If you're undergoing teeth straightening treatment with fixed braces, you'll probably be paying closer attention to your teeth than you normally would. And while you might be pleased that your teeth are gradually getting straighter, you might also notice that they are also becoming less white and visibly dirtier. It's not your imagination, but it's not entirely your fault – cleaning your teeth does become much harder when you have a brace getting in the way.
Here are our tips for preventing bacterial biofilm and plaque – the accumulation of which will not only make your teeth look dirty but can lead to gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums), decalcification and other forms of periodontal disease.
1. Brush after every meal The network of wires and plastic in your braces will trap any small pieces of food and associated bacteria next to your teeth, so it's essential that you brush every time you've eaten, even if it's just a snack. Ideally, you'll be brushing for a few minutes, four times a day. Try using an interspace brush to clean areas that are more difficult to reach along with an orthodontic toothpaste that's more viscous than normal toothpaste.
2. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush It can be hard to reach all the nooks and crannies in your fixed braces when brushing. If you are finding it tricky, then it might be worth buying an electric toothbrush. Recommended by many dentists for everyone – not just those with braces – many of these toothbrushes not only offer a timer to ensure you're brushing for long enough, they twist and rotate automatically to give an effective clean. Some electric toothbrushes even come with attachments specifically designed for use with braces.
3. Be proactive against plaque As an aid to brushing and cleaning, many brace wearers find disclosing tablets or solutions useful. Such formulas colour regions of plaque build-up with a temporary red stain. This can be helpful for spotting the areas of your mouth which are not getting enough attention from your toothbrush. Try using these once a week and you should notice that things start to improve as you brush more carefully. It's also worth using specialised mouthwash after brushing to ensure that your mouth is left free of plaque-causing bacteria.
4. Think about your diet Your orthodontist will probably already have told you this, but there are some foods that will do no good for you and your braces. Not only do hard and sticky foods have the potential to damage your braces, but food and drink with a high sugar content, such as fizzy soft drinks, sweets and chocolate are a definite no-no throughout your orthodontic treatment as they will damage the enamel.