6th July 2023

Looking after your braces

Getting braces is a life-changing experience – not just because they’ll eventually give you the straight and even smile you’ve always wanted, but also because you’ll have to adjust your habits for the duration of your orthodontic treatment.

Whichever type of braces you wear, they won’t work effectively if you don’t make some changes to your routine to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Fitting the braces is only the first step, as you must follow your orthodontist’s advice to maintain them in order to achieve the results you’re expecting when the braces are taken off.

As a leading orthodontist in Warrington ,we have some of the best tips to help make braces maintenance a breeze – take a look at the Dental Solutions guide to looking after braces.


How to clean your teeth with braces

While the general advice is to brush teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, you’ll need to be more rigorous when you have braces. It’s much easier for food debris to get caught in the brackets and wires, so you must brush more often to prevent build-up.

Brush your teeth after every meal

It’s best to clean your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste after eating – so at least three times a day, or more frequently if you’re a snacker. You may want to buy a travel toothbrush kit to carry around in your bag, so you can clean your teeth anywhere.

Brush your teeth for 2–3 minutes

Every time you brush your teeth, make sure to do so for at least 2–3 minutes. Brush gently to avoid irritating your gums or damaging the hardware, being sure to brush each surface of each individual tooth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth, too.

Use interdental brushes

Interdental toothbrushes, which look like skinny wires with bristles, can help you to clean your teeth and braces thoroughly. Their shape can reach the awkward places your regular toothbrush may miss, such as between your teeth and the wires, and around the edges of the brackets.

Try to floss every evening

If you don’t floss, it’s also a good idea to get into the habit of flossing at least once a day. It’s best to do this in the evening before your last teeth-brushing of the day, so you can take your time. You may need to invest in a reusable floss threader tool to work around your brace wires.

Rinse with mouthwash

You shouldn’t use mouthwash too often, as this can upset the balance of bacteria in your mouth, but it’s a good habit to rinse with an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash regularly. You should aim to do this after brushing your teeth at the end of each day before you go to bed.

Test with disclosing tablets

Disclosing tablets are coloured tablets that you can chew on after brushing your teeth, at least once a week, to highlight any spots you’ve missed. The tablets will stain any remaining plaque in a bright colour, so you know where to pay more attention when brushing your teeth.


How to manage pain from braces

One of the biggest adjustments when you first get braces is the discomfort of foreign objects stuck to your teeth and pressing against the insides of your cheeks and lips. It can take a few days to get used to the feeling of having braces as your mouth adapts to them.

Braces can also be a bit painful for a short while each time the wires are tightened, as your teeth and gums can take a few hours to acclimatise to the new pressure. If you experience pain or sensitivity from getting your braces tightened, you can take over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, following the directions on the packet.

You may also want to stick to a soft diet for a few days, as your teeth and gums may feel especially tender when trying to bite and chew. Of course, your orthodontist will have already warned you to steer clear of hard and chewy foods until your treatment is complete.

Your orthodontist should also supply you with a pot of dental wax. If a part of the bracket or wire is painfully rubbing against the inside of your mouth, you can roll a bit of the wax into a blob and apply it over the offending part. Just make sure it’s dry, as saliva will prevent the wax from sticking.

If your braces are very painful and this doesn’t ease off or gets worse, you should contact your orthodontist right away so they can inspect your braces and identify the problem. Similarly, if a wire or bracket comes loose, you should arrange an appointment to repair it as soon as possible.


Which foods and habits to avoid with braces

Unfortunately, there are certain types of foods that you must avoid eating while you have braces. These can get stuck in your braces and damage the wires or brackets, or increase the risk of plaque building up around them. Foods and drinks to eliminate from your diet include:

  • Sticky foods like caramel, toffee, fudge, or fruit roll-ups
  • Chewy foods like soft mints, chewing gum, or gummy sweets
  • Crunchy snacks like boiled sweets, nuts, popcorn, or corn chips
  • Crackers, pretzels, or crusty breads like baguettes or rolls
  • Hard foods like apples, raw carrots, or corn on the cob
  • Sugary drinks like pop, sports drinks, or energy drinks

There are some things you can still eat as long as you adjust your habits to be more careful. For example, if you want to eat hard fruits or vegetables, or crispy or tough meat, you must cut them into small pieces to make them easier to eat and avoid biting into them directly.

You can also eat soft varieties of crisps and chocolate in moderation, and occasionally drink fruit juices, smoothies, or fizzy drinks as a treat. You should get into the habit of drinking through a straw and chewing most foods with your back teeth instead of biting with your front teeth.

