Top Tips For Oral Health During Orthodontic Treatment

Achieving the alignment of your dreams is more than waiting for your orthodontic devices (braces, clear aligners, etc.) to work their magic. It’s a group effort by your appliances, Dr. Sarpotdar or Dr. Sun, their team, and you! That’s right — you! One of the most significant efforts to improve your smile is attending your first orthodontic appointment; another is maintaining good oral health during treatment. If you are unsure how to upkeep your oral health while you are an active treatment, never fear—Icon Orthodontics is here! 

Maintain Your Oral Hygiene With Good Tools.

Brushing and flossing twice a day is an easy, quick way to reduce the bacteria, plaque, and germs in the mouth that cause tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. We recommend making the following upgrades to your daily routine:

  • Invest In A Good Toothbrush. — Overbrushing (brushing with too much pressure or too long) and under-brushing (not brushing long enough) threaten your oral health. Overbrushing strips the protective enamel from your teeth and pushes down your gum line. With insufficient gums and enamel, even the tiniest amount of bacteria can harm your teeth. Under-brushing does the opposite—it leaves behind bacteria and plaque that can eat away at your enamel. We recommend using a toothbrush that has an automatic timer and pressure sensor. 
  • Add A Waterflooser To Your Routine.* — These machines sit on your countertop and use water to rid the mouth of stubborn bacteria, plaque, and food that brushing and traditional thread flossing could miss. The water gets into all the hard-to-reach places caused by overcrowding, jaw joint issues, and fixed orthodontic appliances to keep your mouth clean and breath fresh.
  • Interproximal Brushes.* — Small and portable, interproximal brushes are a cross between floss and toothbrushes and can clean in between the teeth. They are perfect for freshening the breath on the go when you can’t floss, use a water flosser, or brush.  

*These tools should be used in addition to thread flossing, but people with teeth sensitivities or who struggle to use thread floss might be able to make a complete switch to one or both. Consult our orthodontists or your dentist before removing floss from your routine.

Attend Your Dental Appointments!

Even though orthodontists receive dental school training, we are a different kind of oral healthcare provider than dentists. Essentially, your dentist is your oral primary oral healthcare provider, and an orthodontist is a specialist for the specific need of teeth and jaw alignment.

To maintain your oral health, you should attend dental check-ups as often as your dentist recommends (usually every six months). At these appointments, a hygienist will X-ray, professionally clean, and apply fluoride to your teeth and gums. Then, a dentist with thoroughly examine your mouth.

Attending these sessions consistently allows your oral healthcare team to prevent or catch and treat problems like cavities, gum disease, infections, and oral cancer before they can cause permanent issues to your smile.

Your teeth and gums must be healthy before and during treatment for a pain-free experience and beautiful results. When treatment ends, we still encourage you to continue seeing your dentist to maintain your smile’s health and appearance.

Pick The Right Mouthwash And Toothpaste.

We talked about upgrading your oral hygiene tools, and now we must discuss your cleaning products—your mouthwash and toothpaste. The best choices depend on your specific needs, and we are always delighted to provide personalized recommendations at your appointments. However, most, if not all, orthodontic patients should do the following:

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals! — Whether you have braces or wear removable clear aligners, you don’t want your cleaning products to be too acidic! Acid can rust your braces. Harsh chemicals can also cause discoloration to your teeth and clear aligners and braces. 
  • Look For Fluoride! — Fluoride is an element found naturally in the environment that strengthens your enamel and helps to protect the teeth. 
  • Do Not Use Whitening Agents! While white teeth aren’t necessary for your smile to be considered beautiful, we understand they are highly desirable! But when you have bonded appliances, you want to avoid whitening products because your appliances cover parts of your teeth. The whitening products won’t touch some areas. It might look nice during treatment, but your teeth will be more than one color when your appliances are removed! We must stress the importance of waiting until after treatment ends to begin the whitening process.

Eat With Your Treatment In Mind.

Whether you have braces, a fixed retainer, a palatal expander, or some other bonded appliances, you must adjust your diet to accommodate the metal in your mouth. Certain foods and drinks can damage your appliances, causing discoloration or unnecessary pain. 

To help make adjusting your diet less stressful, we’ve put together this list of foods and drinks to look out for.

  • No crunchiness! — Crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, hard taco shells, and nuts can be too hard on the braces.
  • No Hard Or Sticky Food. — Food that is hard, like ice, can damage the braces. Sticky food, like caramel or gum, can get stuck on your braces and be difficult to remove. If the food or candy is hard and sticky, it can be inconvenient and potentially harmful for you and your braces.
  • Avoid Fibrous Vegetables Or “Bite Into” Fruit. — Fibrous vegetables like celery are often full of string that can get stuck in your orthodontic work. Apples and other hard fruits that you bite into can damage the front brackets. Some fibrous vegetables like broccoli and carrots are also too rough on braces. We recommend cutting tough vegetables into smaller pieces when eating. 
  • No Sugary And Acidic Drinks. —  Beverages, including but not limited to sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks, have a lot of sugar and are high in acid that can damage your metalwork and teeth — with or without braces!

Bonus: If you have clear aligners or braces, you should limit your intake of food and drink that can stain your teeth and therefore stain your aligners, such as tomato-based foods, coffee, wine, or tea. If you consume these substances, you should rinse your mouth with water after meals to keep the aesthetic of your equipment. 

Bonus: Food and drink that are bad for the teeth can also cause tooth decay and other oral health complications that can be painful and affect your orthodontic treatment and final smile results. Dr. Sarpotdar and Dr. Sun can provide a detailed list upon request, and don’t ever hesitate to ask him if a specific food or drink is safe for consumption.

Top Tips For Oral Health During Orthodontic TreatmentWith Icon Orthodontics, Oral Health Doesn’t Have To Be Aggravating.

Icon Orthodontics has all the answers you need to confidently, comfortably, and safely navigate your oral health during treatment. We know that changes to your lifestyle and routine can be challenging, and having to discern what is safe or not safe can be frustrating, but we take pride in making your experience as easy and non-disruptive to your habits as possible.

To learn more about the treatment options we provide or our team, contact us today to schedule a free in-person or virtual consultation! We would love to answer all your questions and discuss what orthodontic work can do for you!

Our entire team looks forward to meeting you soon!