One of the challenges we deal with during orthodontic treatment is maintaining excellent oral hygiene. This is a challenge for a couple of reasons. First, many of our patients are young and still struggle with the necessary motor skills necessary to be truly effective at achieving great hygiene. And second, whether using braces or aligners, while in orthodontic treatment, there are often more places for plaque and bacteria to hide out which means that getting a good result from brushing might take a little more time and effort than usual. Why is this so important? Poor hygiene can lead to cavities and gum disease, or white spot lesions. Not familiar? Here's a picture of white spots that were seen on someone's teeth after braces were removed:
So what should we do about this? Well, the best defense is a good offense! In other words, I'm saying that prevention is key. White spots are difficult to treat once they've occurred, so avoiding them in the first place is your best bet. Here are some tips for avoiding white spots!
- Parents should help, especially for very young patients. I meet lots of parents who are eager to put all the responsibility for brushing in their child's hands. In some cases, however, the child isn't interested in being compliant, or doesn't yet have the necessary skills to do a good job. In these cases, it's important to remember that as the parent, it will be your responsibility to monitor their brushing and flossing routines and help them if needed.
- Avoid excessive sugary foods and drinks. Sugar contributes to plaque and bacteria formation on the surface of the teeth. It's ok to enjoy as a treat here and there, but you should avoid consuming sugar continuously throughout the day, and you should always brush (or rinse with water if you can't brush right away) after enjoying sugary treats.
- Try using the special toothbrush we offer when you start braces! We use a special toothbrush when starting treatment with braces. It's specially designed to make it easier to brush under the wires and around the brackets so that you can be more effective at removing plaque.
- Watch for bleeding or puffy gums. These can be indications of inflammation which often means that brushing and flossing aren't being done effectively enough. If you're trying your hardest and still seeing results like this, please let us know. We'd be happy to review instructions as many times as you need us to!
- A Waterpik might be your new best friend. Waterpiks are gaining increasing popularity for good reason. They're fun for kids, and they do a great job of irrigating in hard to reach places!
- Feel free to ask for feedback on your brushing. We are here to help you. If you aren't sure how you're doing, let us know! We'll be happy to check and point out areas for improvement!
With a little effort, you can finish your braces treatment with beautiful stain-free teeth!! As always, you can find more information on our website at www.sciotobraces.com. Keep smiling, friends! :)