Orthodontic appliances (braces, fixed retainers, biteplates, etc.) can create oral health problems such as gingivitis and decalcification (white marks), which lead to more serious issues.
Gingivitis is the earliest sign of gum disease. It appears as red, swollen, and shiny gums that bleed easily. It is caused by plaque that irritates the gum tissue and causes an infection.
Decalcification affects your tooth enamel, causing white spots or lesions on your teeth. These spots are caused by plaque being allowed to stay on the teeth for a long period of time. Decalcification is impossible to correct, but it can be prevented.
Orthodontic appliances create many tiny recesses that toothbrushes and other cleaning aids have difficulty reaching. To prevent gingivitis or decalcification, these areas should be kept free of plaque and food debris. You can minimize or prevent problems caused by orthodontic appliances by practicing good oral hygiene.
- Watch what you eat/drink - Avoid food and drinks that contain acid and sugar (especially drinks like soda, lemonade, sweet tea, and sports drinks).
- Brush - When brushing your teeth, try to pay special attention to those areas that are obstructed by brackets, wires, or other orthodontic devices. Ideally, you should brush after every meal or snack. If you can’t brush right away, rinse your mouth well with water. Watch your toothbrush head for wear from the brackets and other hardware and replace it often.
- Floss - Even the most thorough brushing can't remove all of the plaque. You also need to floss to remove the plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach. A floss threader is one method for flossing with braces.
- Oral irrigation - An easy and effective way to remove plaque around orthodontic appliances and improve gum health is to use a Hydro Floss® with a Sulcus tip. Oral irrigation devices reach hard-to-clean areas to remove food and other debris. Pulsating jets of water very gently lift the free gingiva to rinse out crevices. The water irrigator also pulses into areas between teeth and gums to flush out trapped food and debris. Oral irrigation is clinically proven more effective than dental floss for people with orthodontic appliances.