Good oral hygiene is vital to a healthy mouth, but there is a lot of information out there about what’s best for your teeth. How often should you brush your teeth? When is the best time to floss? Is mouthwash a good thing to use? And what is this tartar people keep talking about?
Smith & Davis Orthodontics has the answers to these questions and many more. We also know that wearing braces or clear aligners can change how you brush and floss your teeth. We have tips to provide the best oral health possible and keep your smile healthy and beautiful.
How Many Times a Day Should You Brush Your Teeth?
This may be one of the most common — and important — questions we get about oral hygiene. Some say it’s best to brush twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Others say it’s imperative to brush after every meal.
Bare minimum, you should brush twice a day, in the morning and right before bed. If you can brush after lunch, that’s even better. If you’re wearing braces or clear aligners, it would be better to brush after meals because food can get stuck in your braces and allow bacteria and plaque — that white film on your teeth — to begin eating away at your tooth’s enamel and destroying your gums. The enamel is the hard outer shell that protects the living interior of your tooth.
With braces, not brushing can lead to decalcification around your brackets. That’s when the bacteria and plaque seep away the minerals in your enamel. This can cause white spots that show up once your braces are removed. Tooth decay can also delay your braces treatment while your cavities are being filled.
If you wear Invisalign, you need to brush your teeth and rinse your trays before putting them back in after you eat. Otherwise, you can trap plaque and bacteria against your teeth and in your trays, making it easier to get tooth decay.
You need to brush your teeth twice a day, with or without braces, for at least two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You need to brush every surface of the tooth and pay attention to those harder-to-reach back teeth. If you wear braces or clear aligners, brush your teeth after every meal.
How Often and When Should You Floss?
We also get a lot of questions about flossing, especially since flossing becomes a bit more challenging with braces. How often should you floss, and when should you floss? Your parents were probably told to floss after brushing, but this is actually incorrect! You should floss BEFORE you brush.
Why the change? Studies have found that flossing before you brush moves the plaque and food particles onto the front or back surfaces of the teeth, where they are easily removed during brushing. Otherwise, you leave plaque and food particles on the clean teeth you just brushed. Yuck! Flossing first also makes way for toothbrush bristles to get between teeth easier, providing more cleaning power. Proper flossing makes for healthy gums and avoids gum disease.
You need to floss at least once a day. Some say flossing in the morning is better, while others suggest just before bed is the best time. Whichever you choose, just make sure you floss thoroughly with dental floss. Water flossers are good to use at other times of the day, but they lack the scrubbing power of dental floss, so they should be used as a supplement and not a substitute.
If you have braces, it can be a challenge getting around your archwires that connect the brackets together. We recommend using floss threaders. These thin, plastic pieces look like needles with giant eyes. You simply thread the floss in and thread it above or below your archwire. Then, you can floss your teeth like normal. It may take a bit more time, but it’s worth it to improve gum health and take care of your teeth.
What Are the Benefits of Mouthwash?
Mouthwash can have great benefits beyond just better breath. Fluoride mouthwash can provide extra protection for your enamel. That’s assuming you use mouthwash correction. Yes, there is a correct way to do it!
Fluoride creates a chemical reaction with your saliva that allows it to penetrate your enamel and strengthen it. It takes about half an hour for the fluoride to get to full strength, which is why you shouldn’t eat or drink anything for at least half an hour after you brush. That includes mouthwash! Most people make the mistake of using mouthwash immediately after brushing, but all this does is wash away the fluoride you just put on your teeth with your toothpaste.
Use a mouthwash at least half an hour after you brush. It might be a good idea to rinse with mouthwash after lunch if you can’t brush. As with toothpaste, don’t eat or drink anything after you use your mouthwash, so the fluoride has time to work.
If you want that extra protection, make sure your mouthwash says it contains fluoride. Not all of them do, and all they will provide is fresher breath. Be sure to read the label before you buy!
What Is Tartar?
You’ve probably heard of us mentioning “tartar,” but do you know what it is? No, it’s not the sauce you put on your fish. Tartar is actually a buildup of plaque on your teeth that hardens. It must be scraped off by a professional dentist to get rid of it.
Tartar builds up when you don’t brush or floss your teeth properly. It can accelerate tooth decay because it traps bacteria beneath it and allows it to sit and eat away at your enamel. That’s why it’s so important to keep tartar off your teeth.
Make sure you brush and floss regularly to prevent tartar buildup, getting every surface of each tooth. You also want to keep up with your regular, semi-annual dental checkups, even during braces treatment, for a professional cleaning. Your dentist will remove any tartar that may be trying to build up on your teeth.
Watch what you eat, as well. High-sugar foods such as candy, soft drinks, and desserts can add plaque and bacteria. But there are foods that clean your teeth. Try whole fruits and raw vegetables to help scrub your teeth clean while you eat. Just be careful to watch what you eat if you have braces – a broken bracket or poking wire may be the consequence. You can even chew sugarless gum with Xylitol, a sweetener that encourages saliva to clean your teeth!
Braces Treatment in Rogers, AR
Oral hygiene is important to your dental health and overall health anytime, but it’s especially important during treatment with braces and Invisalign. You’re working so hard to create your perfect smile. You want it to look great when it’s finished, right? Regular brushing and flossing with help with that. If you’re ready to start treatment with braces or Invisalign, contact us to set up your free evaluation and consultation in Rogers, AR.