Oral appliances can be particularly difficult to clean and keep clean. Orthodontic gear like braces are notorious for attracting germs, and holding onto food particles long after a meal has concluded. This can cause serious enamel damage, and limit the effectiveness of orthodontic treatment. With braces and other appliances, sometimes, brushing twice per day just isn’t enough. Below are some of the best tools for keeping your appliance – and teeth – clean.
The Problem with Dirty Appliances
The big issue with a dirty oral appliance is that food debris can get caught and sit on the surface of your teeth for long periods of time, This can cause enamel erosion and lead to cavities. A lot of times, you can simply brush food debris away with a toothbrush. However, they aren’t always effective in dislodging food caught in brackets or wires, and with braces, they hardly reach in-between teeth.
The Best Tools for Cleaning Teeth and Oral Appliances
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
This is the most standard, important equipment for cleaning teeth and appliances. It is best to brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes at a time. By doing so, you can prevent plaque buildup and cavities, as well as keep your oral appliance clean.
Braces and oral appliances can make it nearly impossible to floss, however, flossing is a key part of a healthy oral routine for teeth and appliances. Oral appliances often trap food in spaces that are difficult to clean with toothbrushes.
To use a floss threader, take 12 – 18 inches of floss, and thread one end into the loop and tie it off with an overhand knot. Then, use the thread end to pass floss between teeth, and in the tough-to-reach spots between teeth and appliance.
Floss threaders make it easier to floss spots that are hard to reach for those with braces, fixed bridges, or dental implants. You can buy floss threaders at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
Waterpiks clean between teeth and appliance like floss, only there are no strings attached – literally. Waterpiks shoot concentrated, pulsating bursts of water to clear plaque and food debris from in between teeth and appliances. Waterpiks are great for keeping appliances clean, and preventing cavities in between teeth.
Proxabrushes are designed specifically to clean between teeth, and help scrub oral appliances. They look like manual toothbrushes with a replaceable, cone-shaped head. A proxabrush is a hand-held alternative to floss that is easier to maneuver between teeth that have fixed appliances. Each brush comes with a pack of three different heads, which are different sizes to help conform to the shape of your mouth.
Avoid Sticky, Crunchy Foods
Sticky foods to avoid include: toffee, tootsie rolls, caramels, gum, licorice and starburst.
Hard foods to avoid include: chips, Jolly Ranchers, corn on the cob, tacos and hard breads.
Hard and sticky food is very difficult to dislodge from braces, so the best way to keep it out is by avoiding it all together.
Does Your Child Need Braces?
Are you concerned with the way your child’s smile is developing? Then visit our office! We will evaluate their smile and help you determine the best treatment solutions for them, whether or not that includes braces. We’re here to be your orthodontic specialists, and will happily answer any questions you may have.