Embarking on an orthodontic journey with braces or Invisalign aligners promises a straighter, healthier smile. However, to ensure the success and comfort of this journey, it’s crucial to maintain these orthodontic appliances so braces & Invisalign remain as invisible & odour-free as possible. A successful and comfortable orthodontic journey requires a dedicated oral hygiene routine tailored to the specific needs of braces or Invisalign. With the proper care and attention, not only can you keep these appliances clean and less noticeable, but you also contribute significantly to your overall oral health.
This article aims to provide comprehensive and practical practices for maintaining your braces or Invisalign, ensuring they function effectively while remaining aesthetically pleasing and hygienic throughout your treatment.
It is advisable to brush after every meal and snack. If that’s not possible, rinse your mouth with water after eating and brush as soon as you can. You must brush at least twice a day, with one being before bed.
When brushing, use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an orthodontic brush. You should brush above and below each bracket and wire and along the gum line. After brushing with a toothbrush, use an interdental brush to clean between brackets, especially where regular brushes might not reach effectively. Be gentle to avoid damaging the wires and brackets. To ensure you get all the spots, spend at least 5 minutes brushing.
Brush with toothpaste to prevent odour and maintain a fresh, minty breath. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended as it helps in preventing cavities and keeping the enamel strong. Fluoride fortifies tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and sugars in the mouth, which are the primary causes of cavities. Fluoride also aids in remineralizing areas where potential decay has started, reversing early signs of tooth decay. Additionally, fluoride can help mitigate tooth sensitivity.
However, excessive fluoride toothpaste can lead to dental fluorosis, which causes changes in tooth enamel, ranging from mild discolouration to more noticeable brown stains or pitting. Fluorosis typically affects children under eight whose permanent teeth are still developing. Thus, it’s crucial to use fluoride toothpaste as directed, especially ensuring that children use only a pea-sized amount and are taught not to swallow it during brushing.
Floss at least once a day using orthodontic flossers designed for braces. These flossers make it easier for the floss to go underneath the wire while flossing. Flossing helps to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and braces where brushes can’t reach. Start by flossing the front teeth every day. Alternate between the upper and lower jaw so it does not get too overwhelming. Floss the whole mouth when you get the hang of it.
Rinse with Mouthwash:
Rinse daily with antibacterial mouthwash to reduce bacterial plaque and keep your mouth fresh. You can also use fluoride mouthwash to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decalcification.
Avoid Certain Foods:
It is best to follow the diet rules to keep your braces intact. Steer clear of sticky, chewy, and hard foods like bubble tea, pearls, caramel, nuts, and popcorn that can get stuck or damage braces. Also, reduce sugary and starchy foods that can lead to plaque buildup and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Avoid foods and drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine, which can stain and change the colours of the elastics on your braces.
Regular Dental Check-ups:
Schedule regular visits to your orthodontist for adjustments and listen to their advice on caring for your braces. It is optimal to visit a dentist or hygienist every three months for cleaning while on braces treatment. Regular visits to a dentist for check-ups are also crucial for good oral health.
Clean the Aligners Regularly:
Brush the aligners whenever you take them out to brush your teeth in the morning and at night. Brush the aligners gently and meticulously with a soft bristle toothbrush to remove dental plaque and keep them fresh.
Avoid Eating or Drinking with Aligners on:
Except for drinking water, remove your aligners when eating or drinking. Many foods and drinks, especially those that are coloured or acidic (like coffee, tea, red wine, and soft drinks), can stain your aligners. Stains can make the aligners more noticeable and less aesthetically pleasing.
Eating with aligners can trap food particles and sugars between the teeth and the aligner. The closed and moist area between the aligners and teeth, coupled with sugar acting as a food source, provides a conducive environment for bacterial growth, which increases the risk of cavities and gum disease. Bacterial growth in the mouth can also lead to bad breath.
Therefore, it is a good habit to rinse your mouth with water after eating before reinserting your aligners. Also, rinse after drinking anything other than water. This practice helps to clear any remaining food particles.
When you remove your aligners, rinse them with cool or lukewarm water. Rinsing helps to remove saliva and plaque that can cause odour. Avoid using hot water, as it can warp the plastic.
Store Them Properly:
When the aligners are not in your mouth, store them in their case. Exposing aligners to open air can allow them to collect dust, bacteria, and other airborne particles. A case helps to maintain cleanliness, ensuring that when you put your aligners back in your mouth, they are free from these contaminants.
In conclusion, the key to keeping braces and Invisalign aligners invisible and odour-free lies in diligent and regular care combined with good oral hygiene practices.
For braces, this includes regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and using mouthwash. Avoiding hard, sticky, or sugary foods also plays a crucial role in keeping braces clean and intact. For Invisalign, the focus is on regularly cleaning and rinsing, avoiding eating while the aligners are in the mouth, and ensuring the aligners are stored in their case when not in use to prevent damage and contamination. Both treatments benefit from regular dental check-ups and a consistent, thorough cleaning routine.
These practices not only ensure the effectiveness of the orthodontic treatment but also contribute to the overall health of the mouth, keeping the orthodontic journey as comfortable and hygienic as possible 🙂