Spring Cleaning Your Braces
With the new season rapidly approaching, now is a great time to start your spring cleaning. Generally, when most people think of spring cleaning, they think of household chores, such as scrubbing floors or reorganizing closets. However, spring cleaning can also be applied to your braces.
The health of your teeth and gums, while you wear braces, is dependent on proper oral hygiene. Still, with the many components that sometimes comprise braces, such as the brackets, screws, wires and expanders, properly performing a spring cleaning of your braces and teeth can be challenging. Here are a few tips to make the endeavor easy and effective:
Even though there are braces covering your teeth, you still need to begin your cleaning regimen with tooth brushing. When cleaning a mouth full of braces, it is best to use a toothbrush with a small, compact head. The cleaning space in your mouth will be more limited due to the girth of the appliance.
As your brush, begin by holding the toothbrush against the gum line at an angle of 45 degrees. You can brush in small circular motions covering the areas adjacent to the gums and then move downward toward the base of each tooth. Be sure to pay special attention to the brackets and wires of your braces. Plaque and particles of food can easily deposit and accumulate there.
Your braces can make flossing more time-consuming, but it is still necessary to clean between your teeth. To navigate the floss around your braces, you can use a threader, which is a small tool made of stiff nylon thread. The threader is a few inches in length and includes a loop at one end through which the floss is fed. Once the floss is through the loop, the threader should be pushed between the teeth. The stiff nylon pulls the floss with it. However, it may be necessary to angle the threader strategically, especially if your teeth are set quite closely.
Water flossers or oral irrigators can be strategic as you spring clean your teeth and braces. The devices include a small nozzle that directs a concentrated stream of water at the areas around your braces and teeth. The water flushes away plaque, trapped food and bacterial acids.
This damaging debris is often the cause of tooth decay. Plaque, which is a sticky combination of bacteria and food, coats the hardware of your braces and the surfaces of your teeth. As the bacteria within your mouth feed on the leftover particles of food from your meals and snacks, acid is released as a byproduct of their microbial digestion. This acid inflames your gums and eats away at your teeth to cause decay.
Rinsing with Antimicrobial Mouthwashes
Some mouth rinses contain antibacterial ingredients, such as alcohol or chlorhexidine. As you rinse your mouth with these germ-killing rinses, the bacterial population in your mouth is reduced. Your dentist may prefer that you use chlorhexidine-based products instead of rinses with a high alcohol content because of the tendency of the alcohol to dry out your mouth. Antimicrobial rinses kill the germs on all surfaces within your mouth, including those of your braces.
Avoiding Tooth Whiteners
Although you may be anxious to have your teeth and braces sparkle, it is best to delay tooth-whitening until your braces have been removed. Whiteners, which are often peroxide-based, chemically bleach dental stains from the teeth. Since your brackets may prevent the whitening agents from reaching portions of your teeth, only the exposed areas of your tooth enamel will be whitened. As a result, after your braces are removed, you could end up with small yellow squares, where your brackets are now positioned.
Visiting Your Dentist
Visits to have your braces adjusted should not replace your preventive-care visits. Some preventive care, such as periodic cleanings, should still only be performed by a dental professional. To complete your spring cleaning, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have tartar accumulations removed.
Tartar deposits build up as plaque that has been left in place for a prolonged period hardens onto the teeth. Once the plaque calcifies, it cannot be removed by regular brushing. Special dental tools must be used to safely scrape the tartar away.
To learn more about spring cleaning your braces, call to schedule an appointment with our Tallahassee, Florida office. Dr. Clark would be more than happy to discuss your personal oral health and how to ma