How to prevent tooth decay with braces

Be proactive about maintaining excellent oral health while wearing braces.

Orthodontic braces represent an excellent long-term investment in the appearance and function of your smile.

However, in the immediate term, you will need to take proactive steps to protect your smile from tooth decay and other oral health issues. Read on to learn more about how to prevent tooth decay during braces treatment.

What is the link between braces and tooth decay?

Tooth decay and dental cavities are caused by prolonged exposure of the teeth to harmful bacteria and acids. Bacteria feed on the sugars we consume in our diet (and which stick to our teeth), creating acids which can wear down the enamel layer and damage the underlying tooth.

As it is harder to clean your teeth and gums while wearing braces, you are at a greater risk of bacteria accumulating in the mouth. The issue is compounded by the fact that food particles can become stuck within your braces – creating an even more welcoming environment for bacteria to collect.

Enhance your brushing technique

The first step is to ensure that you are cleaning your teeth and braces effectively when you brush.

Brushing after every meal — instead of twice a day — is a good idea, as it helps to dislodge food particles before they get stuck. You may need to adjust your technique, and brush more gently and more deliberately while wearing braces: use short, sweeping strokes down each tooth, rather than wide, powerful brushes across your teeth.

An interdental toothbrush is also a great idea. The uniquely-shaped bristles on these smaller brushes will allow you to access the gaps between your teeth and braces for a more thorough cleaning.

Floss more regularly and use mouthwash every day

While flossing should always be part of a solid oral hygiene routine, its important when wearing braces. Flossing is an effective way to clear food particles out of your mouth and prevent the accumulation of bacteria which can lead to tooth decay. With brushing, you may need to adopt a more patient and gentle approach to flossing while wearing braces: work the thread carefully into the braces and never ‘pull’ it free with force, as this could damage the orthodontic equipment.

If it isn’t already, ensure that mouthwash forms part of your daily oral hygiene routine. An antibacterial mouthwash, especially used before bed, can help protect you from tooth decay by ridding the mouth of harmful, acid-creating bacteria.

Watch your diet

The importance of the dietary aspect can’t be overstated. Not only must you avoid foods — such as hard candies and sticky toffees — that can damage your orthodontic equipment, but you need to ensure that you minimise your intake of sugary foods and beverages while wearing braces.

Because sugars are harder to remove from your mouth during your braces treatment, you need to give your teeth their best chance by limiting your intake of foods such as sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks.

Schedule regular check-ups

Remember that your orthodontist has planned and plotted your braces treatment – and so they will be in the best position to judge the progress you are making and the impact that your braces treatment is having on the general health of your teeth.

Scheduling regular appointments with your orthodontist will allow them to monitor the health of your teeth and provide suggestions for how to improve your cleaning routine. They can also provide a professional cleaning, should this be necessary to protect your teeth and gums from decay and disease.

How can we help?

At Dream Smiles, our qualified team of orthodontists know that straight teeth are healthier teeth. This is why we offer a range of orthodontic treatments, supporting you throughout the treatment process to ensure optimum oral health. For information about how we can help to improve the appearance of your smile, please read about our orthodontic treatments here.

Dream Smiles offers a comprehensive range of dental treatments to help restore, repair and rejuvenate your smile. At our state-of-the-art Brisbane practice, you can rest assured you will receive the best in dental care from a team with decades of experience. To book an appointment at Dream Smiles, please contact us here.

At Dream Smiles, we believe that a perfectly straight smile can be achieved at any age. For more information about adult braces and alignment treatments, please consult our Adult Orthodontics Guide.