Braces improve a person’s oral health by fixing misaligned and overcrowded teeth. Many Americans are wearing this orthodontic appliance to achieve a beautiful and healthy smile. The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) revealed that at least four million people in the U.S. wear braces.
If you plan to wear braces, you’ll need to give your teeth more TLC than usual. This way, you avoid damaging your orthodontic appliance and protect your pearly whites from tooth decay, staining, and other oral health problems.
Here are some ways you can keep braces in good shape and achieve a gorgeous smile:
Change Your Eating Habits
Although you’re wearing your braces, you need to steer clear of certain types of food that may damage your orthodontic device. Here are some:
- Hard Foods – Chewing on hard candies and pretzels may cause the bands or wires of your braces to break. If you’re after the nutritional value of hard fruits and vegetables, such as raw carrots and apples, cut these foods into smaller pieces.
- Sticky Foods – Dried fruit, caramel candies, and gummy bears can get stuck in your braces. Attempting to dislodge the food particle may cause the wires or bands to snap.
- Sugary Foods – Eating foods and beverages loaded with processed sugar, such as sodas, cakes, pies, and ice cream, may ruin both your teeth and braces. These food items produce plaque acid that wears down your enamel and causes tooth decay and gum disease. They also damage the wires or bands and loosen the brackets.
Instead of feasting on hard, sticky, or sugary foods, consider eating soft and healthy foods like:
- Sweet Potatoes – This vegetable is rich in Vitamin A, which keeps the tissue and mucus membranes of the gums healthy. Potatoes also contain high amounts of keratin, a protein responsible for the development of the tooth enamel. You may bake, boil, steam, or mash the food and eat it as a side dish or a snack.
- Yogurt – Plain, sugar-free yogurt is rich in calcium, which keeps your teeth strong. This food item even has probiotics, which crowds out cavity-causing bad bacteria. If you’re planning to add fruit to give the yogurt some flavor and additional nutrients, go ahead. Just make sure that you clean your teeth after eating.
- Chicken Noodle Soup – This comfort food isn’t just for sick days. The broth comes with vitamins and protein that promotes healing. If you want to give your jaws and teeth a break from chewing, consuming chicken noodle soup is the way to go.
- Fish – Fatty fish, such as Atlantic mackerel and salmon, is a great alternative to tough proteins like pork and beef. This food is naturally flaky and soft, which is perfect if you have sore teeth and jaws. It also contains Vitamin D, a nutrient that enables your body to effectively use calcium.
- Eggs – You may poach, boil, or scramble them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. Eggs are not just a good source of protein; they come packed with phosphorus, calcium, and Vitamin D — all of which help keep the teeth healthy, build strong bones, and minimize oral decay.
Brush Your Teeth Properly
After eating delicious and nutritious food, the next thing you need is to brush away the food residue inside your mouth. While the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, you need to ramp up your oral hygiene efforts when you’re wearing braces.
You should brush your teeth after every meal. This includes small, late-night snacks and mid-afternoon munchies. Food particles are more likely to stay trapped in your braces. Frequent brushing will dislodge the residue and leave you with clean teeth. When choosing the type of toothbrush to use, opt for an electric toothbrush or a soft brush with round bristles.
When brushing your teeth, follow these steps to clean your pearly whites without damaging your braces:
- Rinse your mouth with water to dislodge and wash away any particles stuck around and in your teeth and braces
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle
- Brush your gumline gently, following a circular motion to scrape away food particles
- Brush in a downward motion for teeth located on top of the brackets, and in an upward motion for teeth situated at the bottom
- Rinse again after brushing
Floss Your Teeth Correctly
Brushing alone isn’t enough. You need to floss to get rid of stubborn food residue between your braces and teeth. Use an orthodontic flosser to clean teeth under the wires. If your teeth have gaps, you may use an interdental brush or a dental irrigator (a device that streams pulsating water) to remove debris from hard-to-reach spots.
Wear a Mouthguard (for Sports Players)
If you play contact sports like hockey or football, put on a mouthguard before you start a game or a practice session. This oral appliance protects your lips and cheeks from cuts caused by your braces. A mouthguard also shields your braces from damage, in case a ball or puck hits your face or you fall on the ground.
Visit Your Orthodontist
While you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, remember to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist for a routine adjustment. If you have any problems or concerns with your braces, such as protruding wires, bring these matters up to your orthodontist as soon as possible.
Drop by Our Clinic for Orthodontic Treatment
Yang Orthodontics is the place to visit when you want to correct teeth misalignment issues with braces. Our orthodontic office serves patients in San Mateo, Redwood City, and other neighboring areas in California. Our board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Stephen Yang, provides various kinds of braces for adults, teenagers, and kids. He places metal, ceramic, and self-ligating braces that can fix gaps or overcrowding.
Our orthodontist also offers Invisalign, a hip alternative to traditional braces. This oral appliance consists of a series of transparent and removable aligners that gradually straighten your teeth. Our Invisalign orthodontist will determine if you’re an ideal candidate for this orthodontic treatment. Give us a call at (650) 366-5758 to schedule a free consultation!