Oral Hygiene

Orthodontic Hygiene

  • Introduction
  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Rinsing
  • Interdental Toothbrush
  • Retainer Care
  • Food Guidelines

Now that you have your braces in place, it's even more important to maintain good hygiene during your treatment. Braces, wires, bands and retainers can trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Careful brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal and snack, is the best way to prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease.

You can learn more about proper orthodontic hygiene by clicking on the buttons for each particular topic.

  • Step 1Flossing - Step 1

    Floss at least once a day. You need to pull the floss under the archwire with a floss threader. Start by pulling floss through the threader.

  • Step 2Flossing - Step 2

    Push the end of the floss threader under the archwire and pull the floss through.

  • Step 3Flossing - Step 3

    Pull the floss up between the teeth and gently move it up and down the side of both teeth. Remember to move it up all the way under the gums.

  • Step 4Flossing - Step 4

    Pull the floss out and use a different section of it for the next tooth.

  • Step 1
  • Step 2
  • Step 3
  • Step 4

When you're finished brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or an antiseptic dental rinse. An antiseptic rinse can help minor gum inflammations and irritations from orthodontic appliances, as well as cleanse canker sores and other minor wounds. It can also remove debris or irritants from the mouth, speeding up your body's natural healing process.

Interdental Toothbrush

Using an interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) can help keep your teeth, braces and gums clean and healthy. Use this device slowly and carefully to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces, taking care not to damage your braces.

Retainer Care

Since retainers can accumulate food particles and plaque, brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth. Also soak your retainer once a day in a glass of room-temperature tap water with a denture-cleaning tablet. This will help prevent plaque build-up and oral infections and keep it tasting better. DO NOT use hot water, which can distort the appliance.

Food Guidelines

During your first week in braces, stick to a soft food diet until any discomfort subsides. Afterward, you can eat just about anything while wearing braces, with a few exceptions.

You should avoid hard foods like ice and pizza crust, as well as sticky foods such as caramels and chewing gum, since they can damage wires and brackets. Also minimize sugary foods like ice cream and cookies, and reduce sugared drinks like soda or milk to once a day.

Interdental Toothbrush

A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. The Proxabrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Topical Fluoride

Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay while you are wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of Phos-Flur does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your daily schedule at bedtime. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out. You may not eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use Phos-Flur. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.

Cleaning Your Removable Appliance

Brush your removable appliance every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance daily. Dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance once every day. Your appliance will taste better, and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.

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