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Straighten Up: Caring for Your Teeth During and After Orthodontia

Straightening teeth with the use of braces and retainers isn’t only about improving your smile. In fact, straightening teeth can lead to a healthier mouth. One reason? Crooked and crowded teeth can make it hard to brush and floss thoroughly, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is particularly important when you have braces.Skipping brushing or flossing can cause the enamel around the brackets to become stained or cause white spots. And if plaque — a naturally occurring film of bacteria that forms on teeth — isn’t removed, it can cause cavities. Here’s how to care for your teeth when you have orthodontia:

  • Brush your teeth gently after every meal. Food particles and plaque can get trapped more easily when you have braces. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

  • Floss between braces and under wires daily.

  • Schedule a dental cleaning every six months to keep gums and teeth healthy.

  • Use a toothbrush to clean your retainer before placing it in your mouth. Your orthodontist may also suggest soaking it in a cleansing solution.

Braces help straighten teeth, and a retainer, which is usually removable, is worn after braces are taken off. It’s easy to get lazy about wearing your retainer. But it’s extremely important to do so since it helps hold teeth in their new positions.

“Braces: Straighter Teeth Can Improve Oral Health.” American Dental Association, April 2007. Accessed 2013.

“Braces.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

“Cost and Adjusting to Braces.” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012. Accessed 2013.

“Dental Care — Adult.” Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Accessed 2013.

“Can Adults Wear Braces?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012. Accessed 2013.

“What About Home Care?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012.  Accessed 2013.

“What Is Halitosis?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry, February 2007.   Accessed 2013.

Author: Paige Greenfield
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