As a dental clinic that offers orthodontic care in Kelowna, we often receive questions about how braces or aligners can affect dental care and hygiene. Those with braces or aligners generally need to pay more attention and spend more time on their oral hygiene, so that they can really enjoy that new smile once the orthodontic treatment is complete!
Those with braces will notice that food can become impacted into the brackets and around the wires, making it especially important to practice thorough hygiene.
If you use aligners, such as Invisalign, you’ll want to offer your smile a little extra TLC to keep it bright and healthy. Because aligners can be removed, brushing and flossing is a lot easier. However, aligners fully cover the teeth the majority of the time, creating the perfect conditions for bacteria and plaque.
Brush frequently and properly.
While the general rule of thumb is to brush our teeth twice a day, those with braces should try to brush after every meal and before bed. Brush from above and below the wires at a 45 degree angle to loosen any food particles, bacteria or plaque that could be stuck in the braces. If brushing isn’t an option, rinse with water after eating to loosen up food particles as much as possible.
Our tongue and saliva act as natural cleaners for our teeth, but aligners limit this process. Because food particles and bacteria can easily become trapped under the aligner, it’s important to make an effort to brush and rinse thoroughly after each meal before putting the aligner back in, and of course in the morning and before bed. Make sure you remember to brush your aligners as well.
Don’t forget to floss.
Because flossing is typically more challenging for those with braces, it can sometimes fall by the wayside. However, it’s especially important that those with braces make flossing part of their daily routine as plaque can build beneath the wires and brackets, which can lead to gum disease, bone disease, and cavities if not treated properly.
For those with aligners, flossing is especially important because particles that become stuck between the teeth are unlikely to get unstuck any other way. Not only that, but aligners can fast-track the bacteria growing process, so be sure to floss every day.
Use specialized tools.
This is an especially helpful tip for those with braces. Luckily, there are tools that can be purchased to make brushing and flossing with braces a lot easier. A ‘waterflosser’, such as the Waterpik, does a brilliant job of cleaning tough-to-reach areas prior to brushing with the use of water pressure. Interdental brushes and floss threaders are also extremely handy, helping to clean between and under wires and brackets.
Aligners should also be kept clean. Be sure to follow the cleaning instructions for your specific aligner.
Have frequent professional cleanings.
It is often recommended that those with braces or aligners frequent the dentist for cleanings twice as often as a patient without braces — roughly every 3 months.
Because our teeth shift over time, retainers are used to maintain the results of the orthodontic treatment long-term. There are two primary types of retainers — removable or permanent.
Removable retainers are to be worn 24/7 for three months after the orthodontic treatment, except when eating or cleaning the teeth. After three months, the retainer is typically only required at night.
Retainers should be cleaned daily as they can collect bacteria. Follow the cleaning instructions for your specific retainer for the best results.
Permanent retainers are typically bonded to the back of the front teeth, and cannot be removed. They may be fixed for months or even years, so it’s important to keep them nice and clean, just like your teeth.
Be sure to floss under the retainer or continue to use specialized tools such as a Waterpik to keep the retainer and connecting teeth clear of bacteria and plaque.
Post-orthodontics dental check ups
A dental check up is typically required roughly six months after the orthodontic treatment to check on the results. Your dentist will likely want to schedule one or two check up visits per year to perform orthodontic exams, on top of regular hygiene visits.
If you have questions regarding orthodontics in Kelowna, contact Kelowna Dental Solutions. We are always accepting new patients and would be happy to give you an orthodontic assessment or answer any questions that you may have.