Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing are an important part of being an orthodontic patient. Dedication to good oral hygiene aids in healthy gums and teeth move their best in a healthy environment. Braces can trap food and contribute to plaque formation if not properly cared for. When plaque is not removed from teeth and around the braces, the health of teeth and gums is compromised and can increase the risk of gum disease and dental decay.

Plaque is a mixture of bacteria, debris and remnants of food consumed throughout the day. The bacteria feed on the sugars in the debris and produce acids which can irritate your gums and erode the enamel (decalcification).

The thorough removal of plaque is very important as to ensure that the surfaces of your teeth around the braces will be healthy and look good upon brace removal. The following suggestions will aid in healthy teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment.

Important factors to consider when purchasing a toothbrush are that it is soft and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Soft bristle toothbrushes work better at getting into the nooks and crannies around your appliances and are gentler on your gums. The size of the brush, the shape of the handle and other variations are dependent on personal preference.

It is not necessary to use an electric toothbrush but they are safe to use on your appliances. A moderate setting is best to prevent injury to your gums and prevent breaking brackets.

Brush three times a day for a minimum of three to five minutes each time. Brushing after each meal is ideal to assure that food is not trapped on or around the braces. If you are not able to brush, rinse your mouth with water thoroughly until you are able to brush.
Brushing should be done slowly and carefully in a circular motion. Brush above and below the brackets to remove the debris from the brackets, paying special attention to the areas between the brackets. Angling the toothbrush above and below the brackets will massage the gums, stimulating them to minimize swelling.

Floss at least once a day. Flossing may seem impossible with braces but it is a critical part of maintaining good oral hygiene. Special flossing products are available to aid getting into the space between the wires and gumline. Floss threaders and waxed floss will help make flossing manageable.

Tie a piece of floss to the floss threader and place it under the wire between the teeth to be flossed, pull the threader up and floss as usual, then pull the floss completely through the teeth and proceed to the next tooth.

Upon the placement of brackets at your first appointment, a team member of Kieffer Orthodontics will review the brushing and flossing techniques with you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding brushing or flossing at any time during your treatment, please contact our office.