Tooth decay, most common known as cavities, occurs when bacteria builds up forming plaque. The acid of this plaque accumulates and creates holes in the teeth. If left untreated, cavities will grow overtime and this can lead to bigger problems. There are no symptoms in the early stages of cavities. However, when the tooth decay has progressed and cavities are deeper, the patient will experience symptoms such as tooth pain and sensitivity to cold or hot drinks.
It is important to know that braces do not cause cavities. They do increase the amount of food caught in the teeth, which increases the chances of cavities. Oral hygiene is very important especially during the orthodontic treatment. While wearing braces, food gets stuck easier and in places difficult to see. As a consequence, patients in orthodontic treatment have a higher risk not only for cavities but also for gum disease.
Before starting your orthodontic treatment, you should have a first appointment in which the dentist will perform a thorough exam. Dentists need to make sure there are no cavities before referring you to an orthodontist. Patients that do have cavities need to be treated first for this problem and once they are cavity-free, the orthodontist can proceed with the braces placement process.
Some tips to follow for a cavity-free orthodontic treatment are:
1.Brush your teeth after each meal and even after snacks. Braces require additional cleanings since more food will get stuck between your teeth and wires.
2.While wearing braces, flossing becomes more painful and difficult because of the wires. However, it is important to floss at least once a day.
3.After brushing and flossing, use a mouthwash to kill any remaining bacteria that can cause cavities.
4.Use orthodontic cleaning tools:Toothbrushes for braces help clean between the wires. An optional tool that can be used is a waterpik. It is an oral irrigator that cleans by using water with a forced jet spray. A waterpik is great for removing pieces of food that are difficult to reach.
5.Avoid sticky, crunchy and hard foods that can interfere with braces and bend wires. Limit the amount of soda and sugary treats that you eat.
All patients with braces should thoroughly clean their teeth and braces after each meal. Nevertheless, depending on the type of dental braces the patient is wearing, oral hygiene can be easier or more difficult. In the case of patients with metal braces, brushing and flossing is sometimes painful and more difficult to perform. It's recommended that these patients use a proxabrush which is a small conical shaped brush that allows cleaning in between brackets and wires. On the other hand, patients that use Invisalign can clean their teeth easier since the aligners can be removed. Invisalign users should still be as diligent and dedicated to their oral hygiene as patients with metal braces. They should also remember to clean their aligners since particles of food can accumulate there. A good oral hygiene routine contributes not only to a cavity-free orthodontic treatment but also to better results during this process.