Dr. Michael C. Hollen
Family Orthodontics

319-236-1777

Caring for Braces


Brushing Your Teeth is Your Responsibility
One of the common fears about orthodontics is that the bands or brackets may cause decay.  In reality, bands and brackets actually cover and protect the portion of your teeth they are bonded to as long as they are firmly attached.
Unfortunately, it is true that the bands or bonded brackets can make your teeth harder to clean.  The brackets, tubes, and wires tend to create a little shelf around the outside of the teeth which makes it harder for your toothbrush to clean the spaces between your gums and the attachments.

If you fail to get the teeth clean and to exercise your gums, the the gums swell and make if even more difficult to clean.  Foods that usually slide across the teeth and gums during chewing are prevented from this normal function.

CONTINUED NEGLECT OF THESE AREAS WILL RESULT IN DECAY.
WHEN TO BRUSH
Brush your teeth within 5 minutes after you eat.  This can be inconvenient at times so we suggest that you carry a travel toothbrush with you at all times.
HOW TO BRUSH
1. First, move the brush back and forth across, brushing between wires and gums in the upper and lower arches, to loosen the food particles.  When you brush the gums you will also be brushing the most difficult-to-reach areas of your teeth, the shelf between your teeth and gums.

2. Next, brush in the following was as if you had no appliances on:
A. Start on the outside of the uppers with bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gums or shelf.  Scrub, with a circular motion, two or three teeth at a time using 10 strokes, and then move on.
B. Do the same on the inner surfaces of the uppers,
C. Scrub the chewing surfaces last,
D. Start on the outside of the lower teeth and repeat this process.  Remember, direct the brush at an angle toward the gum.

3. Rinse your mouth and toothbrush. LOOK IN A MIRROR to see if you have missed any places.  Check the little half-moon spaces of tooth between the brackets and gums and the space between the molar tubes and gums.  If you see any areas you have missed, clean them now.

4. When you have finished, the brackets and wires should be free of all food particles and the soft whit coating (called plaque).  The braces should look clean and shiny.

A FINAL WORD
Using mouthwash can be very helpful but it is to be used after thorough brushing and flossing.  It is not a substitute for brushing but does rinse out food particles that the brush and floss cannot.

REMEMBER-WE KNOW
It's not easy to brush now that you have braces; it is actually a lot harder.
Braces are a natural food trap but, no one wants food or plaque left on your teeth!  We will help you with instructions and guidance along the way to ensure you have the skills you need to keep your teeth clean throughout your time with braces, keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
EATING HABITS & ORTHODONTICS
Hard food may do damage by bending wires, loosening cement under the bands, or breaking the little brackets and tubes that are attached to the bands or boded directly to your teeth.
DON'T EAT:  popcorn, nuts, peanut brittle, ice (not even if you're careful), lemons (pure lemon juice destroys tooth enamel), corn-on-the-cob, corn chips, crisp tacos.
STICKY FOODS:  like caramels or taffy should not be eaten because they can damage appliances by bending wires and pulling cement loose.
MAYBE EAT:  carrot sticks (only if you cut them into thin curls), apples (if you cut them into small wedges), fard french bread.

FOODS THAT ARE APPEALING BUT DANGEROUS TO YOUR APPLIANCES
Foods high in sugar content should be avoided whenever possible.  If you do eat any of them, eat only with a meal and brush your teeth immediately after.  If it is inconvenient to brush, then always rinse your mouth with clear water after eating very sweet beverages or foods like cake or pie.

An orthodontic patient who is very careful can still eat many foods and not damage their braces.  Keep in mind that there are a lot of foods that may cause you trouble so, to be safe, ask us if you are in doubt.

These three types of foods do cause trouble so, remember:
NOTHING VERY SWEET,
NOTHING STICKY,
NOTHING HARD!