Now that you have braces, it is important that you continue to diligently brush and floss your teeth like you did before. In fact, since the brackets and wire from the braces will obstruct your toothbrush and dental floss, you will need to be extra careful to clean off any food particles and plaque on your teeth.
But that sounds like a lot of work! You may be wondering if not brushing teeth with braces is a viable option. What if you used mouthwash everyday? Or perhaps you can just tough it out until the next visit to the dentist, and you can let a professional clean your teeth instead?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your teeth and gums need to be cleaned daily. Don’t think about the additional work, it’ll all be worth it! Instead, think about the straight, beautiful teeth that you’ll have. It is only through having an oral care routine with daily brushing and flossing that your teeth will stay strong and healthy once your braces finally come off.
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Consequences of Not Brushing Teeth With Braces
The negative effects of not brushing teeth with braces is the same whether you have any orthodontic appliances or not. Neglecting to brush your teeth means that food particles and plaque will stay on your teeth. In the case of braces, it is even easier for food and plaque to get stuck around the brackets and wire.
As the bacteria multiplies and feasts on the decomposing food, they will produce lactic acid that will wear down your enamel. This eventually causes cavities. Furthermore, plaque will eventually harden, turning into tartar (calculus) which also contain lots of bacteria and is difficult to remove. The presence of calculus and therefore bacteria will lead to gingivitis, and eventually periodontal disease.
If enough cavities form and they are severe enough to cause you pain, then you will have to get those cavities dealt with. The dentist will have to remove the braces, repair your damaged teeth, glue the brackets back and attach a new wire, and so on. This is an arduous and expensive process. Your gums may have also receded over time, causing bone loss. If your teeth are in bad enough condition, they may have to be removed.
With braces on, these issues are even more likely to occur since people struggle to adequately clean their teeth with the brackets and wire in the way. In the next section, we will discuss how you can properly floss and brush your teeth with braces to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
How to Brush Teeth with Braces
It is a good idea to brush your teeth after each meal, or at least two times a day – once in the morning, and again in the evening. You do not need to brush very hard, just brush at a 45 degree angle and let the bristles do most of the cleaning. If you brush too hard it will not be as effective, and you can damage your braces and hurt your gums.
Expect each brushing session to take longer than it normally would without braces. You want to take time to brush around the brackets, behind the wires, cleaning every nook and cranny.
Each time you brush your teeth, follow these steps in order:
- Rinse your mouth with water to loosen the food particles.
- Rinse your toothbrush to remove food debris or gunk.
- Brush at a 45-degree angle to reach behind the wire.
- Do not use too much pressure; use short strokes and brush back and forth.
- Finish by brushing your tongue, as that is where a lot of bacteria resides.
You can also use an electric toothbrush or an interdental toothbrush, which are even more effective at cleaning plaque and food particles from braces.
Remember to Floss
Flossing is tricky because the wire prevents the dental floss from reaching all the way down to your gums. You will need the help of a floss threader to get the floss underneath the wire and between your teeth.
We highly recommend you invest in a water flosser to make this task easier. A water flosser shoots out a jet of water with enough force to dislodge food debris and clean off plaque bacteria. Check out our review of the best Waterpik water flosser for braces to learn more.
Use Fluoride Mouthwash
Fluoride is extremely beneficial for teeth. It helps strengthen them and prevents them from decaying. Your toothpaste already contains fluoride, but you can occasionally use fluoride mouthwash if it is not convenient for you to brush your teeth.
Visit Your Dentist
Nobody can clean your teeth like the dentist can. Even if you follow the above advice, there will still be areas that you missed or cannot clean sufficiently without professional equipment.
If you typically go to the dentist once every six months, with braces on you should consider going once every three or four months.
Is not brushing teeth with braces a good idea? NO! You can and should brush teeth with braces. It is unbelievably important. You should be brushing more than when you didn’t have braces!
Make sure to not only brush at least two times a day (or after each meal) but to also floss. Flossing is hard with braces, but floss threaders can make life a bit easier. If you can, consider investing in a water flosser or electric toothbrush to help you clean your teeth.
If you do not brush your teeth with braces, you may suffer from gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth loss.