Even if October is the month that brings us Ghosts and Trick or Treaters, it’s also the perfect time to focus on Orthodontic Health – as October is National Orthodontic Health Month. It’s the perfect time to share important information regarding orthodontic treatment and how to take care of your orthodontic braces. Making sure your orthodontic braces and appliances stay clean not only impacts your oral health but also contributes to the movement of teeth during orthodontic treatment.
Why is good oral hygiene with braces so important? Food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce a bleaching effect, which can cause small, permanent light spots on the teeth.
How should teeth and braces be cleaned? You should brush after every meal and use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss (available at drug stores) at least once a day to clean between braces and under wires. Check your teeth in a mirror to make sure all food particles are gone. If you don’t have your toothbrush with you, rinse your mouth vigorously with water.
What food should be avoided? Keep in mind that while wearing braces, you need to be mindful that some foods can loosen, bend, or break your orthodontic appliances. The following foods should be avoided: hard, sticky candy, corn on the cob, popcorn, nuts, and hard foods like taco shells and chips. Chewing gum and ice can also cause problems. Cutting hard foods like raw carrots and apples into small bites prevents damage.
Hard foods are another no-no. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.
What can you eat? When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.
During the Halloween season, brushing and flossing your teeth is even more important due to the fact that teeth usually receive more exposure to sweets and sugars that can cause cavities. During this month of sticky, crunchy, hard, chewy and sweet treats it’s important to remember keep your orthodontic braces and appliances clean! You may think that not brushing might not have an effect, but it does! Teeth and braces that are covered in plaque and sticky residues cause increased inflammation in the mouth which makes it harder for teeth to move!