As you are aware, plaque (the whitish build-up of food material, and bacteria) is the cause of cavities, tooth scarring (white lines as stains, also technically known as enamel decalcification) and gum disease, which may occur if teeth are not kept clean. In order to prevent the above problems from occurring, several techniques have been developed to reduce or eliminate plaque build-up on your teeth. You should brush your teeth immediately after every time you eat, even after snacks. We recommend a soft toothbrush and any brand of toothpaste which contains fluoride. Tooth brushing and oral hygiene must be excellent at all times, especially next to the gumline. When oral hygiene is poor several things happen:
- Gum infection (gingivitis) is recognized by puffy, swollen, red gums which bleed easily. This can lead to more severe disease (periodontal disease), which eventually leads to tooth loss.
- Permanent white spots (decalcifications) may also be left on the teeth after appliances are removed if plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth during treatment. Extra care must be taken in the area between your gums and the braces. We call this “The Danger Zone”. Food and plaque that collects around your braces and wires can cause stains and cavities as well as unpleasant odors, so be sure to keep your teeth clean. Take time and do it right. If you have difficulty brushing, an electric toothbrush may be recommended. A “proxy brush” is a small pipe-cleaner type of toothbrush and is recommended for brushing under your wires and between brackets in addition to a regular toothbrush.
- Finally, cavities can occur before, during or after treatment if hygiene is poor. Fortunately, all of these are preventable simply by brushing and flossing. We reserve the right to remove braces and stop treatment if hygiene is repeatedly poor and we feel that high plaque levels are damaging teeth and/or gums. Remember, during your orthodontic treatment you must see your dentist every 4-6 months for your cleanings and dental check-ups.
Remember that although your braces and wires are metal, they are fragile and can be damaged by eating the wrong foods.