As we pack away Halloween costumes and dig into some candy, it’s the perfect time to talk about brushing! November 1 is National Brush Your Teeth Day—a holiday all about keeping your teeth sparkling clean. Brushing has been an important part of healthy lives for thousands of years. In fact, early forms of toothbrushes have existed as far back as 3000 BCE! All pre-modern and modern civilizations knew about the importance of cleaning their teeth, and it is no different today. Read this complete guide for a refresher about brushing if you have braces or aligners!
Why should you brush your teeth?
Brushing is always important, but it is even more so when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Brushing cleans plaque buildup, preventing it from hardening into tartar, which can lead to gum disease, inflammation, and a slower treatment. It also removes food particles that may be stuck between brackets or teeth. These can lead to cavities and decay if not removed.
Oral bacteria thrive on foods that are sugary or acidic (just like your Halloween candy!). Starchy foods, like bread, potatoes, and rice, break down into sugars and have a similar effect. No matter what you eat, brushing regularly is a must to maintain good oral health during orthodontic treatment.
When do you brush your teeth?
How often and how long you brush depends on your orthodontic appliances! People without orthodontic appliances only need to brush twice a day. But, if you have braces, we recommend that you brush after every meal for two to four minutes each time. If you have aligners, you must brush after eating or drinking anything other than water. This includes late-night snacks, coffee or tea, and regular mealtimes. Do not pop in your aligners after a candy snack or wear your nighttime retainer without brushing beforehand. Covering up bacteria with aligners is a recipe for decay!
How do you brush with braces?
Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and hold your brush at a 45-degree angle. Then, rub it against your teeth gently in a circular motion. Try to reach all the visible surfaces of your tooth. Get in between each bracket and clean any aligner attachments as well. If you wear braces, take extra care while brushing to prevent damaging your brackets or wires. Always brush gently and avoid scrubbing hard at the enamel or aggressively on your gums.
A soft-bristled toothbrush is ideal for most people. When you are finished brushing, store your toothbrush in a dry area without a cap, as moisture allows bacteria to grow. Remember to replace your toothbrush after three months of use or after getting sick, as reinfection is possible.
What is next?
Remember to keep your teeth clean—not just today, but every day! Even if you adhere to all the above-mentioned recommendations, brushing alone is not enough to maintain perfect dental hygiene during orthodontic treatment. Be sure to floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings.
And, if you choose to indulge in some braces-friendly candy today, remember to brush and floss after. Consistent habits lead to excellent smile transformations!