Braces are a rite of passage for many adolescents, yet can be a contributing factor to gingivitis in children and adolescents. Gingivitis, which can be a precursor to gum disease, is found in 50 percent of all children.
While orthodontic wires and brackets can help straighten crooked smiles, they can also contribute to the development of this early stage of gum disease. Caused by a buildup of plaque on teeth and gums, gingivitis is prevalent in those undergoing orthodontic treatment because it can be difficult to clean around braces, where food and plaque can accumulate.
Because orthodontics is an important investment in future dental health, it’s important to take diligent care of teeth and gums throughout treatment. The following five strategies can help ensure everyday dental health while wearing braces.
1. Use a Soft Compact Toothbrush
Tooth enamel and gum tissue are particularly vulnerable during orthodontic treatment. A hard-bristled toothbrush can cause receding gums, as well as damage orthodontic appliances. The soft, compact PeriClean with its softer, longer-lasting rubber bristles is ideal for removing food and plaque while protecting fragile teeth and gums.
2. Brush at a 45-Degree Angle
Traditional up and down brushing techniques can loosen brackets. While wearing braces, it’s important to place your brush at an angle of 45-degrees against the gums. Gently brush along the gum line where the gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion with each tooth. You will want to devote about 10 seconds brushing each tooth. Carefully brush the braces and around the brackets and wires so that the bristles spread into gaps between the wire and the tooth. Don’t forget to brush both the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth.
3. Choose Fluoride Products
Because you’re at a higher risk of developing tooth decay during orthodontic treatment, you will want the protection of fluoride products. This includes brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day. A fluoride rinse can offer additional protection.
4. Consider Interdental Brushes and Floss Threaders
If normal brushing is not sufficient at removing food particles from your teeth, your orthodontist may recommend a tiny cylindrical, interdental brush that can scrub between teeth where periodontal and tooth decay problems often begin. This can be used in conjunction with a floss threader which can make it easier to floss between teeth.
5. Stay Hydrated
Dry mouth is a common side effect of wearing braces. With braces taking up more space in the mouth, the result can be less saliva and an ongoing feeling of dryness. And with a dry mouth comes the increased risk of gingivitis. It’s important to stay well hydrated throughout orthodontic treatment. There are also products on the market that can help combat dry mouth syndrome to increase the amount of saliva being produced in your mouth.