For patients who wear braces, oral hygiene is extremely important. Food and plaque can become stuck not only between the teeth, but between the small spaces where braces and wires attach. In order to maintain healthy teeth, clean appliances, and fresh breath, the patient's mouth should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, preferably after every meal. Dental hygiene at bedtime is essential.
Eating with Braces
Patients with braces can eat nourishing and enjoyable foods, but sweets, soda and other sugary foods should be avoided as much as possible. Particularly damaging are foods that are sticky or chewy, such as taffy, dried fruits and caramel, since these can adhere to the braces, and be difficult to remove.
In order to maintain the integrity of the wires on the front teeth, patients with braces should avoid biting and chewing hard candies, nuts, popcorn and other inflexible foods that may cause their dental appliances to loosen or break. For the same reason, crunchy fruits and vegetables should be cut into small pieces before being ingested, and ice should not be chewed.
Dental Hygiene with Braces
Removing food particles is particularly important for patients with braces. To avoid tooth decay and enamel stains, as well as the permanent light spots that may result from the reaction of bacteria with metal, teeth should be carefully brushed on all surfaces.
Special orthodontic floss should also be used at least once a day to clean the spaces between wires and braces. It is best to check the teeth with a mirror to ensure that no areas have remained untouched. Anti-bacterial mouthwash is also helpful.
At times when a full cleaning is impossible after eating, patients should rinse their mouths vigorously with water.
Preventing Dental Injuries
While everyone should make an effort to protect the teeth during potentially dangerous activities, this is especially necessary for patients wearing braces. There is no reason for patients with braces to avoid participation in sports, but there is every reason for them to wear mouth guards to protect their teeth when engaged in such activities.