Good Oral Health and Braces: 4 Tips for Maintaining Both

            Which would you rather: straight teeth, or pearly white ones? Sometimes, it can seem like you have to pick one or the other. To have the lovely results of braces, you’ll have to bear with difficult brushing and flossing, yellow stains afterwards, and general trouble maintaining oral health around the metal in your mouth. We would suggest that this is a false dilemma. It is possible to have both excellent oral health and braces at the same time. Through care and attention, you can see lovely, straightened teeth when those braces come have and still have healthy teeth in the meantime. Today, we’ll cover four tips that will set you on your way towards orthodontic success, without succumbing to stains or decay to achieve it.

Say yes to foods that boost your dental health.

Everyone always talks about what not to eat when you have braces on—but no one ever talks about what to eat. Is it possible that some foods are better than others for you while you have braces? The truth is, braces, by their very nature, make it more difficult to clean your teeth. Instead of coating your teeth in sugar when you can’t clean them as well as you otherwise would, opt for nutritional foods that are less likely to hurt your teeth.

If you’re wondering what the best selections might be, you may appreciate the insights of the American Association of Orthodontists. In general, remember that you want to select foods that are high in things like fiber, phosphorous, and calcium. Good options that are less likely to get stuck in your braces include things like eggs, yogurt, and cheese. If you’re feeling unsure, consult with a dentist or nutritionist who can help you craft a unique plan.

Say no (or yes less often) to foods that aren’t so braces-friendly.

Eating a well-balanced diet is a vital part of your oral health and your overall health, and it will make maintaining strong teeth a lot easier. But eating plenty of fiber and calcium is only going to do you so much good if you’re soaking your teeth in sugar, breaking brackets on sticky candy, and snapping your bands at the same time. Don’t mishear us—we aren’t saying you can never eat sugar if you want healthy teeth while you have braces. Everyone loves a sweet treat every now and then, and people with braces are no different. But as you’ve probably heard, certain foods can cause more damage to braces than others. Maintaining oral health while you have braces involves reducing your intake of those foods or strategizing ways to consume them that won’t be quite so hard on your expensive dental equipment.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, foods that are better avoided while wearing braces include: hard or sticky candy, corn on the cob, whole apples, popcorn, nuts, dense breads such as pizza crusts or bagels, pretzels, and ice. Some of these foods, like popcorn, are perhaps best left out of your diet as much as you can while wearing braces. Others, like corn, you may be able to simply eat differently. For instance, with corn, you can simply cut the corn off the cob and eat it with a fork or spoon. If you’ve always loved apples, you don’t have to stop eating them! Just cut them up instead of biting into them whole, so that you don’t risk damage to the hardware you paid so much for.

Make good use of dental tools.

There are plenty of tools out there to help those with braces maintain optimal oral health. Your dentist or orthodontist may recommend some for you when you have your braces put on. A few of the best include:

Your toothbrush, frequently replaced.

Like anyone else, you should be brushing twice a day for two minutes every time. But braces are tough on toothbrushes; don’t be afraid to replace your toothbrush more often than you otherwise would! As soon as the bristles are frayed, it’s time for a new one.

Orthodontic flossers.

Many people find flossing difficult while they have braces, but don’t skip it. Flossing is vital to oral health. Instead, try using orthodontic flossers, which are specifically tailored for those with braces. If you find you prefer normal floss, opt for a waxed variety, which will better withstand the metal of your braces.

A Waterpik.

If you want to be certain you’re getting everything, consider supplementing your flossing routine with a water flosser, like the Waterpik. This instrument shoots jets of water in between your teeth, flushing out particles that may have been too tricky to get with normal floss.

An interproximal brush.

An interproximal brush—also referred to as a proxy brush has a cone-like shape which allows it to slip easily around your brackets and wires, reaching areas that a normal toothbrush might not have been able to.

Don’t skip dental appointments.

Above all, don’t skip dental appointments! As we know, it is difficult to clean teeth thoroughly with braces. This makes your professional cleanings that much more important. Don’t think that just because you have to get your braces adjusted, you don’t need to go to dental checkups—that’s simply not true. Dentists clean your teeth and remove any plaque hardened into tartar. Even if you take excellent care of your dental health, your dentist still has a role to play in identifying any oral health problems that may be lurking under the surface, evading detection. For the sake of your dental and overall health, don’t neglect dental appointments while undergoing braces treatment.

As one wellness article puts it, “Aligning your teeth isn’t an alternative to caring for them—especially since braces introduce a host of factors that could make cleaning harder.” But with care and attention, braces don’t have to mean stained and decayed teeth. If you have questions about oral health, braces, or how best to manage the two together, or if you’d simply like to schedule your next appointment, please contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Our team of dental experts has well over 30 years of combined experience in the field of dentistry. To learn more about them, please visit our team page or stop by the clinic and say hello!