The decision to get braces is an investment that helps ensure a beautiful smile for years to come. Unfortunately, your teeth are extra vulnerable to decay while being straightened by metal braces because the wires and brackets make it easier for food and bacteria to hide from your toothbrush. From eating the right food to increasing dental hygiene to visiting the dentist regularly, there’s plenty you can do to protect your smile while wearing braces.

Eat a Braces-Friendly Diet

Dentists and orthodontists are always concerned about eating a tooth-friendly diet low on sugar and acids, but while you’re wearing braces, what you eat becomes even more important. A braces-friendly diet eliminates hard, chewy, sticky and crunchy foods while providing additional advice for eating certain “dangerous” foods. Adopting this diet has two primary purposes:

  • It helps you avoid complications from broken or bent wires, which could result in emergency trips to see Dr. Speaks or the need to wear your braces longer than planned.
  • It reduces the chance of additional tooth decay that could result from sticky candy or hard popcorn hulls getting stuck between your teeth.

In addition to watching what food you eat, it’s good to get in the habit of swishing your mouth out after each meal. This helps remove debris that could otherwise linger on your teeth and lead to decay.

Take Proper Care of Your Braces at Home

Cleaning your teeth and braces from day to day is the single most important part of maintaining a healthy smile while wearing braces. You can’t simply run an ordinary toothbrush over the surfaces of your teeth and call it a day. Instead, you should follow special oral hygiene tips to prevent tooth decay or discoloration. Here’s what to do:

  • Remove any rubber bands from your braces before brushing in the morning and again at night.
  • Select a fluoride toothpaste and small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush. An electric toothbrush is especially effective at removing hard-to-reach plaque hiding under your braces.
  • If you use a manual toothbrush, place it at a 45-degree angle against the gums and gently brush along the gum line. Use circular motions on each tooth and linger for 10 seconds before moving on. Brush all surfaces, including the front, back and biting surface of each tooth.
  • If you use an electric toothbrush, move it gently across the surfaces of each tooth. Let the bristles, which oscillate thousands of times per minute, do all the work to remove plaque and debris from between your teeth and under the wires.
  • Spit out excess toothpaste and rinse with water. Check your teeth carefully in the mirror to make sure no lingering debris is visible.
  • Floss your teeth after brushing in the evening. Since ordinary floss can be tricky to weave between the brackets, you may want to use a water flosser.
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to help strengthen the surfaces of your teeth. This is important to prevent cavities and white spots from forming while wearing braces.

Visit Your Dentist Between Orthodontic Visits

Don’t neglect dentist visits while having your teeth straightened by an orthodontist! After all, while Dr. Speaks focuses on straightening your teeth with regular adjustments, your dentist is the one who performs oral exams and cleanings. Every six months, visit the dentist for x-rays to look for newly developing problems, a good tooth polishing, and advice about any areas that need extra care and attention.