Orthodontic treatment is a fantastic option for people who have crowded or crooked teeth or for individuals whose upper and lower jaws do not align properly. Having a bite that is off (malocclusion) can lead to tooth decay and gum disease as well as abnormal wear of tooth enamel and potentially jaw problems if left uncorrected. Malocclusion can be inherited or it can be caused by thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use, injury, or early/late tooth loss.
Getting braces can greatly improve dental health as well as increase confidence. However, if you are considering orthodontic treatment for your child, teen, or yourself, you should be prepared to increase the amount of time spent on oral hygiene. If braces are not properly cared for, long term consequences can result.
Braces increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because of the amount of plaque that adheres to the brackets and the obstacles the brackets and wires create to removing the plaque. It is absolutely essential for a person with braces to brush every surface of the brackets and remove as much plaque and bacteria as possible. If they do not do this, the bacteria in the plaque left around the brackets will decalcify the enamel surrounding the brackets, creating permanent bright white spots on the teeth.
Although it is difficult to do so with braces, it is completely necessary to floss daily. There are products to make it easier for ortho patients to floss, so look for those and use them! One example of a helpful product is the platypus flosser (see picture below). Leaving plaque between your teeth will lead to cavities and gum disease. Don’t forget to brush your gums as well. Be ready and willing to do whatever your orthodontist/dentist recommends to maintain to optimal oral hygiene. Happy smiling everyone!