Caring for Braces: How to Prevent Tooth & Gum Issues

Getting braces is one of the most exciting milestones for any teen, but it can also be a big responsibility. Caring for braces comes with a learning curve, but it’s important to stick to Dr. Hemphill’s instructions to keep your smile on the right track in order to prevent complications like cavities, white spots, or soft tissue damage. Fortunately, the Hemphill Orthodontics team is here to help you navigate this new world of braces – so keep reading to get the details on caring for braces: how to prevent tooth and gum issues. 

#1: Keep Your Teeth Clean

First thing first: keeping your teeth clean and healthy is your #1 priority as an orthodontic patient. Caring for your braces starts with proper brushing and flossing. Here are a few tips: 

  • Floss first: using a floss threader or water flosser, gently clean between each tooth to loosen up any leftover food particles and pave the path for brushing. 
  • Rinse your mouth: rinsing before you brush can do the same thing as flossing: dislodge any food particles that may be stuck between your teeth. 
  • Use a 45-degree angle: brushing at an angle helps you get all sides of your teeth and brackets, ensuring that there are no spaces left unclean during the process. 

By following these tips, you can keep your teeth clean and plaque-free to prevent oral health issues like gum disease, cavities, or white spots. 

How to Prevent Tooth & Gum Issues

#2: Avoid Risky Foods & Drinks

One of the most important things you can do when caring for your braces is to avoid the foods and beverages that might harm your appliances, and turn to braces-friendly foods and drinks instead. Sugary foods or drinks like candy and soda can leave traces of sugar on or between your teeth – and because sugar attracts acid-producing bacteria, these items put you at a higher risk for developing cavities. 

Additionally, eating hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods (like hard candies or soft pretzels) can harm or even break your brackets, which could cause soft tissue injuries. Instead, stick to healthier, softer options like pasta or soup to eat and water to drink. 

#3: Attend All Orthodontic Appointments 

Attending all your routine orthodontic appointments will help you and Dr. Hemphill stay on the same page throughout treatment. If he notices any oral health issues, he can point them out to you during these visits and adapt your treatment plan if needed to prevent further problems. Dr. Hemphill can also answer all your oral health questions so you can get the most out of each appointment. 

#4: Visit Your Dentist Regularly

It’s a common misconception that you don’t have to see your dentist while you’re going through orthodontic treatment. Even though orthodontists are tooth professionals, we’re there to straighten your smile while your dentist is there to help you keep your teeth clean and healthy. You should continue seeing your dentist throughout treatment to ensure you’re getting the proper oral hygiene checkups, cleanings, and flouride treatments you need to keep your teeth in tip-top shape. In fact, because of the oral hygiene challenges that braces bring, we recommend you increase the frequency of these regular visits with your dentist.

How to Prevent Tooth & Gum Issues

#5: Report Damage to Your Appliance

Accidents happen! If you’ve broken a bracket or wire, call our office to schedule a repair appointment, and we’ll be happy to help. If the condition harms the soft tissues in your mouth, we recommend using orthodontic wax to cover the bracket or wire until we can fix the issue. 

Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but if you experience significant damage to your teeth and appliance, it’s important that you call our office to schedule an emergency appointment as soon as possible. 

What could happen if I didn’t follow these steps? 

There’s no doubt about it: the biggest impact braces will have on you is the lasting happiness of a confident smile. Like any other medical procedure, however, getting braces or clear aligners comes with a few risks to be aware of. Without following the tips above, you could risk: 

  • Cavities: With all that extra surface area in your mouth, there’s more space for plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – to build up, making you more likely to develop cavities. If left untreated, cavities could turn into a bigger problem, like gum disease. Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent this issue so long as you maintain a good oral hygiene routine. 
  • White Spot Lesions: Without consistently caring for your braces, they can cause other problems like demineralization, which is a breakdown of the tooth’s enamel that causes visible white spots on the teeth. However, by following the steps above, you can easily prevent demineralization. 
  • Soft Tissue Injury: Braces can sometimes cause irritation to your inner cheeks, lips, and tongue, especially when you first get your appliance or after an adjustment appointment. Fortunately, these issues are usually minor, and you can prevent them by taking the proper precautions listed above. 

Remember: oral health problems, especially those caused by poor brushing habits, can sometimes cause your treatment to last longer than it normally would. It’s very important to follow all of these steps to keep your treatment on the right track so you can get the beautiful smile you deserve in a timely manner.

How to Prevent Tooth & Gum Issues

Let Your Smile Shine at Hemphill Orthodontics

While it might feel nerve-wracking to learn about the risks of braces, the good news is that every risk is preventable. With the proper oral hygiene routine, regular appointments with Dr. Hemphill, and the right diet, you’ll get the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted without a hitch. 

Ready to get started? Schedule your free consultation with our team in Celina today!