Eating and cleaning with Braces

Cleaning your teeth and gums

The key to healthy teeth and gums is regular cleaning to remove plaque. Plaque is the white soft substance that collects on your teeth, gums, and braces. It is made up of millions of tiny bacteria that release acid and can damage your teeth and gums if left to build up.

Follow these simple instructions and you’ll be off to a great start:

  1. Brush your teeth, gums, and braces three times a day.
  2. Floss once a day.
  3. Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  4. Rinse with mouth wash at least once a day.

Brushing with braces:
First, remove any rubber bands or headgear. Using toothpaste on a soft brush, clean the outside surfaces of your teeth first, then the inside, then the biting surfaces. Use an up- and-down, side-to-side, and round-and-around motion with firm pressure. Clean both the teeth and the gums! When cleaning the gums, press the brush gently against the gum line at a 45-degree angle and massage the gums. This is very important as infected gums (gingivitis) can become swollen and red. Finish by cleaning around your braces. Take care not bend or break any of the brackets or wires. View brushing your braces with the
toothbrush like a train travelling on train tracks, start from one end and finish at the other being sure not to ‘jump’ or miss areas!

Interdental brushes:
Interdental brushes are also known as ‘Christmas tree’ or ‘Bottle’ brushes and are designed to clean in between your braces. They remove plaque and food residue from between your brackets where your toothbrush may have missed. Hold the base and slide the brush behind the arch wire and in between your brackets. Rotate the brush for 5 seconds then move onto the next gap. Use your interdental brush every day. It is especially useful for removing any food between your braces.

Flossing with Braces
It is important to floss because it removes plaque from between your teeth. To floss with braces on, thread a piece of floss into the small gap between your teeth and archwire. This will result in the floss being in the perfect position to floss. Then simply floss (in an up and down motion) between the teeth as per normal. This technique will take some time and effort to master initially, but with practice it will become second nature! We also recommend floss threaders or SuperFloss for cleaning the gums and in between the teeth. Thread the floss underneath the wire and between the teeth, and then gently clean the gum line.

Plaque disclosing tablets
Plaque disclosing tablets are pink tablets that when chewed stick to areas of the mouth that haven’t been cleaned. They highlight areas you’ve missed! Brush your teeth, chew a tablet and swirl it around your mouth, then rinse. The areas that are pink are where your brushing needs to improve. Use a disclosing tablet one week after your braces are fitted, then once a week for the next 3 weeks. After 4 weeks you should have identified any problem areas and mastered your brushing technique! (P.s. the new disclosing gels now leave a purple residue on your teeth to indicate areas of very old plaque that has been on for a long time -be sure to get to these areas!)

Orthodontic wax
When your braces are first fitted they may rub on your cheeks and lips. Overtime, your mouth will get used to this, just like your feet get used to new shoes! The gums and cheeks are quite hardy and will adapt quickly. However, to make it more comfortable initially, use orthodontic wax. Pinch off a small piece of wax and roll it into a ball. Dry the area with a tissue or cotton ball, as the wax will not stick if the area is moist. Press the wax over the irritating bracket or wire to provide immediate relief.

Electric toothbrushes
Electric toothbrushes can have very small heads and fine bristles which are ideal for cleaning around braces. A lot of them also have a timer to make sure you’ve brushed for the recommended 3-4 minutes. Kids love electric toothbrushes, so it may be a great way to make brushing fun and motivate them!

Eating with braces

Eating well and eating healthy is important. It will prevent damage to your braces, and ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy!

Hard foods such as lollies, popcorn, and nuts should be avoided as they can break the brackets and fracture the archwire. Gooey sugary foods such toffees, redskins, and caramels should also be avoided because they may stick to the braces and the sugar can get around and in behind the wire and cause cavities.

Fruit and vegetables such as apples, carrots, corn and celery can be eaten if they are cut into small pieces or grated.

Learn how to modify your foods, by boiling them to soften them, or by cutting them into smaller pieces. Suck, rather than bite into ice cubes/blocks.

Drinks that are acidic and high in sugar can damage your teeth and lead to cavities and white spot lesions. If they are consumed frequently or sipped over extended periods of time, they can do serious damage.

It is recommended that you avoid soft drinks, juice, cordials, and sports drinks. Instead, drink lots of water and milk and chew SUGAR-FREE gum to increase your salvia flow which is your body’s natural defence against tooth decay.