Not everyone is born with a perfect smile. For those who require braces, periodic tightening and other adjustments can be uncomfortable. Children and adults with braces may feel self-conscious at times. An orthodontics office can treat many issues, but it cannot prevent tooth decay, which often is an unconsidered fact of life for those with braces. There is an increased risk of decay unless you take special care during treatment.
Can Braces Cause Tooth Decay?
There is a higher risk of tooth decay with braces because it’s easier for particles and acids from food and beverages to get trapped. It’s also more difficult to clean teeth that are crooked or crowded. Sugar and bacteria create an environment conducive to tooth decay. To make matters worse, there are many points where material can build up, including where the braces attach to the teeth and around the wires.
Tooth decay begins as acids created by bacteria in your mouth attack tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization; it is noticeable as white spots on the surface of teeth. The acids reach the softer dentin in the next stage. Once a cavity forms, you may experience toothaches, pain when chewing, and sensitivity to hot or cold.
The next stage of decay involves the pulp. If a cavity progresses into the pulp, it can cause painful infections and abscesses. Jaw problems can develop if the issue is left untreated.
Tooth decay is preventable even if you have braces. Here are some of the most effective ways to protect yourself during treatment:
Clean Your Teeth After Every Meal
Properly cleaning teeth with braces on is more difficult. At least twice a day, but preferably after every time you eat, rinse your mouth with water to loosen trapped food particles. When you brush, start at the gumline and hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Each brushstroke should be angled downward on the top of each bracket, and then from the bottom side of each bracket while aiming the brush upward.
It’s also important to brush your teeth slowly. Be gentle when you do so; you don’t want to irritate your gums, cause pain, or potentially loosen or break your braces.
Clean between your teeth as well. Flossing with braces is possible with a floss threader, which helps remove debris from in between teeth. You can also use a Waterpik, which helps clean your teeth with jets of water. Rinsing with mouthwash is helpful as well.
Use A Special Toothbrush Meant For Braces
Regular toothbrushes often don’t make the cut for people with braces. An interdental toothbrush, which features Christmas-tree-shaped bristles, is more effective at removing food particles and residue. If you have trouble finding this kind of toothbrush, ask your orthodontist for recommendations or see if they have a more effective brush available.
Avoid Sugary Foods
With braces, it is important to eat responsibly. Sweet, sugary foods increase your chances of developing tooth decay. Sticky foods should also be avoided. Gum, caramel, and candy can get stuck and be very hard to remove. Also, avoid nuts, carrots, apples, corn on the cob, and other hard foods that can damage your braces and potentially prolong treatment.
Try to stick to low-acid, soft foods. Pasta, poultry, bananas, grapes, yogurt, and oatmeal are ideal. If you desperately need to satisfy a sweet tooth, stick to chocolate bars or cookies; the occasional pie or cake is okay too. Just remember to brush thoroughly after you eat.
Get Your Teeth Cleaned Regularly
It’s not only important to stay current with your orthodontist appointments. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings every three to six months. Consult with your dentist for the best cleaning schedule. Depending on the type of braces you have, you may require more frequent teeth cleanings. Your orthodontist can also check for any issues and recommend cleanings as required or spot any cavities or stains that may be forming so you can correct them before more serious problems occur.
By following these steps, you can prevent tooth decay even while being treated with braces. It takes some diligence, but being careful now will pay off later.
Schedule An Appointment With Labbe Family Orthodontics
Providing excellent care for Maryland patients since 1977, our orthodontic offices specialize in various types of braces treatments for children and adults. We are conveniently located in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton/Gambrills, and Greenbelt. For those who prefer or can benefit from alternatives to traditional braces, we offer ceramic braces and clear braces. Our offices are an Invisalign Elite Preferred Provider, as well, and offers accelerated treatment plans with the Acceledent system.
At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we strive to create a warm environment where all patients feel comfortable and trust our capabilities. Dr. Steven Labbe, a graduate of the dental school at Howard University and a member of the American Association of Orthodontics, heads our team of dedicated orthodontic professionals. We offer flexible payment plans and accept most forms of insurance, making our industry-leading expertise and orthodontic care as affordable as possible.
To schedule a complimentary consultation at one of our four locations, contact our offices directly or submit your information online. Also, our business can be reached directly at (410) 267-7300. We can offer advice on the best course of treatment and how to protect your teeth from decay with braces and for long after.