Brush with a soft bristle toothbrush after meals with a fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 minutes or about 10 seconds per tooth, to remove the sticky, colorless film on your teeth called “plaque”. Plaque contains bacteria, food and saliva. Plaque is your enemy. Brushing only cleans 60% of the tooth surface. It is especially important to brush at bedtime because the cleansing/protective action of saliva decreases during sleep. When children less than 8 years old are using a fluoride toothpaste, they should be supervised to make sure that they only use a pea sized amount of toothpaste and that they spit the toothpaste out when done brushing. If the space between adjacent teeth permits, use a interproximal brush which looks like a pipe cleaner on a handle, to clean that space. If the space between adjacent teeth is too small for an interproximal brush, use dental floss. Brushing keeps your breath fresh.
Floss by hand with regular dental floss or floss by hand using the DenTek Braces Clean Angled Floss Pick or use a battery powered Waterpik Power Flosser or floss with Oral B Superfloss, once a day to clean the 40% of a tooth surface that cannot be reached by your toothbrush.
Rinse with a plaque and gingivitis fighting mouth rinse like Crest Pro Health Rinse for 30 seconds twice a day.
Eat healthy foods preferably those with low acid content. You never outgrow the risk of cavities. Limit the amount and the number of times sugary liquids and hard candy eaten each day to avoid white spot and cavity formation. Eat starches and sugars at mealtimes rather than as in between meal snacks. Each time you eat or drink sugary foods, the germs in your mouth make acid that destroys tooth surfaces. The acid attack lasts 20-40 minutes and restarts all over again with each sip or bite. Even diet sodas can be harmful to your teeth because they contain acidic additives. Clear snacks from your teeth as soon as possible; even a simple swish and rinse with water will help.
Drink plenty of water because saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay. Saliva helps wash away acids from your teeth and saliva contains minerals to help repair your teeth.
Never ignore bleeding gums. You never outgrow the risk of gum disease. If you have bleeding gums, you have a problem. Have your teeth evaluated for inflammation/bleeding risk by your family dentist at least twice a year. Bacteria from your mouth can get in your blood stream and may cause serious problems in other parts of your body. Only your dentist can determine whether inflammation causing bacteria are located beyond the reach of your tooth brush and need professional removal by your dentist. Gum disease can increase the tendency for teeth to relapse to their former positions after orthodontic treatment is completed.
Keep up with your dental checkups. Have your dentist apply fluoride varnish to your teeth two to four times a year while you are in braces because having braces places you in a high caries risk category.
Have your dentist apply plastic sealants to the grooves on the biting surfaces of the permanent molars if a risk assessment places you in a moderate to high risk category.
Wear a mouth guard during sports especially contact sports. Sixty percent of facial injuries occur during sports practice with five million teeth knocked out each year in the USA. If an injury occurs, know what to do.
Wear your retainer after your braces are removed to keep your teeth from moving out of alignment. If you slip up and don’t wear your retainer enough to keep your teeth as straight as you want them, go back and see your orthodontist. Orthodontists know that you are only human and that you are not the first patient who has needed help to get back on track. Maybe your present retainer just needs an adjustment; maybe you need an appliance of a different design to recover; or maybe you need to go back into braces briefly. Your orthodontist has seen and heard it all before, so give your orthodontist a chance to help you.
Avoid tongue piercing which can crack teeth, damage fillings, cause nerve damage, stimulate excessive drooling, accelerate development of metal allergies, cause tongue swellings serious enough to block your airway, introduce bacteria into your blood causing systemic infection, cause gaps to develop between your upper front teeth and irritate your gums causing gum recession.
Wear a night guard if you have a tooth grinding habit .
Avoid using smoking and chewing tobacco products and limit alcohol consumption.
Buckle up in your car. A seat belt and shoulder harness can keep your face from striking the steering wheel or dash during minor accidents. You can find more information here: