All patients absolutely, positively MUST continue to see their general dentist AT LEAST every 6 months throughout the duration of orthodontic treatment. Since the orthodontist does not check for cavities, provide periodic cleanings or fluoride applications, a general dentist must perform these important maintenance procedures.
One of the most important things for an orthodontic patient to remember is that proper tooth brushing is an absolute requirement for successful treatment. Food particles and plaque can accumulate on and around the teeth more quickly when braces are on the teeth. Improper brushing can lead to disastrous consequences such as swollen gums, bleeding gums, permanent loss of gum tissue, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, cavities and permanent staining & discoloration of the teeth. Prolonged neglect of the teeth while in braces can quickly lead to the need for costly dental procedures such as fillings, root canal therapy, and gum surgery. The cleanliness of your teeth will be evaluated at each appointment. If poor oral hygiene is noted at several consecutive appointments, the orthodontist reserves the right to temporarily remove the braces until oral hygiene is improved. This will cause the total treatment time to be extended, and a rebonding fee will be assessed when the braces are placed again.
A staff member will teach you the proper way to brush teeth with braces on the day that your braces are placed. You will also be given a starter kit containing the items you’ll need to keep everything clean. Here are a few points to remember:
- Brushing with braces takes much longer than without braces.
- A common mistake is that some teeth are skipped when brushing. A good habit to learn is to start brushing the last tooth on one side of the mouth. Then move to the next tooth, one at a time, until you make it all the way around to the other side of the mouth. Do this on the outside surfaces of the teeth, then repeat the procedure on the inside surfaces of the teeth and finally on the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Turn your wrist so that the tips of the bristles of the toothbrush reach into the crevice where the gums meet the teeth. Also, position the brush so that the bristles pass under the wire that connects the braces.
- Use floss threaders (provided in your starter kit and available at most pharmacies) to floss between the teeth.
- Electrically powered toothbrushes can be helpful, but they still must be used correctly.
- You should brush in the morning, after every meal, and before going to sleep.
- Supplemental fluoride rinses and pastes can be helpful but these products do must be used in addition to brushing, not as an alternative to brushing.
- If you are unable to brush your teeth while away from home it can be helpful to “swish and swallow” with water after eating (especially food with lots of sugar) to clear the mouth of residual food particles.