Nguyen Orthodontics

Dr HUY D. NGUYEN Certified Specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics

509-1110 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto ON Canada M2K 2W2    Tel:416-222-5580

Oral Hygiene for Orthodontic Patients

If you thought brushing and flossing were important before you got braces well, you were right. But people undergoing orthodontic treatment need to be even more dedicated to good oral hygiene.

Good Dental Hygiene + Orthodontics = A Smile That's Good for Life

toronto orthodontics
It's important that you take especially good care of your teeth during orthodontic treatment. By brushing and cleaning in between your teeth regularly, you'll keep your teeth and gums in top condition and ensure that your orthodontic treatment will deliver the healthiest, most beautiful smile possible. When your braces come off, you'll see that your extra efforts have been rewarded with a healthy, great-looking smile that's good for life.

Successful orthodontic treatment - a healthy and beautiful smile - is the result of a team effort between you, your orthodontist and your family practice of dental professionals. You as the patient play the key part. Most importantly, you must keep your teeth, gums and braces clean while you are in ortho treatment. Proper dental care will take a little extra time and effort, but it is well worth it. Closely follow the instructions your orthodontist and staff members give you.

Plaque is the Enemy

Braces trap food very easily, which contributes to plaque formation. If plaque is not carefully removed from teeth and from around braces, patients run the risk of developing gum disease, dental decay and bad breath.

Plaque is a mixture of bacteria, debris and bits of food. The bacteria feed on sugars and produce acids. The acids can irritate your gums, erode the enamel on your teeth and contribute to bad breath (halitosis). It's important to remove the plaque thoroughly and often. Then, when your braces come off, the surfaces of your teeth underneath the braces will be healthy and strong and look good.


toronto orthodontics
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Soft bristles are better than medium or hard bristles at getting into those nooks and crannies around your appliances. They also don't irritate your gums. Some companies make toothbrushes especially for people with braces. Known as bi-level brushes, they have longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle. This type of brush allows you to clean the area above and below the brackets and the brackets as well.

The most important thing is to look for a brush that's soft and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). After that, the size of the brush, the shape of the handle and other variations are up to you. What about an electric toothbrush? It's not necessary, but if you have one, it's safe to use it on your braces. Just be careful not to hit the plastic back of the brush against the brackets on your braces because it can damage them. Also, it should be used on a moderate setting so as not to break or loosen braces.

Brush at least three times a day. It is best to brush after meals to make sure there's no food trapped in or around braces. If you are not able to brush after lunch, at least rinse your mouth with water very thoroughly.

Brush for at least two to three minutes each time. It's best to use a watch or timer to make sure you are brushing long enough.

Brushing should be done slowly and carefully. It's important to brush the braces and all the surfaces of the teeth, that is, the inside and outside surface and the chewing surfaces, too. Pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums.

How to Brush?

toronto orthodontics How to Brush? Use a prescription fluoride toothpaste like Fluoridex and a soft, end-rounded bristle toothbrush or power toothbrush that's in good condition. Your toothbrush or power toothbrush head should be changed frequently since the brackets on your teeth will quickly wear out the bristles. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your brush every 3 months; that translates to 4 times a year.

Brush around all the parts of your braces and every surface of your teeth - fronts, sides, and backs and chewing surfaces for at least 2 full minutes. Be sure to brush your tongue and roof of the mouth, too.

A good way to tell if you're brushing correctly is if your braces look clean and shiny and you can see the edges of the brackets clearly.

Brush your gums gently and thoroughly.

Rinse thoroughly after brushing with water or a mouth rinse recommended by your orthodontist.

Inspect your teeth and braces regularly and carefully to make sure they are spotless.

Look closely in a well-lighted mirror. This is a good time to check for loose or broken brackets. If you find a problem, contact the orthodontist's office to see if it needs to be checked out and if time needs to be scheduled to make a repair.


Floss at least once a day. It might seem like you can't possibly floss while you have braces, but you can and you should. Special flossing products can help you get into the space between the wires and your gumline. These include floss threaders and a special kind of floss. When your braces are first put on, someone in your orthodontist's office should review flossing techniques. If you're not sure you're doing it right, ask your orthodontist during your next visit.

How to Clean Between Your Teeth

toronto orthodontics How to Brush?
Use a recommended interproximal cleaner or floss every night before you go to bed. Since it may take another minute or two, you won't feel rushed.

If you choose to use floss, it might be necessary to use what's called a floss threader. This reusable tool allows you to get dental floss underneath your archwires easily. If you use floss, be sure you clean carefully along and under the gumline. And as with anything, a little practice will make it go a lot easier.


