Dental Care for Braces Patients

Keeping up with your routine dental exams and teeth cleanings is always important.

Because National Children’s Dental Health Month is right around the corner- it’s observed each February- and many of our younger patients are in orthodontic treatment, we’re sharing information on why these routine dental visits are particularly important if you have braces.

Crowded, crooked teeth create areas in which food can get stuck. Over time, plaque and tartar can build in these areas and this can lead to more serious issues including tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated, says Henderson NV dentist Dr. Heeyup Ghim. Orthodontic treatment is great at combatting this, because teeth that are in alignment are easier to brush and floss.

“However, it’s important for patients with metal or ceramic brackets to remember that while they’re in treatment, these appliances can create additional areas in which food particles and bacteria can hang out,” Dr. Ghim says. “The importance of maintaining a good dental hygiene regime becomes even more important during the treatment process.”

It typically isn’t necessary for you to visit our office more frequently when you have braces, but you definitely need to be sure you keep your regular dental appointments, which are typically every six months. At these appointments, we can remove any plaque and tartar that may have formed around your brackets. If we see buildup in particular areas, we can show you some tips on how to brush and floss to prevent it from recurring.

Patients in orthodontic treatment often need a few extra tools in their oral hygiene kit, due to the propensity for food to get lodged in and around appliances. Your orthodontist probably has given you a stash of supplies, but if not, the following items are recommended to have on hand:

  • An electric toothbrush- sonic toothbrushes are excellent at cleaning around orthodontic appliances and dislodging food particles.
  • Floss threaders- this helps you fish dental floss through your appliances so you can effectively floss between teeth.
  • Soft picks- these tiny, flexible and pointy picks can help you dislodge food stuck in your appliances and between teeth after meals when you’re unable to brush.
  • Interdental brushes- these resemble small bottle brushes and can be straight or curved. They’re another great tool for cleaning food from around your orthodontic appliances.

Keeping your teeth healthy is our reason for recommending that you maintain your dental appointments and keep a supply of dental health tools handy. But how about another incentive: keeping your teeth healthy can mean the difference between completing your orthodontic treatment on schedule, or having to wear your braces even longer than originally prescribed.

“It’s a fact that healthy teeth are easier to shift into alignment,” says Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth, an orthodontist in Minneapolis who stresses the importance of dental health to her patients.

When you don’t take care of your teeth and maintain a regular professional cleaning schedule, you increase your chances of plaque buildup and tartar formation. If plaque and tartar are left to accumulate on the teeth, it can begin to irritate the gums and lead to gingivitis. This is a condition where your gums become red and swollen, and they can begin to bleed easily.

“When this happens, it becomes more difficult to shift the teeth properly during orthodontic treatment,” Dr. Eisenhuth says.

Teeth don’t move as easily when your orthodontist must battle gum inflammation.

You can further destroy your treatment schedule if you get a cavity during orthodontic treatment.

“It’s possible to get a cavity in an area that necessitates the removal of one or more brackets or bands before we can fill it properly,” Dr. Ghim says. “This will result in lost treatment time.”

If this situation occurs, you may have to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to have the necessary appliances removed. Then you’ll have to come back to our office to have the cavity filled. Finally, you’ll need a repeat visit with your orthodontist to have your appliances replaced.

“All of the time while your appliances are removed is time in which you’re not in active orthodontic treatment, and that means you lose some treatment momentum,” he says.

So do yourself a favor: if you want to get ideal results from your orthodontic treatment and take measures to ensure you finish treatment on time, make dental hygiene a priority.