It’s best to try to reduce snacking between meals, as it creates more opportunities for plaque build-up if you don’t brush your teeth afterwards whenever you eat or drink anything but plain water. You should also avoid chewing on your fingernails, pens, or any other objects – and definitely don’t use your teeth as a tool to open packaging!


What happens if you don’t look after braces?

Keeping up a good oral hygiene routine is vital if you want your orthodontic treatment to be successful. If you don’t clean your teeth regularly and thoroughly, the food and debris left on your teeth and trapped in your braces will allow bacteria to grow.

This forms a sticky film of plaque on the surface of your teeth that can harden into tartar and form pockets of bacteria between your teeth and gums. Over time, this can eat away at your enamel to cause cavities and irritate your gums with progressive gum disease.

It will defeat your efforts to have straight white teeth if you don’t take care of them properly while wearing braces. An additional problem with consuming sugary foods and not cleaning your teeth well enough is decalcification or demineralisation, which results in white and/or brown spots that are left on your teeth when the braces are removed.

This is also why it’s important to attend your regular orthodontist appointments, so we can check the condition of your teeth and braces and address any problems before they get worse. If you’re careless with your braces and damage them, this can also delay your treatment schedule, costing more and taking longer to achieve a straight smile.


How to prevent teeth staining from braces

Braces are excellent appliances for straightening smiles, but the brackets bonded to your teeth can leave white spots behind if you don’t keep up with your dental hygiene. Failing to clean your teeth can lead to discolouration around the brackets, but there are several ways to prevent this.

Avoid foods and drinks that stain

It can be difficult to cut your favourite foods and drinks out of your diet for a long time, depending on the length of your treatment, but it will be worth it when your braces come off. Try to limit your consumption of tomatoes, mustard, turmeric, beets, coffee, tea, red wine, and soy sauce.

Reduce your sugar intake

Dentists aren’t just trying to stop you from enjoying sweet treats when they warn you to steer clear of consuming too much sugar. This is the main culprit that feeds bacterial growth, so avoid sugar if you want to limit plaque and reduce the risk of demineralisation resulting in cavities and stains.

Don’t smoke or quit smoking

The health risks of smoking are well-documented, but the many downsides of this bad habit also include bad breath and yellowing teeth. If you smoke and don’t quit before getting braces, you could stain your teeth and end up leaving uneven patches behind when the brackets are removed.

Brush, rinse, and floss regularly

As mentioned earlier, you should brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal, and aim to floss before brushing and rinse with fluoride mouthwash after brushing at least once a day. Preventing debris and sugars from sitting on your teeth means they won’t have time to stain.

Don’t use whitening toothpastes

You might think that brushing the exposed parts of your teeth with a whitening toothpaste could help to prevent white spots when you get your braces taken off, but it could actually do the opposite – whitening parts of your teeth at different rates. Stick to using standard fluoride toothpaste.

Attend regular dentist appointments

Don’t just visit your orthodontist every 4–6 weeks for your braces – make sure you’re still visiting the dentist for routine check-ups every 6 months. They can monitor your oral health comprehensively and carry out professional cleaning treatments to get rid of any build-up you may have missed.


How to remove staining from braces

The good news is that even if your teeth have white spots after the brackets are removed at the end of your treatment, these aren’t always permanent. Once your braces come off, you can get a professional cleaning and polishing treatment to remove surface stains.

If there is a concerning level of decalcification, you can consult your dentist about possible treatments, such as topical fluoride applications, which can help to strengthen your enamel and reduce the appearance of the white patches on your teeth.

If your teeth are in good condition, and the issue is mostly cosmetic, you could opt for professional teeth whitening. You should wait a month or so to see whether the brace stains fade on their own, but if they don’t improve, teeth whitening in Warrington could give you an even white smile.

Once your teeth are straightened and in the correct position, you could also consider cosmetic dental treatments in Warrington such as composite bonding or veneers to change the appearance of your front teeth. These methods can cover stubborn discolouration and restore even tooth shapes.

As long as you follow the tips above for looking after your braces and keeping your teeth clean and stain-free, you should complete your orthodontic treatment on schedule and see the results you were dreaming of right away following the brace removal.

If you have any questions about maintaining braces that haven’t been answered in this blog, or you would like to book a consultation for orthodontic treatment at our clinic, contact Dental Solutions on 01925 756 565 or at [email protected] today.

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