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5 Strategies to Help Orthodontic Patients Maintain Optimal Oral Health

Adults and children undergoing orthodontic treatment need to pay attention to their teeth more than ever, but not all patients stick to a strict at-home oral care regimen.

Adults and children undergoing orthodontic treatment need to pay attention to their teeth more than ever, but not all patients stick to a strict at-home oral care regimen. Here are 5 strategies to help orthodontic patients maintain optimal oral health.

1. USE THE PROPER DEVICES

There are various types of floss, interdental cleaners, interproximal brushes, toothbrushes, toothpastes, and mouthrinses on the market to help patients maintain optimal oral health. Clinicians can offer guidance on the best tools and techniques to loosen food stuck between brackets and teeth.

2. HYPERSENSITIVITY

Ortho patients often experience dentinal hypersensitivity most commonly associated with interproximal enamel reduction and gingival recession. Over-the-counter desensitizing agents, in-office treatments, such as varnishes and sealants, and patient education on proper oral hygiene practices during and after orthodontic treatment can be provided to the patient.

3. INFLAMMATION

Anyone who has experienced orthodontia knows flossing along the gumline with braces can be a challenge. For this reason, flossing is sometimes skipped or done incorrectly, resulting in gingivitis and other problems. Patients should be reminded to floss and brush at least twice a day, if not after every meal, and clinicians should demonstrate proper technique and recommend floss threaders and interpoximal brushes to make the task less of a hassle.

4. BAD BREATH

Oral malodor is a side effect of food getting trapped in brackets and braces, contributing to poor oral health. Patients with oral malodor can be reminded to brush, floss, or rinse their mouth after every meal and snack. Removable retainers and clear aligners should be taken out when eating and cleaned as food can also stick to these devices.

5. WHAT YOU EAT MATTERS

Because sticky and hard foods can cling to braces or break a bracket, orthodontic patients should be reminded to stay away from these food choices. Cutting hard foods like apples into smaller pieces, or shaving corn off the cob to avoid the kernels from getting lodged in fixed appliances, are tips to share with those who wear braces, especially as food caught in wires and brackets can lead to problems down the road such as demineralization and caries. Instead those with fixed appliances should be encouraged to skip acidic, sticky, sugary and starchy foods, as well as carbonated and sugary drinks, and replace them with healthier choices such as cheese and water.

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