Your teeth and your braces should always SHINE! Proper oral hygiene is one of the patient’s most important responsibilities during treatment! If excellent oral hygiene is not a priority to the patient, cavities and unattractive white spots or gum disease, can develop on the teeth and require extensive dental work to correct the damage. You do not want that to happen to you! Braces tend to collect plaque and food and excellent oral hygiene is a must!
White material on the teeth can sometimes be seen and/or scraped off the teeth with a fingernail! Gums can bleed when brushing or flossing and appear swollen, puffy or red. These are signs of poor oral hygiene, and infection in the mouth!
Here are your instructions to prevent this:
Brush with any technique your dentist or hygienist has taught you. It is important to remove all the plaque. We recommend a child’s size soft toothbrush even for adults. Concentrate your brushing at the gumline, between the brace and the gums! The gums should be gently massaged when brushing. If you see bleeding that means the gums are infected and you need to brush more, not less! Replace your toothbrush when the bristles start to bend and are not straight, this should be every two to three months.
Electric toothbrushes have been shown in studies to improve plaque removal in the poorer brusher. If you are a thorough brusher and floss daily, they are not worth the additional expense. The one we like the most is SonicCare and that is what Dr. Feather uses daily. Other electric toothbrushes are fine as well as long as the head is small. We strongly recommend an electric toothbrush for everyone.
Brush after eating anything – even at school or at work. Brush at least three times per day. Brush well before bed using a fluoride toothpaste and then floss and finally rinse with a fluoride rinse. Don’t use toothpaste with baking soda or a whitening agent until after your braces are off. Additionally the ‘gel’ toothpastes are too abrasive.
Floss at least once a day to maintain good oral health. If the gums are swollen, or red, or bleeding you should floss every time you brush. We will provide floss threaders and show you how to use them. Most patients needs these at first then quickly learn how to thread the floss under the wires without the use of the floss threaders. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.
These are helpful in getting to hard to reach areas. We will recommend these if we see a problem brushing under the wires but they are not necessary for all brushers. Ask for them from the staff or buy them at the Dollar Tree or your favorite pharmacy.
These are helpful in removing large food particles from around the braces and for massaging the gums especially when you’re getting better after oral surgery. Use them on the lowest pressure setting. Direct the stream of water perpendicular to the gums. Do not angle them into the gum sulcus or you could inadvertently push particles under the gums.
We recommend the use of disclosing drops or tablets to check the effectiveness of brushing and flossing. Use ½ tablet and swish well everywhere when you think you have done a good job of cleaning your teeth. Spit out directly into the bottom of the sink. Splatter onto the counters, towels, etc. could stain these objects so be careful. Then inspect your teeth and brush and floss again where you missed. You can find these products at the pharmacy or at our office. Please see the section called Oral Hygiene Products for a more thorough description of these products.
We highly recommend the use of fluoride rinses during treatment. These agents help to reduce the chance of damage to the teeth from inadequate oral hygiene. We recommend that you use an acidulated rinse, such as PhosFlur. This rinse contains no alcohol and the ‘acidulated’ part means that the uptake into the tooth is more effective than those agents that are not ‘acidulated’. PhosFlur is available at the pharmacy and is about $15 per bottle and comes as a paste as well. Ask the pharmacist for this as it is not kept on the regular shelves. This should easily last you three months. Other good rinses are Fluoriguard or ACT (these are alcohol based). Regardless of what rinse you use, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. We recommend use for all patients before bedtime, after brushing and flossing. Do not rinse with water after using a fluoride rinse.
Before Your Appointment
If you are unable to brush your teeth before coming to your appointment, please brush as soon as you come to the office, after signing in. Please keep the sink area clean for the next user.