Patients with any type of orthodontic appliance should be cleaning their teeth multiple times a day. Situations inevitably come up when you’re on the go and need to freshen up.Do your teeth a favor and be prepared. Stash portable items in a backpack, purse, school locker or briefcase. You’ll be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful smile when treatment wraps up. Here are six must-haves for cleaning teeth on the go. 1. Water. It’s your friend. And it’s readily available at bathroom sinks. After eating, or after drinking a sugary and/or acidic beverage, if you realize your toothbrush is nowhere to be found, give your mouth a thorough rinse with plain water. Swish it around to get rid of food particles or traces of beverages. Water even helps to decrease the decay-causing acidity of your mouth. A water rinse is not as good as brushing, but it’s much better than allowing materials to remain on, and in between, teeth. 2. A toothbrush. Even without toothpaste, brushing removes food and plaque and will help you keep your teeth healthy. A travel toothbrush takes up about half the space of a regular toothbrush. But if you prefer a full-sized toothbrush, we won’t argue with you. 3. An interproximal brush. This is a remarkable little tool. It’s small and very easy to carry along. Use it to get at food that’s stuck around brackets, between the archwire and teeth, and in between teeth. It’s effective at attacking plaque, too. You may develop such a great appreciation for your interproximal brush that you continue using it after you complete your orthodontic treatment! 4. Floss. Also for cleaning between teeth, the space between the archwire and the teeth, and especially under the gumline. If you have braces, be sure a floss threader is stowed with your floss. That is, unless you are using “pre-threaded” floss, pre-cut to length and with an aglet tip (like a shoelace). Some brands come in single-use packets, which take up next-to-no space. Those with aligners may be able to use a flosser, if that’s the tool you prefer. A bonus: minty floss freshens breath, too. 5. A mirror. A pocket mirror can be handy when you brush. A post-brush check will reveal whether anything unwanted is still there. An alternative: use the selfie camera in your smart phone. 6. Toothpaste. Travel-sized tubes are convenient. Consider these “nice-to-haves,” too:
- Orthodontic wax – if a bracket or wire rubs a sore spot, wax quickly puts a stop to the irritation.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen – great to have on hand. Students may be required to leave such medicines with the school nurse.
- Remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This helps prevent cavities!
- If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
- Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Don't put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities.
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy sweets), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy).
- Make sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
Cleaning Between Teeth with Braces
Having wires that connect your braces from tooth to tooth makes flossing a challenge. But it can be done. Using Oral-B Super Floss, a floss threader (to get under the wires) or another interdental cleaner will help. Just ask us during your appointment and we’ll be happy to recommend our favorites!