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Protecting your healthy smile while wearing braces

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, September 09, 2018

ORTHODONTIC treatment is an important investment in your future. Everyone helping with your orthodontic care wants you to have the best results possible.

While you are wearing braces, it is essential that you take care of your teeth and gums.

 

More care needed during orthodontics

Have a look in the mirror at your new braces. As you see, the brackets and wires have many nooks and crannies that can trap food and plaque. This means your risk of tooth decay and gum problems may be higher while you are wearing braces.

You need to pay special attention to cleaning your teeth every day, and to your diet. Permanent damage to tooth enamel can occur if the teeth and brackets are not kept clean.

Areas on the enamel surface may begin to lose minerals (the early stage of tooth decay), leaving unsightly white spots. You may also develop inflamed, bleeding gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis and the early stages of tooth decay can be reversed by taking extra care with your cleaning and diet. If left untreated, they can lead to bigger problems that will require treatment and have lifelong effects. While you are having orthodontic treatment, you need to continue to have regular check-ups with your family dental professional to ensure little problems don't become big ones.

 

Tooth-friendly diet

Dental professionals are increasingly concerned about acidic foods and drinks that can damage tooth enamel when consumed frequently or when sipped over extended periods of time.

While many high-acid foods are healthy for your body, low-acid foods are better for your teeth. Remember, during orthodontic treatment, it's best to choose low-acid foods when you sit down to eat.

Most of us are well aware that sugary foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay. Starchy foods, such as potato chips, can also stick to teeth for long periods of time and cause tooth decay.

Soda is especially hard on teeth because it not only contains acidic flavour additives but it also includes 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, which further increases your chance of developing cavities. Saliva is your body's natural defence against tooth decay. You need to give saliva plenty of time to wash away acids that form after eating and drinking. A good rule to follow is to limit eating times each day to three meals and two snack times. You can drink plenty of water as often as you like! Be aware that bottled water may not contain fluoride.

 

Care at home

When cleaning your mouth while you are wearing braces, you need to pay special attention not only to your teeth and gums, but also to the brackets and wires.

Here are five simple steps for keeping your teeth, gums and braces in great shape:

1. If your orthodontist has fitted you with elastics, remove them before brushing.

2. Using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, compact toothbrush, place your brush at an angle of 45 degrees against the gums. Gently brush along the gum line where the gums and teeth meet, using a small circular motion on each tooth.

3. Spend about 10 seconds on each tooth before moving onto the next tooth, brushing in a set pattern so that you don't miss any teeth.

4. Gently brush the braces. Press your toothbrush firmly enough so that the bristles spread into the gaps between the wire and the tooth. Brush in and around all of the brackets and wires. Ensure that you brush under the wires. A battery powered brush may be helpful.

5. Brush both the inside and the outside surfaces of your teeth, using a gentle circular motion on each tooth.

 

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.