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Written by Dr. Chaw Su Kyi on April 9, 2015
When you are wearing braces whether they are removable (e.g. Invisalign) or fixed braces, it is vital that you maintain excellent oral hygiene all throughout treatment. As there is something ‘foreign’ in your mouth, any food or plaque can be left behind on the brace and if not removed can result in a higher risk of decay or gum problems.
Food and plaque can be left behind on the braces after eating. This can be left either on the teeth or on the removable braces if you are eating with the removable braces. After eating, it is best to brush your teeth to remove any residual food and to rinse your removable brace.
It is essential to have a good tooth-brushing technique and regime. But the tooth brush can only reach the “outside” surfaces of the enamel, it cannot clean in between the teeth, at the contact points. This area can really only be reached by using floss. If plaque or food is left behind in this area, it can cause the gums to become inflamed – “gingivitis”. This can cause the gums to bleed when brushing. If plaque is left to continue to be built up – the gums can further worsen and risk of gum disease – “periodontitis”. Periodontitis can result in reduced gum support for your teeth which in severe cases results in the tooth becoming mobile (or wobbly) and the gums receding.
It may be a little ‘trickier’ initially trying to floss your teeth with your fixed braces but is possible! There are a few ways to floss either using conventional flossing techniques or aids like interproximal brushes.
It is possible to floss with your fixed braces but easier using “SuperFloss” by Oral B which comes as individual strands of floss. Each strand of floss has one end which is ‘taut’ and allows you to thread the floss under the wire. Once the floss has been threaded, you are then able to floss between your teeth as normal.
Another way to clean in between the teeth is using an interproximal brush e.g. TePe brushes which may be easier to use than floss. These brushes come in a number of different sizes and you choose the best size which will go easily between your teeth.
All you have to do is gently place the brush at the contact point by the gum margin and it will clean the same areas as flossing. This technique may be easier to use with your fixed braces.
A number of our patients are reporting back with very positive reviews of Sonicare Airfloss. This works by holding a small nozzle between your teeth and a jet burst of air and water is produced. This will clean and help remove any debris between the teeth after flossing. It’s similar to the Waterpik but maybe easier to use.
Flossing is important with or without braces and should be part of your general oral hygiene routine. It doesn’t take long – what is a minute a day to keep your teeth healthy for life!