fluoride helps keep your enamel strong and protects your teeth against the acid in some food or drinks. 
  • No teeth whitening. — We know white teeth are “in,” but you don’t want to use whitening toothpaste (or other whitening products) while wearing braces. Orthodontic work covers parts of your teeth, meaning some surface of your teeth won’t be touched by the whitening agents, meaning when you get your braces off, your teeth will be more than color. Using whitening products is very tempting, especially with all the perfect teeth you might see on social media. Still, we must stress the importance of waiting until the braces come off to begin a whitening process. (Note: If you are using Invisalign, we recommend you ask Dr. Scaffidi before using a whitening treatment.)

Narrowing down the options doesn’t need to be confusing! During your appointment at Scaffidi Orthodontics, ask a member of our team what they recommend for you to best meet your goals without slowing down your orthodontic treatment.

“Oh, sorry, I can’t eat that. I’m on the braces diet.”

If you wear braces, you might have to adjust your eating habits. The strong and sturdy metal appliances in your mouth are doing their job of aligning your teeth, but unfortunately, those efforts could become derailed by certain foods and drinks. Damaged brackets can cause pain, discomfort, and extra office visits. Although we love to see you at Scaffidi Orthodontics, we want this process to be as pain- and disruption-free to you and your life as possible, so we have put together this short list to help keep your braces in tip-top shape!

  • No crunch — Crunchy foods can be too hard on the braces. We encourage patients to avoid crunchy chips, popcorn, hard taco shells, nuts, and other crunchy foods.
  • No hard or sticky food — Food that is hard, like ice, can damage the braces. Sticky food, like caramel or gum, can get stuck on your braces and be very difficult to get off. If the food or candy is hard and sticky, it can be very inconvenient and potentially harmful for you and your braces.
  • Avoid Fibrous vegetables or “bite into” fruit — Fibrous vegetables like celery are often full of string that can get stuck in your orthodontic work. Apples and other hard fruits that you bite into can damage the front brackets. Some fibrous vegetables like broccoli and carrots are also too rough on braces. We recommend cutting them into smaller pieces when eating. 
  • No Sugary and Acidic Drinks Beverages, including but not limited to sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks, have a lot of sugar and are high in acid that can damage not only your teeth with or without braces but also your metal work as well!

Our team would be happy to provide a more detailed list upon request!

Top Tips for Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

Interproximal Toothbrush

There are plenty of gadgets and gizmos for keeping your mouth healthy and squeaky clean! One of our favorites is the interproximal toothbrush. Its bristles are perfect for removing anything stuck between the brackets or wires when you’re on the go or about to start your evening routine. It is small and easy to carry with you. No one likes food stuck in their teeth, and you certainly don’t want food in your braces! You might also want to carry around a small mirror to use away from home or to see hard-to-reach spots.

Want more tips and tricks?

[p] Call or visit our office today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Scaffidi and get even more tips and tricks tailored to your orthodontic needs! Our experienced team at Scaffidi Orthodontics is always happy to answer any questions to make your journey to a straight smile as comfortable and easy as possible!