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Tips for Caring for Orthodontic Appliances

Jan 8, 2015 - 02:01 PM EST |  Posted under: Orthodontics
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The joy of braces for kids. Orthodontics are a true-character building experience from the days of youth for many people—months or years of clinking metal, popping rubber bands, and tightening of braces, all in the name of a straight, shiny beautiful smile. And looking back, most people would agree that it was worth it.

If you are in the midst of orthodontics—braces, wires, springs, rubber bands—you know about the diligent effort necessary to keep your teeth and gums clean. Braces can easily harbor bacteria as bits of food become lodged in between the teeth and apparatus. Family orthodontics experts recommend that people with orthodontics brush their teeth after every meal and rinse thoroughly to remove debris from hard-to-reach places.

What If a Bracket or Wire Breaks?

Here are some tips for dealing with common problems until you are able to see your orthodontist:

  • Broken or protruding wire. Use the eraser on a pencil to gently move the wire to reduce discomfort. Apply orthodontic wax to prevent the wire from rubbing in your mouth. Do not cut the wire because you could accidentally swallow it or inhale it into your lungs. Schedule an appointment with your orthodontist.
  • Loose brackets. Use orthodontic wax to temporarily reattach a loose bracket or to cushion the area between the bracket and the sensitive tissues in your mouth.
  • Loose spacers. Have spacers repositioned or replaced if they fall out or slip.
  • Loose bands. Save the band and visit your orthodontist for repair.

Brushing with Braces

Use a regular soft toothbrush, brushing down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth. After that, brush your teeth with a special Proxabrush, designed to clean between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Make several strokes in both directions before moving to the next space. Repeat until all spaces are clean.

Flossing with Braces

Feed the short end of the floss through the space between the upper part of the tooth closest to the gum and the main arch wire. Gently work the floss between the two teeth using a gentle back-and-forth motion. Be careful that you don’t disturb the arch wire.

Caring for Your Retainer

Brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth. Each day—or at least once a week—soak your retainer in a denture cleanser and warm water to disinfect it. Thoroughly rinse the retainer with water before putting it back in your mouth.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

  • Apples, bagels, and other hard, tough-to-bite foods
  • Corn on the cob
  • Raw carrots
  • Caramels, taffy or other chewy foods
  • Nuts
  • Hard pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Chewing gum
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