You will continue to use a toothbrush during your orthodontic treatment. To assist you with your hygiene during full braces, Hawkins Orthodontics will provide you with a power mechanical toothbrush that has a specially designed head for cleaning around braces. This mechanical brush has been proven to clean even more effectively than sonic-type toothbrushes and without the "tickle" that many patients object to when using sonic-type brushes. With braces on your teeth you should be brushing three times a day (mostly after meals/sugary snacks) and for three minutes each time. This is one of the most important factors in oral hygiene with braces. Very rarely will we find decay/decalcification in patients who have been following our toothbrushing regimen.
Interdental toothbrush (proxibrush)
A proxibrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. They look like small pipe cleaner Christmas trees. Use the Proxibrush gently to avoid damaging your wires and brackets. The Proxibrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums. The proxibrushes we use at Hawkins Orthodontics are conveniently small and come with covers so that you can easily keep them in your pocket or purse for quick on-the-go use.
Floss and Floss Threaders
Flossing with braces is different than without because you will need to insert the floss underneath your archwires to reach areas between teeth and below your gum lines. To do this a device called a floss threader is used. Think of it as a big, non-sharp, sewing needle with a big "eye" into which the floss is inserted. The threader then places the floss under your archwires just as a sewing needle places thread through fabric. Initially flossing with braces will take you much longer than normal. However, with practice you should have it down to about 3 minutes, which is the same amount of time you should spend toothbrushing when you have braces. Flossing once a day, at night, is adequate.
A prescription-strength sodium fluoride gel will be provided for you by Hawkins Orthodontics you when start full orthodontic treatment. It helps prevent tooth decay while you are wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful plaque acids. The use of the flouride gel does not replace daily brushing and flossing and is best done at bedtime. To apply, place a pea-sized amount of the gel on your toothbrush and apply it to your teeth during a normal 3 minute brushing session. When done, spit it out completely but do not rinse, gargle or drink any liquid as this will wash off the flouride and limit its effectiveness. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for as long as possible afterwards and this is why bedtime is the best time to apply topical fluoride.
Cleaning Your Removable Appliances (retainers/biteplates)
Brush your removable appliance(s) every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, clean the appliance(s) daily with a wet but non-pasted toothbrush. Your appliance will taste better and you will prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.
Water Pik/Aquaflosser/Waterjet /Hummingbird
These products are not as good as flossing with regular floss in floss threaders for preventing between-teeth cavities and gum disease (despite some claims otherwise) but do help as an adjunct to flossing. If you are unwilling to floss as you should during braces, the use of these products is certainly better than doing nothing to clean between your teeth and thus they are mentioned here.