5 Tips for Orthodontic Spring Cleaning

It’s time for a little spring cleaning, which got us thinking about the importance of keeping our mouths healthy and clean. This is especially important for orthodontic patients, because who wants to have straight teeth, but have bad breath and discoloration? Not us! So whether you’ve got traditional braces or Invisalign, we’ve got the tips to make oral hygiene easy at home.

Cleaning Traditional Braces

Between brackets, bands, springs and screws, there’s a lot of hardware involved with traditional braces and that can pose a unique challenge in making sure your teeth are getting the clean they deserve.

  1. Brush at least three times a day. It’s important to brush away food debris and plaque, and brushing after every meal makes overall cleaning easier.
  2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Whether it’s manual or electric, having a toothbrush you can count on is the most important tool in your arsenal. Make sure you’re cleaning around the gum line, the tooth surface and around brackets.
  3. Use an interproximal brush. More commonly known as a “Christmas tree” brush, this handy tool is great for cleaning the spaces between and around the brackets. These brushes are especially helpful for removing stubborn food particles.
  4. Keep flossing. You might think that just because you have braces, you can’t floss. But you’d be wrong! Flossing is an important daily habit that helps remove plaque, which can give you healthy gums, fewer cavities and fresher breath. Try using a floss threader to make the process easier!
  5. Rinse that mouth. Mouth rinse for orthodontic patients should have fluoride and a cavity protector in it, and some are specially formulated for braces! These can be especially helpful for patients with braces to rinse away anything that manages to hold on after brushing and flossing. Plus, who doesn’t love fresh breath!

Cleaning Invisalign Aligners

While opting for clear aligners through Invisalign might seem like less work, there’s still a very important cleaning routine you’ll need to follow to avoid discoloration and odor.

  1. Make cleaning your aligners part of your morning routine. While you’re asleep, bacteria builds up on the trays and it’s important to start the day off right with clean teeth and clean aligners.
  2. When you take your aligners out, always rinse them off. This prevents dry saliva and plaque from building up. Cleaning those trays can help protect you from bad breath and cavities.
  3. Keep your case with you. When taking your aligners out, make sure you always have your case with you. The last thing you want to do is damage or misplace one of your trays. If your trays are going to be out of your mouth for a while, take the time to go ahead and soak them.
  4. Keep your aligners sparkling. The best way to keep your aligners clean and clear is to soak them in either Invisalign cleaning crystals or in a denture cleaning solution. Soaking helps maintain the crystal clear look of your Invisalign trays, and isn’t that the point?
  5. Take your aligners out for meals! Never eat or drink anything other than water when you’re wearing your trays. Many foods and drinks can stain and discolor your aligners and you should brush after every meal before putting your trays back in to protect them.

Above all, the most important thing to remember whether you’ve got traditional braces or Invisalign, is to continue going to the dentist every six months for your cleanings! All too often patients undergoing orthodontic treatment think that they don’t have to go for regular cleaning appointments, but that’s just not the case. The hygienist might spend a little extra time with you cleaning your teeth, and giving you valuable advice for overcoming your particular challenges.
Always wear your appliances as instructed and keep in mind that orthodontics only work if you do. If you keep up the good work when it comes to your orthodontic needs, you can be confident that the smile on the other side of treatment is one you can be proud of!

Jeff Hester is owner of Hester Designs. Jeff is an organizer of visual communication and systems. Jeff uses art, design, programming, and observation to create clear communications and tell interesting stories.

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