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Practicing good oral hygiene is vital to maintaining a healthy mouth, with or without braces. Good cleaning habits are even more important with braces as food particles accumulate around them. Failure to keeping your teeth clean during orthodontic treatment can result in swollen gums and gum disease, decalcification (permanent white spots), and cavities. Here are some brushing tips and oral hygiene instructions from VanderWall Orthodontics to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy during braces treatment.

1. Make sure you spend enough time to do a thorough job. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes and that is WITHOUT braces. You should spend at least that amount of time brushing your teeth with braces and don’t forget to look in the mirror to see if you missed any areas. Remember, when it comes to brushing, quality (effective cleaning) is more important than quantity (time spent brushing). And make sure you concentrate on the area between the braces and the gums where food/plaque tend to accumulate.

2. Be prepared to brush after every meal. That means taking time at school or work to brush after lunch and snacks. Always keep a travel toothbrush and paste in your school bag, purse, or computer bag.

3. Use dental floss regularly. Food becomes trapped between teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. There are aids to help making flossing easier with braces. Floss threaders and Superfloss® help you get the floss under the wire and are easy to learn to use. You can also use interdental brushes and a Waterpik® to help remove food from between the teeth, but they don’t replace regular flossing.

4. Using an over-the-counter fluoride rinse before bed is beneficial in making the teeth more resistant to cavities and helping prevent decalcification. Options found at the drugstore include ACT® fluoride rinse and Phos-Flur®.

5. Regular dental cleanings and checkups are still very important while wearing braces. Good daily home care should help prevent plaque and tartar build-up, but you still need to visit your dentist for checkups and professional cleanings every 6-months while in treatment.

Please let a VanderWall Orthodontics Team Member know if you have questions about maintaining healthy teeth and gums during your time in braces.

Dr. Clay VanderWall

Author Dr. Clay VanderWall

Dr. VanderWall attended Kalamazoo College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences. He spent a semester doing research at the Dental Research Center of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he wrote his Senior Individualized Project (SIP). He furthered his studies at the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Dentistry, receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1999. He graduated with honors and was inducted into the national dental honor society, Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU). He also received the Pierre Fauchard Academy Student Award and was a recipient of the Health Professions Scholarship from the United States Navy.

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