It is easy to stop caring for your teeth and gums when you have braces. After all, the wires, brackets, and rubber bands can make brushing and flossing difficult, but it must be done as your risk of gum problems and tooth decay have dramatically increased with the placement of your braces.
Now, more than ever, it is important to take care of your teeth and gums. That is because braces create small nooks and crannies where food can get trapped and plaque can build up. If food is left stuck in the braces or plaque builds up too much, it can cause everything from inflamed and bleeding gums to extreme pain and damage to the enamel on your teeth.
Learning how to properly care for your gums can make wearing braces easier and less painful. The following are some helpful tips for how to best care for your gums while wearing braces.
Use the Proper Equipment to Clean and Care for Your Teeth and Gums with Braces
Some of the tools you will use to clean and care for your teeth and gums will be the same as what you used before you had braces. However, some of the items will be different.
The tools and equipment you will use when you have braces include:
- Soft-bristled toothbrush
- Waxed dental floss or special dental floss just for braces
- Orthodontic floss threader
If you wish, you could purchase a water flosser. This is a special piece of dental equipment that forces water out through a tiny spout. The water is forced out with such force that it can remove food that is stuck in your braces and plaque that has built up.
Properly Brush Your Teeth When Wearing Braces
When you have braces, you will be brushing your teeth differently than when you didn’t have braces. You will still use the same type of toothbrush and brush as often as you did without braces, but the way you brush will be completely different.
To properly brush your teeth with braces, do the following:
- Place the brush end against your teeth and hold the handle so it is parallel to the floor
- Use small, circular motions to move the brush. Make sure to move the brush slowly from tooth to tooth and follow the shape or curve of your teeth and gums.
- Spend time cleaning each and every tooth. It should take several seconds to properly clean each tooth
- Brush all sides of the teeth include the top, insides, back, and behind your back teeth
- Brush your tongue
- Brush and clean your brackets. This can be done by slightly angling the toothbrush against the bracket and slowly brushing.
- Brush underneath the wires
Properly Floss Your Teeth
Flossing your teeth will help remove food particles that have gotten stuck around your braces. These food particles can cause irritation to your gums and even progress into gingivitis.
Flossing, just like brushing, is different when you have braces. Proper flossing with braces includes the following steps:
- Place the floss under the wire. This will be right above the space created by your two teeth
- Thread the floss through until it is at the halfway mark on the floss
- Gently and carefully slide the floss in an up and down motion.
- Floss until you hear a squeaking sound then move on to the next area
- Shape the floss into a C shape and gently floss the gum lines. Make sure to get the floss in the areas below the gun line
- Don’t apply too much pressure while flossing with braces
Gargle and Rinse With Warm Salt Water
Gargling and rinsing with warm salt water can help your gums when you have braces. The warm water and salt have a very soothing effect. The soothing effect can help reduce redness, irritation, or inflammation that is occurring around your gums.
Rinsing with warm salt water can also help remove any food particles that may be left behind. Swooshing the water around your mouth can gently loosen some food particles that have become stuck or lodged between the brackets and wires of your braces.
Wearing braces is never a pain-free experience, but regular and proper brushing and flossing, as well as gargling with salt water can dramatically cut down on any irritation, gum swelling, or problems you may experience. Make oral hygiene a priority while wearing braces and you will be more comfortable.