By its very nature, orthodontics is about constant adjustments and teeth movement over time. It should come as no surprise that regardless of your age, living with braces takes some time to get used to.
But at the end of your treatment, it’s all worth it when you get to enjoy your beautiful new smile, says Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. With a little guidance and a few key tips, you’ll find the process very doable. Here’s our step-by-step guide to daily care with braces.
A great place to start this conversation is to describe what happens during the orthodontic treatment process. Orthodontics is based on the gentle shifting of your teeth and the underlying tissue, a process called bone resorption and ossification.
In the beginning, cells called osteoclasts break down old bone which is reabsorbed by your body. Once your teeth move into their new positions, another type of cell known as osteoblasts create new bone through ossification. Every time you bite and chew, osteoblasts continue to strengthen your bone, reinforcing the process.
A strong at-home oral care routine is important whether you have braces or not. With braces, the importance gets super-sized because you have hundreds of new nooks, crannies, and hard-to-reach places where food debris can get trapped. Maintaining clean teeth just got more complicated.
Take your oral hygiene routine up a notch by using some new tools like interproximal brushes to reach into those new spaces. Brush after snacks and meals, but in addition to normal brushing at your gum line, add gentle brushing on top of and below your brackets.
Don’t forget to floss at least once a day, and do it before brushing. Flossing before brushing not only makes removing plaque more effective, but it also enhances the cleaning process by increasing the fluoride concentration delivered from your toothpaste.
Like with brushing, you’ll get the hang of using new tools like floss threaders that can make it easier to navigate between the wires and brackets of your braces. Your provider instructs you on the best flossing and brushing techniques. You’ll be a pro in no time.
Since comfort and convenience take on a whole new meaning with braces, it’s a good idea to pack a to-go kit to bring with you throughout your day. Lip balm and dental wax will become a necessity during your orthodontic treatment.
During the day, you’ll want to reapply wax to wires and brackets to keep them from irritating your cheeks and mouth. When you wear braces, your lips tend to dry out as a result of stretching wider over your teeth. Round out your to-go kit with a toothbrush and floss to handle those post-meal cleanups.
Speaking of properly cleaning your teeth and braces, the process will be a lot easier if you remove from the equation sticky foods and candies as well as sugary drinks. Just say no to caramel, gummies, and foods like corn on the cob, which are particularly challenging to pick out of your braces.
The same goes for popcorn, unpopped popcorn kernels, and hard candy which can damage your brackets and wires.
Break bad habits
Similarly, it’s a good idea to break bad habits like chewing your fingernails, ice cubes, or pens and pencils, which can damage your braces.
Using tobacco products should also be avoided, and it’s not just because they can stain your teeth or braces. The nicotine in cigarettes and tobacco products can interfere with the bone resorption and ossification process, thereby impacting the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment.
If you’re considering braces and want to learn more about what to expect, contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule an orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.