Wearing braces can bring exciting changes as you look forward to having straight teeth after braces. Orthodontic treatment is a one to a three-year commitment that requires your full participation to achieve the best results.
Since you’ve decided to commit to this journey, it’s important that you take care of your teeth during and especially after having braces. Some things to keep in mind with wearing braces include:
- Brushing and flossing between your teeth will be harder with braces
- Your oral hygiene will require more time and effort
- You might need professional teeth cleaning more often
- Tooth cavities and inflamed gums come more easily
- Your teeth can discolor while wearing braces
- Teeth can still move after braces come off
Following the guidelines below can help you achieve a successful smile transformation, keep your teeth and gums healthy, and prevent a relapse of your orthodontic treatment!
How To Take Care of Teeth During Braces
Wearing braces makes toothbrushing more crucial than ever because plaque can build up quickly and easily on your teeth.
It’s going to be a little tougher to maintain healthy oral hygiene with braces just because it takes a little more effort than without them. But if you want to make sure you don’t have any issues after braces (more on that below), remember this tips:”
- Stay away from hard foods and don’t chew on hard objects such as pens and fingernails.
- Avoid sticky and crunchy foods.
- Do not chew ice.
- Take off the elastics and any other removable parts of your braces before brushing and flossing.
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth with water before brushing.
- Choose an ADA-approved soft-bristled toothbrush. Smaller head toothbrushes work well to clean your braces and teeth.
- Always use a gentle and circular brushing motion.
- Brush after every meal.
- Place the brush at a 45-degree angle above and beneath the orthodontic wires to clean the braces.
- Brush each tooth individually by placing the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Use a circular motion and clean all tooth surfaces.
- Get a dental checkup and cleaning every six months while you wear braces.
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The Best Flossing Options
Although flossing is more challenging when wearing braces, it is critical to healthy teeth and gums. Special flossing tools help make it easier! These include:
- Waxed floss
Unwaxed floss can get caught in the brackets and braces and tear. This leaves small pieces of floss stuck between your teeth, which can cause inflammation or irritation.
- Orthodontic floss threader
The stiff plastic point on the floss threader makes it super easier to thread the floss behind the wires.
This specialized spongy floss has a stiff end similar to a floss threader. Superfloss comes in pre-cut strips and for convenience.
- Interdental brushes and picks
These are effective tools to help remove plaque between teeth, especially for anyone with braces.
- Water flossers
These use water to dislodge food and clean plaque from between teeth and under the gums. These are popular with people wearing braces because they’re easy (and fun) to use.
How To Take Care of Teeth After Braces
Now, after years of wearing braces, you have straight teeth for a beautiful smile!
To keep your smile bright, you need to take a few steps to keep your teeth white. This will also help keep your teeth free of cavities and your gums healthy.
Here are the steps:
1. Get a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning
Even with good oral hygiene habits while wearing braces, you may have accumulated plaque and stains on some of your teeth.
A professional cleaning can remove these and polish your teeth to shine. An exam can also detect any small cavities that developed.
2. Maintain a healthy oral hygiene regimen
The best routine includes:
- Brushing at least twice daily
- Flossing once a day, and
- Regular dental checkups and cleanings
3. Wear your retainer as instructed
Sometimes, your teeth can shift to where they were before wearing braces. Your retainer keeps your teeth properly aligned, so wearing it as instructed is critical to maintaining the smile you want. At the very least, you’ll need to wear these every night. If your teeth do end up moving, you can always get Invisalign from your local dentist to straighten them back out.
4. Take care of your retainer
Clean your retainer daily according to the directions you receive from your dentist. And remember to always protect your retainer when not wearing it!
5. Consider teeth whitening
Wearing braces makes brushing and flossing difficult, which leads to stains on some teeth. You might be disappointed to see that your straight teeth are not white once the dentist removes your braces. Professional teeth whitening can eliminate these stains to give you a white and bright smile.
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Other Things To Expect
Here’s the thing.
Typically, after removing your braces, your teeth will be exactly what you dreamed of: straight, white, and pretty much perfect.
However, if you don’t maintain a strict oral regime, you can face problems after braces such as:
- Teeth moving out of their straightened positions
- Tooth decay
- Tooth staining
- Receding gums
- TMJ disorders
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw pain
Let’s address two of the most common and concerning after-braces issues.
Teeth shifting after braces
It may surprise you if your teeth start moving once your braces are removed. This can happen due to several factors, including:
- Failure to wear your retainer as instructed
- Grinding your teeth while sleeping
Once your teeth shift, your retainer will no longer fit as it should. If this occurs, contact your dentist and either get your retainer adjusted or replaced. Again, if your teeth move significantly, you may want to choose to wear invisible braces such as Invisalign.
Yellow teeth after braces
You may notice white or even yellow spots on some of your teeth once the braces come off. Plaque accumulates quickly around braces. This can cause mineral loss inside your tooth, leaving a chalky white spot in the enamel.
Plaque and dental tartar buildup can also cause yellowing of teeth while wearing braces. While plaque is white or invisible, tartar has a darker yellow or brown appearance.
Treatment options for these spots include:
1.Professional teeth whitening
Over-the-counter whitening products may help, but professional in-office whitening gives the best results.
Enamel damaged by demineralization can repair itself with improved oral hygiene and a better diet with fewer sugars.
3. Cosmetic dentistry
You can help prevent stained teeth with:
- Good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and rinsing with an ADA-approved fluoride mouthwash.
- Regular dental exams and professional cleanings.
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugars and starchy foods.
Other causes of these spots include nutrition, excess fluoride, and genetics.