Orthodontic treatment involves different appliances and devices to correct the bite and straighten your teeth. When teeth are aligned, they are also easier to clean. After your teeth have been moved into the proper position, a retainer will be used to prevent any future shifting.
People may need orthodontic treatment for different reasons.
- To correct crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth
- Correcting malocclusion, or a bad bite, to address jaw pain or discomfort when chewing by properly distributing biting pressure to the correct surfaces.
- Improving oral health by making brushing and interdental cleaning easier
Options for Orthodontic Treatment
There are different orthodontic appliances that can be used. Some are used to correct how the two jaws come together or expanding the palate, whereas others may straighten the teeth.
Braces, with fixed brackets on each individual tooth, or removable clear aligners are often used to straighten the teeth. This treatment involves gentle pressure to move the teeth into alignment over time.
Why is oral health essential during orthodontic treatment?
Bacteria constantly builds up along the gum line, between the teeth, and on orthodontic appliances. The sticky build-up of bacteria is called plaque. It needs regular and thorough removal, otherwise it can harm your teeth and gums. If plaque is not cleaned away properly, two things are very common: gum inflammation and tooth decay.
- Gum inflammation can be noted as red, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush. If the gums swell around the brackets, this can be painful, harder to clean and make it difficult when it is time for the braces to come off.
- Tooth decay is often not noted until the braces come off or if there is a large cavity it can delay your orthodontic treatment, as you must restore the tooth before proceeding. Often tooth decay can be seen as white spots on the teeth. When plaque is left on the tooth, this white spot occurs due to continual demineralization and remineralization of the enamel. Once you get your braces off, you will be excited to see beautiful straight teeth, but may be met with a white spot that shows the outline of the orthodontic bracket. That’s why it’s important to clean well – not only during the entire orthodontic treatment but also before and after.
Other oral concerns:
- Oral Irritations: With orthodontic appliances, like brackets and wires, you can develop little cuts or ulcers on your cheeks or lips. When your mouth is sore, it can be difficult to clean your mouth thoroughly. Remember to be gentle while you clean.
Nutrition: It may be uncomfortable to eat hard foods during the first days after your braces are fitted or tightened. Soft foods are probably more manageable, but bear in mind that soft, sticky foods are more difficult to remove from your teeth and braces. Sensitivity will improve in a few days or a week and you’ll be able to go back to what you normally eat. Depending on the type of braces you have, you might find some foods, often chewy or hard, are more difficult to eat than others.
- Try to limit food and drink intake to five times a day, and avoid snacking between meals
- Drink water between meals and when you are thirsty
- Limit unnecessary sugar and restrict sugary snacks to one day a week
5 Steps to care for your teeth while having orthodontic appliances:
- Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food debris that has been trapped around the orthodontic appliances(s).
- Plaque needs to be removed from the 5 surfaces of the tooth: the cheek side, tongue side, chewing surfaces, and between the teeth. Plaque must also be removed from any hooks, bands, brackets, wires, or any other appliances you may have in your mouth. If you have braces, brush above, below, and the top of the brackets.
- Brush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle.
- Brush for at least 2 minutes.
- Clean between the teeth at least once daily, preferably in the evening.
Additional tips for keeping removable aligners or retainers clean:
- Take your aligner out whenever you eat or drink to avoid getting food trapped or allowing liquids to not be properly rinsed away.
- Also, brush your removable aligner with a toothbrush. Sometimes specific brands have their own guidelines for cleaning, so you should always ask your dental professional for the best recommendation.
Tips to consider during your orthodontic treatment:
- Develop routines, as schedules continually change during each season.
- Use fluoride toothpaste to make your teeth stronger.
- Use a mouthwash with fluoride, if possible after a snack or lunch, to help strengthen the teeth.
- When first getting the orthodontic appliance, serve soft food.
- Prepare a travel case with an extra set of oral hygiene products to bring to school or work.
- Stock up with orthodontic wax to prevent mouth irritations from sharp edges.
- If a child has an orthodontic appliance or braces, a caregiver should assist with cleaning until they are old enough to do it themselves—usually around 8-10 years old.
- Remember that you’re wearing braces for a limited time – make the best of it and keep your target image in mind when things get tough.
TePe Products Designed for Orthodontic Care
Cleaning your orthodontic appliances
Fixed orthodontic appliances increase the number of sites where plaque can accumulate. Maintaining a high standard of plaque control is essential to reduce risk of cavities and gum disease.
TePe Orthodontic Products
When deciding what is the best hygiene tool to clean your orthodontic appliance, TePe believes these products can help you remove plaque from around your orthodontic appliances, as well as from your teeth.
- TePe® Original Interdental Brush & TePe Angle™ Interdental Brush: Suitable for cleaning under the wire and for interdental cleaning under the retainer.
- Tepe EasyPick™: Easy interdental cleaning under the wire or the retainer. Comes with a travel case for on-the-go use.
TePe Supreme™: The toothbrush with bristles in two levels facilitates access around orthodontic appliances.
TePe® Implant Orthodontic Brush: Extra slim brush head enables cleaning around brackets and wires.
TePe Compact Tuft™: The rounded tuft is suitable for cleaning around brackets and along the gum line. Great for cleaning attachments used for removable aligners.
TePe Universal Care™: The angled neck facilitates cleaning of lingual orthodontic appliances, like brackets or permanent retainers.
TePe Interspace™: The tapered brush tip is ideal for cleaning around brackets and under wires.
- TePe® Bridge and Implant Floss: Efficient cleaning between teeth by going under the orthodontic wire with a stiff plastic end.
- TePe® Ortho Kit: Effectively clean around orthodontic appliances or braces with brushes designed to fit narrow areas, between the teeth, and used for on-the-go cleaning. You will get a TePe Supreme™ toothbrush, a TePe® Implant Orthodontic brush, a TePe Compact Tuft™ brush, the TePe Angle™ Interdental brushes, and the TePe EasyPick™.