It’s normal to have a lot of questions when you’re new to having braces; after all, they’re a major commitment! Taking good care of your braces will greatly improve your experience and lead to the best results. Here’s what you need to know.
Proper oral hygiene is important for everyone, but it’s even more essential when you have braces. That means brushing at least twice a day, ideally after every meal. If you can’t brush after each meal, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to dislodge food particles that may be stuck in your braces.
Braces give bacteria extra places to hide, so be sure to clean around the wires and each individual bracket to avoid plaque accumulation. You don’t need to brush any harder than usual when you have braces – in fact, being too rough can break the wires or brackets, so it’s best to be gentle.
For efficient cleaning, use an electric toothbrush; they often come with special attachments that are designed for use with braces. If you prefer a manual toothbrush, choose an orthodontic style. Keep in mind that braces cause extra wear and tear on your toothbrush, so it will likely need to be replaced more often.
Flossing with braces can take some getting used to, but it’s not impossible. If using string floss, opt for the waxed variety; it’s much easier to maneuver around the wires and is less likely to get snagged than unwaxed floss. You can also try a water flosser or interdental brushes.
It’s important to follow your brushing and flossing routine with mouthwash to eliminate any missed bacteria. Mouthwash has the additional benefit of soothing and protecting your gums, which is especially helpful if your gums become sensitive or inflamed while adjusting to your braces.
Avoiding certain foods is a necessary part of life with braces. Hard and crunchy foods, like raw apples and carrots, should be cut into small pieces and eaten with care. Popcorn, chips, and nuts (including crunchy peanut butter) can also damage your braces and should be avoided. And be sure not to chew on non-food objects like ice or pens.
Chewy and sticky foods like caramels, gum, and even dried fruit can get stuck or cause damage to your braces as well, so it’s best to skip these foods. On that note, aim to limit sugary snacks and drinks in general; too much sugar can easily lead to plaque build-up and cavities.
Braces do require some special care and attention, but it’s hard to deny that the results are worth it!