Wearing braces will help you achieve a beautiful, straight smile. But while this is great for your mouth overall, braces do make it harder to keep your teeth clean. If you don't want to suffer tooth decay as a result of wearing braces for a few years, you'll need to pay very close attention to your dental hygiene. Here are some tips to help you out.
Use a smaller toothbrush.
Plaque and food particles will tend to get caught around your braces brackets. It will be important for you to remove them effectively each time you brush. This may not be possible with a larger toothbrush, so purchase a small toothbrush -- possibly a child-size one -- for more effective tooth brushing. Spend some time brushing each tooth and each brace individually, making sure you especially pay attention to the area of your tooth right between the brace and the gum.
Use a Waterpik to floss.
Flossing with braces is pretty difficult, so many patients either don't floss thoroughly or end up not flossing at all. This can lead to extensive decay between the teeth, so it's important that you find a way to floss with your braces on. Instead of using standard floss, consider using a device called a Waterpik. It's a battery-operated tool that shoots a powerful stream of water. You aim the water and the border between two teeth, and it loosens any plaque and debris located there. Make sure you rinse your mouth out after using the Waterpik to ensure all plaque ends up in the sink rather than stuck on your braces.
Stay away from sticky foods.
Most dentists recommend avoiding sticky foods like caramels when wearing braces. Patients assume this is because these foods can pull on their braces -- so they sometimes start eating them once they realize they don't actually harm the braces. But a bigger reason why sticky foods is a bad idea is that they sit on the teeth and braces after you eat them, continuing to feed oral bacteria and perpetuate decay. So listen to your dentist's advice -- avoid those sticky foods to keep your teeth cleaner.
Even with very careful brushing and flossing, you're likely to miss a spot or two when you brush. Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash may not completely make up for it, but it will help since the wash helps kill any remaining oral bacteria that contribute to decay. Make sure the mouthwash you choose is labeled "antiseptic."
To learn more about practicing good oral hygiene with braces, contact your dentist or visit websites like http://www.allaboutsmilesinc.com/.