An Orthodontic Cleaning Guide
You just made a major investment in braces…. now what? Well, whether that investment was for your child or for yourself the ultimate goal is to have a beautiful smile you’re proud to show off. However, getting to that part requires a little bit of work on your end. It may not be the most fun part of your day, (an understatement we know) but properly cleaning your braces will help you successfully achieve that beautiful smile you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve already done the whole braces thing, you want to keep that smile straight and beautiful, don’t you? Well, that requires you to wear your retainer(s), and those things can get gross! So, to help you avoid that we have the ultimate guide for you and your child to keep your braces and retainers clean!
Orthodontic Kit Tip
Living with braces isn’t always fun or easy. Prepare a kit for your child that they can bring with them whenever they leave the house to make life a little easier!
- Proxabrush (or other cleaning tool your orthodontist has supplied you with)
- Wax (in case there is a wire poking or bothering them, which in this case you should call your orthodontist as soon as possible.)
- Lip balm (for dry lips)
Don’t be shy to smile with braces! People actually notice your mouth more when it looks as if you are trying to hide something. Plus… you’re on your way to a smile to build a future on!
Good oral hygiene is key to a healthy mouth whether you have braces or not, but it is especially important if you have braces! Braces make cleaning your teeth a bit more complicated because plaque quickly builds up around brackets, bands, and wires. Brushing your teeth after each meal will help prevent cavities, gum inflammation, and bad breath.
Flossing with braces is a little more difficult than it is without, but equally as important. In order to floss your teeth, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main wire and the part of the tooth closest to the gum. Then work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between to remove any particles. Make sure you are flossing gently so you don’t break a wire.
Finally, you want to clean your teeth with a proxabrush or another braces-specific cleaning brush. Your orthodontist will give this to you after you get braces. This brush is specifically designed to clean braces. You will push the brush down from the top between two braces, stroke several times, and remove. Then, push the brush up from the bottom between the two braces, and repeat. You will repeat this practice until all the braces have been cleaned.
Post Braces, The Dreaded Retainer
Now that you have that beautiful smile, it’s your job to keep it! Retainers are a necessity to preserve your smile. That means you need to take good care of them. A retainer is exposed to many germs through your saliva, food particles, and really anything that enters your mouth. Not cleaning a retainer can lead to bigger problems like infections. So, how do you clean your retainer when it’s in a germy predicament?
The best time to clean your retainer is when you take it out to brush your teeth. Once a day or at least once a week, you should disinfect your retainer by soaking it in a denture cleanser. Add the cleanser to a cup of warm water, not hot, hot water may shrink the retainer! Then, after you let your retainer soak, rinse it with plain water before placing it back in your mouth.
Things to avoid when cleaning your retainers:
- Avoid scrubbing with toothpaste. This can easily roughen the surface, and create more surface area for bacteria to attach and hide.
- Be careful not to over-soak.
- Do not use vinegar as an at home cleaning alternative. It may increase the porosity of the acrylic and can corrode retainer wiring if used long enough.
- Avoid exposing to excessive heat
- Do not put your retainers in a place where your pets can get ahold of them.
- Don’t forget to bring your retainers to your appointments so the orthodontist can check you are cleaning them properly!
For additional information on cleaning your retainer, check out this retainer guide.
Don’t be afraid to ask your orthodontist to further explain proper cleaning procedures. They want to help you get the most out of your investment and give you or your child that beautiful smile you’ve been dreaming of.