Dental braces are an orthodontic appliance used to straighten and align teeth, positioning them in accordance with an individual’s facial features and bite. They will make your teeth look brand new and you can get them with a smile makeover service in Altamonte springs. With the cosmetic and functional benefits braces provide come a few challenges—so keep reading! Our guide will walk you through maintaining good oral hygiene, and help you select an appropriate toothbrush.
How do Braces Work?
We think of our teeth as permanent, unchanging and immovable. The truth is that teeth can be shifted, but only slowly, and under constant, gentle pressure. That’s how braces work.
Dental braces are one of the oldest forms of orthodontic treatment, allowing dentists to make corrections to misalignment or irregularities in the way someone’s teeth grows.
They are used to help shift teeth into their proper position and/or correct misaligned bites. The braces themselves are composed of brackets that are fixed onto the teeth, connected together by wires and occasionally ligatures. As force is applied slowly over a period of time, the brackets slowly move the teeth into the desired alignment.
Comprised of four primary parts—a bracket that attaches to each tooth; the bonding material that holds brackets in place; a thin arch wire that applies pressure to the teeth; and a ligature elastic that holds brackets to the arch wire—braces apply pressure to the membrane that surrounds the bottom portion of the teeth.
As the membrane is stretched, teeth loosen and shift, triggering bone growth—a process called bone remodelling—to strengthen and support each tooth in its new position. Eventually, this realignment becomes permanent, resulting in an even, attractive smile.
Who Wears Braces—and for How Long?
Many people, from young children to the middle-aged and even (though uncommonly) the elderly, wear braces. A child’s permanent teeth usually form between the ages of six and nine—a good age for a first orthodontic evaluation. As a person gets older, their bones stop growing and become more resistant to remodelling, necessitating that braces be worn for longer periods of time.
While children’s braces stay on an average of eighteen months to two years, an adult may wear braces for up to three years. Both adults and children may need to use a retainer—an orthodontic appliance that helps newly realigned teeth settle into, and stay in, place.
Dental braces are often associated with the teenage years, however anyone at any age can get braces if their dentist recommends it. Generally, the younger a patient is when they start wearing braces, the shorter the overall orthodontic treatment time will be since their jaws, teeth and gums are still developing.
Depending on how complex the patient’s dental case is and what type of treatment they receive depends on how long they will have to wear braces. In some cases, patients only need to wear braces for six months while more severe cases can require several years of treatment.
Maintaining Good Oral Health
Practicing good oral hygiene matters—failing to do so can result in cavities, plaque, gum disease, tooth decay and a host of other health problems—all of which can be exacerbated by failing to exercise extra thoroughness and care when wearing braces.
At the core of any good oral hygiene routine is brushing. Dentists recommend brushing for a full two minutes, divided into four 30-second segments—one segment for each quadrant of the mouth. However, some experts advise that those who wear braces brush longer.
Why? Because it’s important to carefully clean on and around the braces’ wires and brackets, ensuring that no food particles remain left behind. Seek your orthodontist’s advice on removing elastics or any other parts of your braces prior to brushing. As with any brushing routine, clean each tooth thoroughly, holding the brush at a 45 degree angle, and avoid over-brushing (applying excess pressure).
Braces tend to trap food particles on the brackets and wires which can lead to an increase in bacteria, plaque build-up and tooth decay. To ensure none of these problems are a concern, it is important to brush your teeth (and braces) after each meal following the instructions provided by a dentist.
While brushing, be sure to spend some extra time areas around the wires, as these places tend to accumulate plaque buildup quickly.
Your orthodontist may recommend a special toothbrush with a contour at the end, which makes it easier to clean around wires and brackets. Once you have the right setting for your braces and the ideal toothbrush; use fluoride toothpaste, holding your brush at an angle to easily remove plaque and food debris. Take your time with each tooth — make sure to always include the surfaces behind brackets that are not as easily reached by normal brushing techniques.
Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from deep between teeth and along the gumline. Plaque—a sticky bacterial film—produces acid, which causes gum irritation, cavities and tooth decay. Flossing complements and completes brushing.
Flossing often allows individuals to clean areas of the mouth that toothbrushes cannot reach, reducing the risk of food particles collecting between the teeth and brackets. Plaque can build up in this area and harden, which is why it’s important to floss at least once a day.
Regular flossing prevents decay that may form around braces, as well as helps prevent gum disease. Also, utilizing floss threaders or special orthodontic brushes makes it easier to floss underwired sections of braces.
The brackets found on dental braces complicate flossing. For best results, use Superfloss—it’s comprised of both normal and spongy floss, and features a stiffened end. Or try threader floss—it’s extra smooth, and features an integrated threader. Both types of floss are designed for braces and other orthodontic appliances. Your dental health professional will help you choose the product that’s right for your needs.
People who wear braces may wish to avoid nuts, corn, peanut butter, hard candies—and anything else that leaves behind particles or sticky residue. Giving up what may be some of your favourite treats can be hard—but no worse than having to constantly remove bits of food from your braces!
Are Electric Toothbrushes an Option?
In one word, yes—an electric toothbrush is a great option, for a number of reasons:
- An electric toothbrush cleans more effectively than its manual counterpart, oscillating at high speed and removing food particles and plaque from hard-to-reach places—especially important when wearing braces.
- Unlike a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes feature multiple cleaning modes, including those for sensitive teeth and gums.
- Research shows that at least sixty percent of people have poor brushing technique. While an electric toothbrush won’t completely eliminate bad brushing habits, it can go a long way, with integrated timers and pressure sensors.
- Electric toothbrushes accommodate a wide range of replaceable brush heads, including those designed especially for braces.
- Electric toothbrushes can effectively remove plaque and food particles that collect around a person’s brackets. They also decrease bacteria around the gum line; this helps prevent gingivitis and gum disease.
- Likewise, electric toothbrushes generally come equipped with a timer or other feature that can remind individuals to brush correctly and consistently over time.
The Best Electric Toothbrush for Braces
After extensive research, we’ve found that the Oral-B Pro 2500 is the ideal electric toothbrush for people that wear braces. The Pro 2500 is affordably-priced, yet feature-rich:
The 3D movement cleaning system rotates, oscillates and pulsates, mimicking professional dental tools, and allowing the round brush heads to remove up to one hundred percent more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
A visible pressure sensor warns you if you’re over-brushing, protecting your gums against excessive pressure, and prolonging the life of the brush heads.
An integrated timer buzzes every 30 seconds, reminding you to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth, ensuring all that your teeth are evenly cleaned.
The Pro 2500 is compatible with Oral-B’s Ortho Care brush heads. Specially designed for orthodontic appliances, Ortho Care brush heads are tough on plaque, gentle on braces, and effectively clean interdental spaces.
Eighteen months to three years can seem like a long time to wear braces—but being diligent about your oral hygiene routine, and brushing with a best-quality electric toothbrush, such as the Oral-B Pro 2500,will help ensure clean, healthy-looking teeth, and a beautiful, straight smile.