The impressions have been made, and the appointment has been set: It’s time for getting braces. Once all the prep work has been done, your orthodontist has to actually apply the braces to your teeth, something which might jangle your nerves. Whether it’s you or your child in the orthodontist’s chair, knowing what to expect and how to prep for braces can help calm some of those jitters.
Clean Your Teeth
If your teeth aren’t sufficiently clean before you get braces, your orthodontist will have to clean them with a polishing paste so that the braces can properly be cemented to your teeth. If possible, schedule a regular professional cleaning appointment with your dentist a few days before you get your new braces so the teeth will be plaque-free prior to your braces appointment. Then, brushing with a toothpaste along with flossing and gargling mouthwash before your appointment can help make you feel more confident and will speed things along with the orthodontist.
Talk Types of Braces
Before your orthodontist gets started, make sure that you understand what type of braces are being used and how they’ll affect your teeth. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, there are typically three types of braces, all of which utilize wires and elastic bands to attach the braces together and align teeth:
Your orthodontist will choose the right type of braces based on your specific dental challenges. Luckily, there are several options from which to choose to make braces uniquely yours, such as choosing clear bands so they’re less noticeable or letting kids pick out bright, fun colors.
Expect Some Discomfort
You can expect some mild discomfort as you head home. Your teeth might be sensitive, and the new braces can cause sores in your mouth. Try eating soft foods, such as soup, pasta and bananas, in the few days following the application, and take an over-the-counter pain medication as needed. If you experience high levels of discomfort that won’t go away with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, however, call your orthodontist for a second opinion. Your sensitivity should go away after a few days.
Talk to your orthodontist about proper care of your braces. You’ll need to brush regularly and use a Waterpik to flush out the food particles that can get caught between braces and teeth; you should also avoid sticky foods. With proper care and by seeing your orthodontist regularly for checkups, you can keep your teeth healthy while your braces are in place.
Getting braces can be a little nerve-wracking, but the fear of the unknown is usually the worst part. Asking plenty of questions and prepping physically for your appointment should go a long way toward increasing your comfort level. Next stop: A perfect smile!
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Each type of orthodontic hardware, including wires, bands, brackets, expanders, springs, elastics and screws, poses its own unique challenges for the patient when it comes to cleaning. All this hardware provides additional surfaces for food debris, plaque biofilm and acids to adhere and collect in these areas of the mouth that are very difficult to clean, as explained on Dental Associates.
The tiny germs first find an effective place to hide around orthodontic hardware and between teeth, growing into larger colonies of plaque biofilm. As readily available food particles are digested by the germ colonies, the plaque biofilm masses process the food debris. Acid is the by-product of this germ digestion process. These acids etch around the brackets and bands, creating the white chalky orthodontic spots often shown to patients before they pursue braces. The good news is that these spots can be prevented if a patient is taught how to clean braces properly.
Cleaning Braces at Home
The proper removal of food debris, biofilm and acids from around the braces will protect the teeth and gums from being affected by oral care diseases. Patients must be reminded before the placement of orthodontics that a higher level of at-home care will help decrease the incidence of tooth decay. Specialized equipment is recommended for cleaning teeth with braces. The standard tools for cleaning braces at home include a high-quality toothbrush, floss/interdental cleaners and an at-home oral irrigation system.
Toothbrushing: Whether manual or electric, a toothbrush with soft bristles and a compact head is best for cleaning teeth with braces. Always remember to remove elastics before brushing so hooks and wires are not disturbed.
The following are some toothbrushing instructions to assist you in cleaning your braces:
1. The toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and brushed back and forth and then swept toward the biting surface of the teeth.
2. Brush the top and bottom surfaces of the brackets to remove plaque and food debris as well as the front of the bracket and wires. It may be beneficial to physically hold back the lip with one hand and brush the bracket areas.
Floss/Interdental Cleaners: It’s important to note that there are different interproximal cleaning tools that can remove debris from the mouth when you’re on the go, such as soft picks, proxybrushes, woven dental floss, superfloss or triangular, interdental picks. Patients can carry these tools in their bags or purses to use when they don’t have time for traditional flossing. Despite the variety of cleaning tools available, there is no substitute for proper flossing with a threader, as detailed on Dental Health Advice. Food can get trapped in the spaces between the teeth and under wires, so it’s necessary to take some time each day to thread floss under the wires to remove debris before it damages the enamel. Access the areas where most other devices can’t reach by gliding the floss along the surface of the tooth and gently cleaning the area below the gum line.
Oral Irrigation Systems: At-home oral irrigation systems are specialized dental tools available at drugstores and major retail chains. They push water through a device in a thin stream to directly flush around the teeth and orthodontic hardware. Food, bacteria, plaque biofilm and acids can be flushed from hard-to-reach spots with these systems; although they can make your home care efforts more effective, they should never be used to replace brushing and flossing.
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