How to have good oral hygiene with braces
Braces do more than just improve your smile, they are responsible for correcting problems such as malocclusion as well as overcrowded and misaligned teeth. If ignored, these problems will worsen and will lead to oral and physical discomfort in the form of gum inflammation and even tooth loss.
Once your braces have been applied, it is essential to take the necessary steps to ensure you maintain a healthy standard of oral hygiene. Neglecting to follow simple hygiene rules will lead to the braces becoming damaged which can cause discomfort and several trips to your orthodontist – which would otherwise be unnecessary.
Can bad oral hygiene cause health problems?
Bad oral hygiene can cause more than just bad breath. Neglecting standard oral hygiene practices can lead to cavities and sometimes more severe cases, such as heart disease.
We have outlined some of the more severe consequences that bad oral hygiene can lead to:
Heart disease: if your gums become inflamed due to poor oral hygiene standards, you’re increasing the risk of periodontal disease entering your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart. This can cause atherosclerosis (when your arteries become hardened). The disease causes plaque to develop on the inner walls of the arteries. The walls then become thicker, decreasing blood flow and increasing the risk of a heart attack or a stroke. In some cases, the inner lining of your the heart can also become inflamed (endocarditis). The link between bad oral hygiene and heart disease can easily be dismissed by following simple oral care practices.
Dementia: if you develop gingivitis and the bacteria finds its way into the brain (though nerve channels in the heard or your bloodstream), then it may even lead to Alzheimer’s.
Respiratory problems: some studies indicate that gum disease can cause lung infections and even pneumonia. Although the connection between gum disease and respiratory infections is still under debate, evidence suggests that breathing in bacteria from infection gums over a long period of time could be damaging to the lungs.
Diabetic complications: controlling your blood sugar may become more difficult in the presence of inflamed gum tissue and periodontal disease. Diabetics are also more likely to suffer from gum disease. For this reason, diabetics should pay closer attention to the dental care routine.
Following simple oral hygiene practices will help prevent these conditions and diseases. If you are ever concerned that you’re displaying similar symptoms to the above, please contact your local dentist or orthodontist.
Effects and symptoms of bad oral hygiene
Bad breath is one of the most common and noticeable symptoms of poor oral hygiene with braces. Fortunately, the simple act of brushing and flossing should alleviate any concerns relating to bad breath.
It is important to visit your dentist twice a year to ensure no problems have arisen. However, you should visit your dentist or orthodontist if you present the following symptoms:
- Ulcers, sores or you experience discomfort in your mouth (that has not healed within two weeks)
- Swollen and/or bleeding gums
- Persistent toothaches
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Pain when eating
- Headaches relating to your jaw (chewing, biting)
- Cracked or broken teeth
Additionally, if these bad oral hygiene symptoms accompany a fever or severe swelling of the neck, throat and face, you should seek attention from your dentist as soon as possible.
Controlling bad oral hygiene with braces
However, with braces, careful cleaning is required to ensure you are cleaning properly (in-between the teeth) and not damaging the braces. Bacteria can easily become trapped inside and around certain parts of your braces (brackets, wiring etc).
Here’s a simple brushing and flossing routine to ensure you stay on top of your oral hygiene with braces:
- Before brushing, take off the elastics of your brace and other removable parts (your orthodontist may have advised you on these parts).
- You may now start gently cleaning your braces, taking care to clean in and around the wiring and pins. Brushing at a 45 degree angle may help with this. Brush in the usual top to bottom fashion, making sure you’re cleaning the top and bottom of each wire.
- Now, you can brush your teeth. Try to clean each tooth individual, minding your brackets. Placing your brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line, apply gentle pressure in a circular motion. Do this for each tooth inside and out, tilting as you go to ensure you clean to the hard to reach areas.
- Floss after you have cleaned the brace and your teeth. Your orthodontist will show you the best techniques to floss in and around your teeth and braces and what products to use.
- Rinse and check. After flossing, be sure to rinse your mouth with water to ensure all lose debris is removed. Examine your teeth in the mirror to double-check.
This routine should eliminate any effects of bad oral hygiene and keep your braces and teeth clean.
Bad oral hygiene and your tongue
One of the most common symptoms of bad oral hygiene is having a ‘white’ tongue. Fortunately, this is usually a harmless symptom but it still needs to be treated. This white tongue appears when germs, debris and food particles get stuck in-between papillae (small bumps on your tongue).
Unless it is a serious medical problem (such as leukoplakia or oral thrush), a white tongue can be treated by:
- Cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush and toothpaste (using a mild toothpaste is advisable)
- Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and fizzy drinks
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, followed by flossing and rinsing
Controlling bad oral hygiene with braces
Maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene is very simple. Combining regular brushing and flossing with visits to your dentist (or orthodontist) should see your oral hygiene remain healthy and problem-free. It is recommended you visit your dentist twice a year to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy, unless otherwise directed by your dentist.
Get in touch for more information on taking care of your braces
Our team are always on-hand to offer expert advice on brace and oral hygiene care. Call or email us today to arrange a consultation or check-up.