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Protect Your Orthodontic Investment with Good Oral Care

Good Oral Care

GRAYSLAKE, Waukegan AND ROUND LAKE, ILLINOIS – If you’re going through orthodontic treatment, it means you have made a considerable investment of your time and money in your oral health.

Protect that investment by practicing good oral hygiene with the right tools throughout treatment.

“Having braces doesn’t mean that you need a lot of extra hygiene equipment, but there are some items that make it easier to keep teeth clean while in braces,” says Dr. Michael Stosich, who treats Kenilworth, Grayslake, Round Lake, Gurnee and Waukegan orthodontics patients.

For those who use a manual toothbrush, we recommend purchasing an orthodontic-cut brush, which features shorter bristles down the middle that make it easier to clean around orthodontic brackets. However, you won’t go wrong if you select an electric toothbrush such any models made by Oral-B and Sonicare. Electric brushes do a great job of keeping teeth clean between professional cleanings at your dentist’s office.

While you don’t need special dental floss while you have braces, you do need floss threaders, which make it possible for you to maneuver around your wires to floss if you are in traditional braces instead of Invisalign treatment. A water flosser also can help clean between teeth. Sonicare introduced the AirFloss in 2011, and other popular brands are Waterpik and Oral Breeze.

The Perils of Poor Hygiene
There are numerous reasons for taking care of your teeth while in treatment. One is making the most of your treatment time and getting it completed on schedule. Let’s say you get a cavity while you have braces on your teeth. It is possible that you could require an orthodontic visit to remove the bracket on that tooth, and perhaps even the archwire prior to your dentist’s appointment to repair the cavity.

After the cavity is repaired, back to the orthodontist you will go to have the bracket and archwire affixed once again. That could result in several days of lost treatment time, not to mention the time away from work or school from all those appointments.

Besides the normal risk of cavities, there are some unique oral health problems you can encounter by not taking proper care of your teeth during treatment, says Dr. Stosich, who provides orthodontics for adults and children.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to decalcification, which looks like white spots on the teeth and is caused by high levels of plaque buildup on enamel.

Some patients who don’t properly care for their mouths get gingivitis while undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is gum inflammation resulting from plaque buildup and is a minor form of periodontal (gum) disease. It causes red, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth.

“It’s important to treat gingivitis because it is easily corrected when diagnosed early,” says the Waukegan braces provider, Dr. Stosich. “If it goes untreated, it can lead to full-blown periodontal disease. Untreated periodontal disease could lead to tooth loss and bone loss in the jaws.”

Obviously, it’s easier to keep your teeth clean if you’re in Invisalign treatment, which features a system of removable plastic aligners that make brushing and flossing a cinch. But having conventional braces, clear brackets or lingual braces certainly doesn’t mean that your oral hygiene can’t be as good as if you had no braces on your teeth, Dr. Stosich says.

Oral Care After Braces
Once the braces come off, you can resume your normal oral hygiene routine without the need for floss threaders, or perhaps even water flossers. But don’t forget to care properly for your retainer. This appliance will be a part of your life for some time, and tartar can build on it if it isn’t cleaned properly.

Retainer cleaners are available on the market. You also can soak them in a container of hydrogen peroxide.

Keeping this information in mind will set you up for success while you’re in treatment, and pave the way for a healthy smile for life.

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  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting