Here’s How to Take Care of Them
Published: September 1, 2022
By: Carol Muse Evans
Adults and children of all ages are straightening their teeth and getting braces to improve their oral health and smiles.
So, what do you do to take care of them?
“For orthodontic treatment to be successful, the orthodontist, patient and parent or guardian have to work as a team,” says Olga M. Sanchez-Hernandez D.M.D., M.S., M.S. of McCalla Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. “Every team member has specific duties to perform to achieve a common goal in a timely manner and achieve the best treatment possible.
“The patient plays an essential role by being in charge of maintenance and cleanliness of the appliances and following the instructions given so the treatment can be completed in a timely manner,” she adds.
One of the first things to do is think before you eat, says Jeanine Hanson, practice manager for PT Orthodontics in Birmingham. Certain foods can be more likely to cause tooth decay and other dental problems with braces. “Try hard to avoid any sticky, hard or sugary food to keep your braces intact and maintain better hygiene,” Hanson adds.
Alicia Talley-Rodriguez, business manager for Vital Smiles in Birmingham, says brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each morning and night, maybe even more frequently when possible, and using a tooth-by-tooth brushing technique, as demonstrated by your orthodontist, is important. Flossing regularly between each tooth, as well as using a Water Pik to remove stubborn food debris is helpful, along with rinsing thoroughly with mouthwash.
“Always take a look in the mirror to ensure all areas have been thoroughly cleaned,” Talley-Rodriguez adds.
“Water jets help remove gross debris off braces, expanders and other appliances,” adds Sanchez-Hernandez. “Fluoride is excellent for strengthening the enamel and restoring calcifications.”
Invisalign appliances and retainers need to be removed to eat, drink and brush your teeth, Sanchez-Hernandez says. “Wax can temporarily cover spots irritating your braces until you can see your orthodontist, she says.
“Be sure to report loose or bent wires and brackets,” Hanson says. It’s not uncommon for these to become loose and maybe irritate the inside of your mouth. And don’t skip follow up appointments.
It is also important NOT to put things in your mouth that can break your braces, Sanchez-Hernandez says. This can include plastic bottle caps, straws, pens and pencils and paper clips.
Talley-Rodriguez reminds parents that every child should have a screening and consultation with an orthodontist no later than age 7, even if no orthodontic problems are visible. “By this age your child has enough permanent teeth for the orthodontist to evaluate the developing teeth and jaw, and orthodontists can spot small issues in young children before they become more serious problems.”
For a list of foods to avoid, check out PT Ortho’s blog at ptortho.com/foods-to-avoid/.
Carol Muse Evans is publisher of Birmingham Parent.