Use a fluoride toothpaste. It doesn't really matter which one - just make sure it has the ADA seal of approval. Your orthodontist may recommend that you use an over-the-counter fluoride rinse. These rinses usually provide enough fluoride to help protect and strengthen teeth during orthodontic treatment. However, if you have a history of cavities or are otherwise at risk of decay, your orthodontist may prescribe a rinse that contains more fluoride, Dr. Cangialosi says. Consider an office treatment. You can get more fluoride - usually in the form of a gel or varnish - from your dentist during a regular visit. If you have a history of decay, your dentist may suggest this type of treatment. During orthodontic treatment, see your family dentist for a complete examination every six months, or as directed by your dentist.

Tools To Help You

Rubber-tipped and End-tuft or Single-tuft / Interproximal Brush

These are special brushes that help you to get into those nooks and crannies, as well as between your teeth. The end-tuft or single-tuft brushes look something like pipe cleaners.

Interproximal brush slips under your archwire to more completely remove plaque and food particles near your brackets.

Oral Irrigators / Automated Interproximal Cleaners

toronto orthodontics Automated Interproximal Cleaners These instruments shoot small streams of water onto your teeth at high pressure to remove bits of food. They can be used as an aid in your oral hygiene practice, but not in place of brushing and flossing. They also should be used at a moderate setting so they don't damage the braces.

Automated Interproximal Cleaners are high tech tools, like the Sonicare AirFloss, use microbursts of fluid to clean between your teeth.

Antibacterial, Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste or Flourdie Rinses

These rinses are fine for adults, but their high alcohol content makes them off-limits for kids. There are alcohol-free rinses available for children to use. But some are designed only to freshen breath and not to kill bacteria. Before buying an antibacterial rinse for your child to use, you should ask your orthodontist which rinses he or she recommends.

Use a prescription fluoride toothpaste like Fluoridex once a day as part of your cleaning routine, if prescribed by your dental professional. For the best results, use a fluoride rinse with your interproximal brush or Automated Interproximal Cleaner to deliver maximum fluoride protection to your teeth.

Power Toothbrush

toronto orthodontics Power Toothbrush These devices, such as the Sonicare toothbrush, are designed to make brushing easier and more efficient. Research shows that a power toothbrush is more effective at removing plaque and food debris than a manual toothbrush.

Disclosing Solutions or Tablets

Your dentist may have used these during an office visit to see where you tend to miss spots after brushing. Disclosing tablets and solutions use vegetable dye to highlight plaque or debris in your mouth. Once you see the spots, you can quickly remove them with your toothbrush. You can find them in a drugstore or get some from your dentist and use them at home.

If you have questions about how to use any oral hygiene product, even your toothbrush, call your orthodontist's office or talk to someone there during your next visit.

Caring for Your Retainer

toronto orthodontics retainer If you have a retainer or other removable orthodontic appliance, it needs to be cleaned regularly, too. After all, it spends a lot of time in your mouth. Brush the appliance daily with your soft toothbrush and some toothpaste. This is especially important for the side that is in contact with the roof of your mouth or gums. Brush your retainer over a wash bowl filled with a few inches of water. That way, if it slips out of your hand it will not be damaged. You also can soak it in a cleaning solution. There are several that are advertised as denture cleaners. If you want to soak your retainer, talk to your orthodontist about which solution to use. Some cleaning solutions can corrode wires or other metallic areas on orthodontic appliances.

When brushing or soaking your appliance, never use hot water. It can distort the plastic and make the appliance unusable. When your retainer is not in your mouth, keep it in the case that your orthodontist gave you. Also, keep it away from your pets. Dogs and cats love the plastic and will chew it to bits if they get it.

Eating Right

Eating Right
While you're wearing braces, you need to think twice about eating foods that could increase your risk of cavities. You also should avoid anything that might damage your brackets or wires. Frequently breaking your braces will add to the overall treatment time.

Stay away from hard and sticky foods. Caramel, hard candy, gum - you get the idea. They can damage your braces and get stuck in the wires and brackets. While the food's stuck there, it provides lots of sugar for cavity-causing bacteria to munch on. Also, do not chew on ice cubes.

Cut down on all sugary foods. You can still have a limited amount of sweets and soda, but the more sugars you eat, the greater your risk of tooth decay. Always brush after eating sugary foods or candy.

It's not just what you eat, but also when you eat it. Frequent snacking on sugary foods is worse than eating those foods with a non-sugary meal. Don't eat sugary foods or candy before going to bed without brushing. The more chances you give the bacteria to turn sugars into acids, the higher your risk of decay.

Dental Visits

Don't ignore your dentist just because you're visiting an orthodontist regularly. It is still important to visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning. You should go at least twice a year, or as often as your dentist and orthodontist recommend.

The Problems That Poor Oral Hygiene Can Cause

Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces. The bacteria in plaque react with sugars and starches in food you eat and form an acid that can eat away the enamel on your teeth, leading to permanent white stain marks, cavities or gum disease.

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