The first thing to do is to educate yourself about what the orthodontist will stick onto your teeth. Let’s start with the main things on a typical fixed brace on the front surface of your teeth:
- Brackets: are metal or ceramic squares that are stuck onto each tooth and hold the archwire (what is this? see explanation below) in place.
- Tubes: are types of brackets used on the back molar teeth. The tube part of the bracket is facing your cheek (buccal surface).
- Archwire: metal wire (also comes in tooth colour coated) that is tied to all of the brackets and creates force to move teeth into proper alignment.
- Metal Band: is a metal ring cemented to wrap around the tooth. These are often used on back teeth.
- Ligature: can either be a tiny elastic ring (o-ring) or a twisted wire (tie wire) which are used to hold the archwire to each bracket.
- Powerchain: is made of the same elastic ligatures material as the o-rings, but these form a continuous chain connecting adjacent teeth together. They are often used to close gaps between your teeth.
If you have any concerns about your brace or your think it may have broken, then you can use the diagram above to identify the part of the brace that you are concerned about so you can call your orthodontist and ask for specific advice.
As you know brackets, archwires and ligatures will be present on your tooth which makes it even harder to clean than it already is. With these things added to the surface of your tooth, plaque will have more areas to hide so it is very important to spend more time when brushing your teeth in the morning and before your go to sleep.
I am sure that you have already developed your own routine when it comes to brushing your teeth, unless you were told otherwise by your dentist then I would suggest you continue with it as well as adding an extra 1-2 minutes to clean around your brace (total of 3-4 minutes of normal brushing). Aside from your normal routine it is advisable to brush your teeth again concentrating on the areas between the brackets and the gums; it will feel like you are brushing your gums. You should also use a smaller brush to clean underneath the archwire to clear away the plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach. You can either use an interdental brush or a single tufted brush. It is also advisable to use a fluoride mouthrinse daily. Needless to say your orthodontist will show you how to clean your teeth most effectively with your braces on.
So with the correct amount of will power and dedication, looking after braces is not as complicated as most of us thought it will be