You've decided to start wearing braces.
Congratulations! You're making a valiant effort towards attaining a winning smile that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Having a straight, white smile can open all new doors, professionally, personally, even romantically. It can give you a new sense of worth, and make you feel confident beyond your imagination.
But to attain that captivating smile, you need to care for your braces while you're wearing them.
Without proper oral care, your braces can become uncomfortable, and you can extend the length of time you're required to wear them.
Your teeth can also become stained, and you can develop cavities and decay, leading to even worse dental problems down the road.
To keep your braces - and the teeth underneath - sparkling clean, here are three habits to adopt as part of your regular oral care routine.
Keep Those Braces Clean
1. Brush After Every Meal
You probably already brush every morning upon waking and nightly before you go to bed. If not, then you might want to start.
Now that you wear braces, your teeth are more susceptible to plaque buildup and invasion from bacteria than ever before.
When you eat with braces, food can get trapped in the spaces between your braces and the interconnecting wires.
To keep your braces and teeth clean, consider carrying a toothbrush with you everywhere you go - to a friend's house, to work or school, and even when you go out to dinner.
Before you brush, rinse first with water to dislodge any excess food that may have been left behind, then choose a soft-bristle toothbrush and brush gently so that you don't damage any wires or brackets.
Your Orthodontist might also suggest that you rinse with mouthwash and floss at least once per day.
Go easy with the floss. Thread it between the tooth and wire, and work it slowly back and forth between your teeth and braces. Remember, if you floss too hard, you can damage your braces, leading to costly repairs and possibly longer treatment.
To make flossing easier, get an Orthodontic Flosser, which can be purchased at most drug stores. You are also urged to get the kind with wax, which slides between your teeth easier and is unlikely to snag on your brackets.
2. Keep Your Braces Protected
If you play sports or engage in other physical activities, like martial arts, you should consider wearing a mouth guard to avoid damaging the delicate system of brackets and wires. If you wear braces on the top and the bottom, get a mouth guard that protects your entire mouth. For best results, go with a custom-made mouth guard created and provided by your Orthodontist.
3. Avoid Problem Foods
Your Orthodontist most likely gave you a list of the foods you could and could not eat during treatment. Foods like taffy or crunchy apples can get stuck in your braces and, in some cases, the brackets or wires could snap completely.
Other foods to avoid include raw carrots, dried fruits, caramel, nuts, popcorn, and beef jerky. Basically, any food that is too crunchy, sticky, or chewy.
For best results, consider the consistency of each food before you put it in your mouth and try to minimize damage any way possible. For instance, corn on the cob can be eaten, but the kernels should be cut off the cob with a knife before digging in. Apples and carrots can also be cut into much smaller pieces.
Your Orthodontist and Dentist would also prefer that you stay away from too many sugary or starchy foods and soft drinks, which can promote tooth decay and gum disease.
While you're at it, avoid crunching on ice, chewing gum, and biting down on anything out of nervousness, like your pen-tip or fingernail.
With these three tips added to your daily routine, your braces will remain sparkling clean, and your teeth protected until treatment is complete.