Successful orthodontic treatment is a team effort between you, Dr. Shaver and your family dentist. We all share the same goal – for you to have a sensational, healthy smile with beautiful, straight, white teeth.
We strongly recommend that you closely follow the oral hygiene instructions provided to you during your initial treatment. These instructions are detailed below for quick an easy reference throughout your treatment.
When you wear braces, it's very important to carefully brush, floss and thoroughly rinse your mouth after you eat anything — or at least four times a day (after you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and before you go to bed). That's because braces, wires, bands and even retainers all trap food particles that can cause plaque (say: plak) to build up on your teeth.
Plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. As plaque increases, it becomes gooey white stuff – you can see it and sometimes feel it on your teeth (they feel kind of "fuzzy"). Bacteria ("Sugar Bugs & Starch Slugs") live in the plaque. Whenever you eat, the sugars and starches in your food cause the bacteria to produce damaging acids that attack your tooth enamel and gums. With time and repeated acid attacks the tooth enamel breaks down, causing cavities, permanent marks and stains on teeth. Plaque build-up also causes bad breath and gum disease.
To make sure none of these things happen to your smile, make a habit of brushing and flossing after you eat anything. If you can't brush, at least swish your mouth with water. Swishing with water will help clear your braces of large food particles until you can brush.
Keep your smile healthy. Remember to brush and floss throughout the day whenever you eat anything, and swish when you can't brush!
Brushing Techniques with Braces
Dr. Shaver recommends that you use a soft bristled toothbrush using moderate force and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Place the toothbrush at an angle so that you feel the bristles under your gum line and use small circular motions. Completely clean each surface of each tooth in your mouth, including the areas above, below and between each brace. The surface of every tooth should be scrubbed with about 10 strokes of the toothbrush. Brush every tooth slowly. Brush the upper teeth down. Brush the lower teeth up. Also brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. This should take 2-3 minutes – or about the length of an average song.
You should be brushing at least four times per day:
That means your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.
Remember: Your toothbrush might not reach the areas under the archwire properly. Proper oral hygiene also involves flossing and the use of an interdental toothbrush (Proxabrush), an antiseptic mouth rinse (Peroxyl) and a topical fluoride (NutraCare).
Flossing with Superfloss
Dental floss is a nylon thread that is used to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Flossing is more difficult when you have braces on your teeth, but it's more important than ever!
A piece of Superfloss has three parts:
Step 1: Pass the stiff, straight end of the floss under the wire between two teeth.
Step 2: Sneak the normal floss end carefully through the contact between the two teeth and pass up and down in a
C-shape against each tooth.
Repeat both steps for every tooth in your mouth. You should floss after you eat anything or at least once a day. Always rinse your mouth with water after brushing and flossing.
Dr. Shaver will provide you with a reusable Floss Threader. Use a piece of dental floss about 12 inches long. Use the floss threader to get the floss under the wire. Slide the floss up and down along the tooth surface. When the tooth is clean, the floss will "squeak" as you slide it up and down along the tooth surface. Be very careful to not pull with too much force on your archwire.
Flossing is important and, remember, it should be done every day. The best time to floss is before bedtime after brushing to remove the plaque missed by brushing. This process will take more time than flossing without braces. If your gums are not healthy, they may bleed the first few days you floss.
Here's what to do:
Repeat these steps for every tooth in your mouth. You should floss at least once per day – always rinse your mouth with water after brushing and flossing. Remember, consistent brushing and flossing will result in a sensational smile!
Brushing with a Proxabrush
A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. It will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. It can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.
NeutraCare is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay while you are wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of NeutraCare does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your daily schedule at bedtime. Place a small strip of Neutra-care on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out. You may not eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use NeutraCare. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.
Brush your removable appliance every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance three (3) times a week. Dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance once every day. Your appliance will taste better, and it will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.