The number one thing for a healthy smile is clean teeth. It’s easy when you know how. It’s important that you keep your teeth clean with braces. It’s a little more work, but it’s not complicated.
The Effects of Plaque
When food sits on your teeth for a while, it forms plaque, which is a layer of bacteria and gunk that does the damage – cavities, permanent stains, and puffy, bleeding gums. Plaque takes 24 hours to grow, so when you see plaque, that gunky white stuff on your teeth, you know that it’s been sitting there for at least a day or longer.
Now a lot of people will say “but I brush my teeth – every day – really well!” I believe you totally – well almost totally. The trick is how and WHERE you brush. Before your braces, you may be a so-so toothbrusher and the bristles get to the important places at least some of the time and most of the plaque is taken away.
When you have braces, the plaque can hide and stick around, especially between the brace and the gum line. The glue protects your tooth behind the brace. It’s around the brace by the gum line that’s the problem area. Unless you get the bristles into the right spots regularly, you’re going to leave that plaque behind. And then you can get permanent stains on your teeth that you don’t see or notice until the braces come off. And you get puffy, bleeding gums.
Brushing the Gum Line
With toothbrushing, it’s all about the bottom line – the gum line!
Unless you put the toothbrush bristles right there, right by the gum line, you won’t clean your teeth like you need to. Now this is going to feel weird at first. Everyone brushes the tops of their teeth, the biting surfaces. But it’s the outside of the tooth by the gum line that really counts. That’s at least 80% of cleaning your teeth with braces. Use a soft bristle toothbrush but get in by those gums.
Flossing and some details complete the job, but here’s a little secret: If you’re cleaning well by the gum line every day, it’s really difficult for problems to develop. Your gums will be pink and healthy and stains and cavities won’t happen.
Twice a Day for Two Minutes
Clean by the gum line twice a day – for two minutes, once in the morning and once before you go to bed.
You have to feel those bristles on the gums. You should really think that you’re brushing your gums – not the teeth. You will quickly get used to this new feeling and your gums and your teeth will feel great once they get used to it. Any time your gums bleed, it means to brush more – never less!
Don’t forget to keep seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups during your braces. We’re working on straightening your teeth and you need your dentist to watch out for other things and regular teeth cleaning can be done with braces. We can arrange to remove the wires to make it easier for your dentist and hygienist for those professional cleanings.