Wearing braces means learning about a whole new world of dental accessories. Brackets. Arch wires. Ligatures. Rubber bands. Wax.
And you’ve probably discovered that some of your old accessories need to be upgraded. Your old floss has been replaced by floss threaders, to make getting around wires and brackets easier. Perhaps your wooden or soft picks have given way to an interdental brush, designed to get food particles out of tight spots in and around your braces.
So with all of these changes, should you stick the familiar toothbrush that’s worked for you all these years, or should you take this opportunity to try out some new technology that offers all the bells and whistles? Let’s answer that question with a few more questions.
Happy with your manual brush?
If you like your manual toothbrush and it’s doing the job, by all means, stick with it. But even your old familiar brush might need a few upgrades:
- Soft bristles are always the way to go. Medium and hard bristles can be too abrasive for your enamel.
- Look at a brush with a small head. You want to be able to maneuver around brackets and wires to clean every tooth surface.
- Change your brush regularly. Brushes are effective for about three months before the bristles start to fray and breakdown.
How are orthodontic toothbrushes different?
Special orthodontic toothbrushes are designed with features to make it easier to clean around wires and brackets. These features can include:
- V- or U-shaped bristle formation, with longer outer bristles and shorter bristles inside to make it easier to brush over and around your braces.
- Curved bristles to reach under wires.
- Easy-grip handles, which allow you to hold your brush at any angle comfortably.
- Smaller heads to fit into hard-to-reach places (especially important if you wear lingual braces).
What can an electric toothbrush do for you?
If you haven’t tried an electric toothbrush before, you might find that getting braces is a great reason to give one a spin.
- Electric toothbrushes can outperform manual models. A dedicated brusher can manage hundreds of brushstrokes for each minute of brushing,
while an electric brush can provide thousands. If, despite your regular brushing, you have plaque build-up around your brackets, an electric brush might be a good alternative to your manual brush.
- Models are available which can alert you when you’re brushing too hard—which is important for your wires and brackets if you tend to be a heavy-handed brusher.
- There are tapered electric brush heads designed just for orthodontic patients.
Why use a water flosser?
If you’re still having trouble removing plaque around your braces, consider a water flosser.
- With their pulsing streams of water, water flossers can reach spots where regular brushes and flosses just can’t comfortably fit.
- If you wear lingual braces, you know it can be awkward trying to clean around the brackets and wires on the inside surfaces of your teeth. Water flossers allow you to direct the flow just where you need it.
- Some models are available with special orthodontic tips and tapered brushes to make cleaning around your braces even easier.
Is your current brush doing the job?
You’ll be spending more time brushing and flossing now that you have braces. Brushing after every meal and snack is a good idea to prevent plaque buildup–and to prevent unsightly food particles from sticking around in your brackets and wires.
So, should you stick with the familiar toothbrush that’s worked for you all these years, or take this opportunity to try out some new technology that offers all the bells and whistles? The answer is clear: the right brush for you is the one that works!
If your regular checkups show that plaque is under control, you’re doing just fine with the brush in hand. If you, your orthodontist, or your dentist notice plaque buildup, it’s time to consider making some changes. Whether it’s a question of tools, techniques, or time spent brushing, the team at Bel Air Orthodontics is here to answer your questions.