No matter whether you’re a teen or an adult who needs orthodontics, the amount of time you have to wear your braces depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The severity of the problem
- The amount of room available
- The distance the teeth need to shift
- The health of your teeth, gums, and supporting bone
- How closely you follow your orthodontist’s instructions
On average, you can expect your wear time to be 18-24 months. After you get your braces off, you most likely need to wear a retainer full-time for the first six months, then only while you’re sleeping for several years.
Dr. Karen Guinn and our staff here at The Smile Agency, with offices in Downtown Pasadena and West Covina, California, know how important it is to practice good dental hygiene when you have braces, so your teeth and gums remain healthy during treatment.
We’re passionate about educating our patients on proper technique, so we’ve put together this guide for your information. Here’s what you need to know.
Why do you need braces?
The goals of orthodontic treatment are to promote straight teeth and a balanced facial profile. If you have teeth coming in crooked, your teeth are too crowded, or you have gaps between them, braces may be necessary to correct the underlying problems.
Braces aren’t just for teenagers — no one is too old to improve their dental health. In fact, while about 3 million teens currently wear braces, adults account for 20% of all orthodontic treatment.
5 hygiene tips for when you have braces
Here are five top tips for practicing good dental hygiene when you have braces.
1. Brush regularly
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that has a small head to get between the wires and brackets. An electric toothbrush may also be a good option to fully clean the gumline, tooth surfaces, and in and around the brackets.
Plan on brushing 2-4 times a day — after each meal or snack and before going to bed.
2. Brush when you’re away from home
If you’ve eaten something while away from home and don’t have ready access to your toothbrush, use an interdental brush to dislodge any food caught in and around your braces and in the spaces between teeth.
3. Floss every day
Once you’ve brushed your teeth, you need to get between the teeth where the brush can’t reach. You probably need to use a floss threader to get around the hardware. Make sure to go up and down both sides of each tooth, and don’t push too hard, or you could cut your gums.
4. Use an oral irrigator
An irrigator, filled with an antimicrobial agent to help kill plaque biofilm, can help flush out particles from between tight tooth spaces and remove any debris that came out while flossing.
5. Use an anti-cavity fluoride rinse
After you’ve brushed and rinsed your teeth thoroughly to clean them, use a fluoride rinse as another protective barrier against plaque buildup. The fluoride helps remineralize any weak parts on the tooth surface.
In addition to these hygiene tips, you need to watch what you eat so you don’t damage your braces or your teeth. Nutritious foods in a balanced diet create a healthy oral environment. Limit snacks between meals, and make sure to brush if you do grab something.
You also need to avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods like popcorn, taffy, nuts, gum (sugar-free is okay), caramel, and hard candies. They can get stuck in the braces and be difficult to clean out, leading to cavities. They can also lead to breakage of the brackets and wires.
You’ll have plenty of time to eat these things once the braces come off.
Want to learn more hygiene tips, or find out about orthodontic options? Contact Dr. Guinn by calling The Smile Agency office nearest you, or schedule a consultation online today.