Do Braces Increase Risk of Tooth Decay?


girl smilingIf you’ve ever had a mouth full of metal, you know the feeling of having various foods stuck between wires and braces and the tedious task of threading and weaving floss through your teeth to get rid of any unwanted dwellers. But you’d also know that it all becomes worth it when the Orthodontist removes all that hardware and a perfectly straight smile stares back at you through the mirror.

But sometimes what’s staring back could be cavities and tooth decay as well. Sound dental hygiene becomes a bit harder and less convenient with braces, but if you skip the steps you’re only doing yourself and your smile a disfavor.

Here are some pointers for preventing periodontal disease and decay when sporting a little bling in your mouth:

  • When flossing: Lead a floss threader or all in one floss towards your gums in between your teeth and the wire between braces. Carefully work the floss between your teeth using a gentle sawing motion.
  • When brushing: Use either a rotary or regular soft toothbrush. Make sure to brush the top and bottom of each brace as brushing through the mouth. After a standard tooth brushing, brush with a proxabrush, a special brush designed for cleaning between braces. Work the brush from both top and bottom under the wire, between two braces. Rinse after to flush out any debris, plaque or tartar. Marielaina Perronne mentions that aWaterpik with Periogen and purple listerine is a good way to flush out while keeping your brackets shiny and elastics clean.
  • Schedule and maintain seeing your orthodontist regularly, usually every 3-4 months. Seeing them regularly not only helps keep your teeth and braces clean and working, but can catch any problem areas early.
  • Foods to avoid: Those that are difficult to bite into (beef jerky, apples, bagels, corn still on the cob). Sticky and chewy foods (gum, taffy, caramels). Hard foods and candies (nuts, carrots, ice, popcorn, hard pretzels). Also avoid chewing objects (fingernails, pencils, etc.) and opening anything with your mouth (bags, bottles, etc.).

You may be counting down the days until your mouth is metal-free, but try and have some fun with it. Play with the colors of your elastics, coordinate with holidays, etc. and before you know it your tongue will be running over a smooth set of super straight teeth! And a healthy one at that, if you implement these tips!

You can read more about maintaining good oral health while having braces here: