Mouth Breathing Over Time

If your child frequently breathes through their mouth while sleeping due to a blocked nose or another reason, they could be susceptible to other dental/health impairments later on. The article below from Know Your Teeth dives into this topic and explains what effects mouth breathing can cause. Continue reading below to learn more about this:

For some, the phrase “spring is in the air” is quite literal. When the winter snow melts and flowers bloom, pollen and other materials can wreak havoc on those suffering from seasonal allergies, usually causing a habit called “mouth breathing.” The physical, medical and social problems associated with mouth breathing are not recognized by most health care professionals, according to a study published in the January/February 2010 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Dentists typically request that their patients return every six months, which means that some people see their dentist more frequently than they see their physician. As a result, dentists may be the first to identify the symptoms of mouth breathing. And, because dentists understand the problems associated with mouth breathing, they can help prevent the adverse effects.

“Allergies can cause upper airway obstruction, or mouth breathing, in patients,” said Yosh Jefferson, DMD, author of the study. “Almost every family has someone with mouth breathing problems.”

Over time, children whose mouth breathing goes untreated may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces and mouths, gummy smiles, gingivitis and crooked teeth. The poor sleeping habits that result from mouth breathing can adversely affect growth and academic performance. As Dr. Jefferson notes in his article, “Many of these children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.” In addition, mouth breathing can cause poor oxygen concentration in the bloodstream, which can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnea and other medical issues.

“Children who mouth breathe typically do not sleep well, causing them to be tired during the day and possibly unable to concentrate on academics,” Dr. Jefferson said. “If the child becomes frustrated in school, he or she may exhibit behavioral problems.”

Treatment for mouth breathing is available and can be beneficial for children if the condition is caught early. A dentist can check for mouth breathing symptoms and swollen tonsils. If tonsils and/or adenoids are swollen, they can be surgically removed by an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist. If the face and mouth are narrow, dentists can use expansion appliances to help widen the sinuses and open nasal airway passages.

“After surgery and/or orthodontic intervention, many patients show improvement in behavior, energy level, academic performance, peer acceptance and growth,” says Leslie Grant, DDS, spokesperson for the AGD. “Seeking treatment for mouth breathing can significantly improve quality of life.”

At this time, many health care professionals are not aware of the health problems associated with mouth breathing. If you or your child suffers from this condition, speak with a health care professional who is knowledgeable about mouth breathing.

Updated: March 2010


Fun Teeth History from Ancient Neanderthals

Neanderthals, extinct human relatives, used to roam the earth tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists found remains in European caves and are now studying the plaque on the remains of their teeth. How’s that for fun science and history? Learn about what the scientists are discovering all from teeth in the article below.

Neanderthals once dined on woolly rhinoceroses and wild sheep, and even self-medicated with painkillers and antibiotics, according to a new analysis of their dental plaque.

But the diets of Neanderthals — the closest known extinct human relative, which co-existed and sometimes bred with humans before going extinct about 40,000 years ago — varied depending on where they lived.

Researchers sequenced the ancient DNA of dental plaque from five Neanderthal skeletons — two from Spain’s El Sidrón Cave, two from Belgium’s Spy Cave and one from Italy’s Breuil Cave. (However, the plaque sample from the Breuil Cave Neanderthal “failed to produce amplifiable [DNA] sequences,” and one of the Spy Cave individuals had DNA plaque contamination, so the researchers excluded both from the plaque analysis, they wrote in the study.) [In Photos: New Human Ancestor Possibly Unearthed in Spanish Cave]

Dating back between 42,000 and 50,000 years, the plaque is the oldest dental plaque on record to be genetically examined. The analysis revealed that some, but not all, Neanderthals were meat lovers.

The Neanderthal at Spy Cave dined heavily on meat, including the woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep — an unsurprising discovery, given that the bones of woolly rhinoceroses, reindeer, mammoths and horses were found within Spy Cave, and wild sheep lived throughout Europe during that time period, the researchers said. This Neanderthal also ate edible gray shag mushrooms, the analysis showed.

In contrast, the Neanderthals from the cave in El Sidrón were largely vegetarian. Their dental calculus (hardened plaque) indicated that they ate edible mushrooms, pine nuts, moss and poplar, likely foraged from the surrounding forest, the researchers said. Moreover, the calculus also showed evidence of fungal pathogens, suggesting that the El Sidrón Neanderthals might have munched on mold, the researchers said.

The findings show “quite different lifestyles” between the El Sidrón and Spy Cave groups, study senior researcher Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at The University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a statement.


One of the Neanderthals at El Sidrón wasn’t in good health: The hominin had a dental abscess (a painful tooth infection) and a diarrhea-causing intestinal parasite. However, the individual was self-medicating, the dental plaque analysis indicated.

The individual’s plaque showed evidence of poplar — a tree that contains the natural painkiller salicylic acid, aspirin’s active ingredient — as well as DNA sequences of a natural antibiotic found in mold, the researchers found.

“Apparently, Neanderthals possessed a good knowledge of medicinal plants and their various anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and seem to be self-medicating,” Cooper said. “The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin. Certainly our findings contrast markedly with the rather simplistic view of our ancient relatives in popular imagination.”

The scientists also examined the Neanderthals’ mouth bacteria, known as the oral microbiome, and compared the results with oral bacteria from other groups. The oral microbiome of the El Sidrón Neanderthals was more similar to that of chimpanzees and foraging human ancestors from Africa, while the Spy Cave Neanderthals’ mouth bacteria looked more like those from early hunters and gatherers and modern humans, the researchers found.

“Not only can we now access direct evidence of what our ancestors were eating, but differences in diet and lifestyle also seem to be reflected in the commensal bacteria that lived in the mouths of both Neanderthals and modern humans,” study co-author Keith Dobney, a professor of human paleoecology at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. [Microbiome: 5 Surprising Facts About the Microbes Within Us]

In addition, one of the El Sidrón individuals had the near-complete genome of Methanobrevibacter oralis, an oral bacterium that causes cavities and gum disease. At 48,000 years old, the specimen is the oldest draft microbial genome on record, the researchers said.

M. oralis also infects modern humans, and its presence in the Neanderthal suggests that the two hominins were swapping pathogens as recently as 180,000 years ago, long after Neanderthals and humans diverged as separate species, the researchers said.

The study was published online March 8 in the journal Nature.

Original article on Live Science.


A Child’s First Dentist Visit

There is always debate on when a child should first see a dentist. Some say as early as one while others say after all baby teeth are in. Either way, it is up to parents as to when they want to make the appointment. Learn some pointers for making your child’s first dentist appointment and what to expect in the article below.

When Should My Child First See a Dentist?

Your child’s first visit to the dentist should happen before his or her first birthday. The general rule is six months after eruption of the first tooth. Taking your child to the dentist at a young age is the best way to prevent problems such as tooth decay, and can help parents learn how to clean their child’s teeth and identify his or her fluoride needs. After all, decay can occur as soon as teeth appear. Bringing your child to the dentist early often leads to a lifetime of good oral care habits and acclimates your child to the dental office, thereby reducing anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future.

How do I prepare my child and myself for the visit?

Before the visit, ask the dentist about the procedures of the first appointment so there are no surprises. Plan a course of action for either reaction your child may exhibit ? cooperative or non- cooperative. Very young children may be fussy and not sit still. Talk to your child about what to expect, and build excitement as well as understanding about the upcoming visit. Bring with you to the appointment any records of your child’s complete medical history.

What will happen on the first visit?

Many first visits are nothing more than introductory icebreakers to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice. If your child is frightened, uncomfortable or non-cooperative, a rescheduling may be necessary. Patience and calm on the part of the parent and reassuring communication with your child are very important in these instances. Short, successive visits are meant to build the child’s trust in the dentist and the dental office, and can prove invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem.

Child appointments should always be scheduled earlier in the day, when your child is alert and fresh. For children under 36 months, the parent may need to sit in the dental chair and hold the child during the examination. Or, parents may be asked to wait in the reception area so a relationship can be built between your child and the dentist.

If the child is compliant, the first session often lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and may include the following, depending on age:

  • A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas
  • If indicated, a gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar buildup or stains
  • X-rays
  • A demonstration on proper home cleaning
  • Assessment of the need for fluoride

The dentist should be able to answer any questions you have and try to make you and your child feel comfortable throughout the visit. The entire dental team should provide a relaxed, non-threatening environment for your child.

When should the next visit be?

Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months. Some dentists may schedule interim visits for every three months when the child is very young to build up a comfort and confidence level or to treat a developing problem.

How do I find a good dentist for my child?

Many general dentists treat children. If yours does not, ask for a referral to a good dentist in your area. A word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member can also yield the name of a quality dentist.

Parents typically provide oral hygiene care until the child is old enough to take personal responsibility for the daily dental health routine of brushing and flossing. A proper regimen of preventive home care is important from the day your child is born.

  • Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.
  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush andwater.  If you are considering using toothpaste before your child’s second birthday, ask your dentist first.
  • To avoid baby bottle tooth decay and teeth misalignment due to sucking, try to wean your child off of the breast and bottle by one year of age, and monitor excessive sucking of pacifiers, fingers and thumbs. Never give your child a bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid as a pacifier at naptime or bedtime.
  • Help a young child brush at night, the most important time to brush, due to lower salivary flow and higher susceptibility to cavities. Perhaps let the child brush their teeth first to build self-confidence, then the parent can follow up to ensure that all plaque is removed. Usually by age 5 or so, the child can learn to brush his or her own teeth with proper parental instruction.
  • The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by good example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.

Updated: January 2007


“Spinach Teeth” Is Real

Have you ever eaten spinach and felt like your teeth had a funny feeling to them? Well it turns out that there is actually a reason for that. The article below from The Huffington Post describes the science behind it. Spinach is a good source of nutrients and it easy to eat with braces so don’t be alarmed! Read more about this:

There’s one thing we don’t love about spinach, and that’s the strange, chalky feeling it leaves on your teeth after you eat a salad made with this leafy green. 

If you’ve ever wondered what that sensation is, know that it’s not just you. “Spinach teeth” is a real thing, and it is a result of the high quantities of oxalic acid found in this leafy green.

Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring chemical found in plants ? but spinach tends to have higher amounts of it. Oxalic acid is referred to as a antinutrient, because it can bond with minerals and block the body’s ability to absorb those nutrients. In the case of spinach, that nutrient is calcium. 

Jennifer Moltoni –– administrative coordinator at the Department of Oral Medicine, Infection and Immunity at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine ? told Chowhound that when you chew spinach, the calcium in your saliva combines with the oxalic acid, and then calcium oxalate crystals are created. It is those crystals that stick to your teeth and make it feel gritty. 

“It’s almost like tiny crystals are floating around in your mouth, so that’s what gives it that unusual feeling and texture,” Jim Correll, professor of plant and pathology from Arkansas University, explained to Live Science. And that’s all that feeling is. 

There isn’t anything you can do to minimize that feeling, so just accept it and eat all the spinach you want. (Unless of course you have a tendency to form kidney stones. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor because it’s best to avoid a diet rich in oxalic acids.) 

Now that you know embrace the green with these recipes below:

  • Half Baked Harvest

  • How Sweet It Is

  • Half Baked Harvest

  • How Sweet It Is

  • Half Baked Harvest

  • How Sweet It Is

  • Naturally Ella

  • Naturally Ella

  • Naturally Ella


Sugary Breakfast Foods Should Be Limited

Doughnuts and coffee are two very popular breakfast options for many people. They are easy to consume and can be consumed on the go. However, as you already know, sugar and acid are hard on your teeth — even when you have braces. Doughnuts contain a ton of sugar and coffee is acidic and can also be sugary when you add creamers. Learn how you can avoid these cavity inducing culprits in the article below.

You’re late for work, skip breakfast and during the commute, pick up a doughnut and cup of coffee and you’re on your way. This common quick-fix breakfast scenario can lengthen your time spent in the dental chair, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

The sugars in doughnuts have been identified as a risk factor for gum inflammation and cavities. The AGD has reported findings that show the sugars in oatmeal cookies amount to only one-fifth of the sugars in plain doughnut particles.

The amount of sugar and cream in your coffee also can have a direct effect on the amount of cavity-causing bacteria. Tannins found in coffee etch into the pits and grooves of the tooth enamel, producing a rough, stained surface.

What can someone do to lessen the sugar bath their teeth receive from this breakfast combination?

“Don’t nurse your coffee or pick at that doughnut throughout the morning,” says AGD spokesperson Paul Bussman, DMD, FAGD. “When you eat your doughnut quickly, it limits the exposure time to the sugar attack.”

“Also, cut back on the amount of cream and sugar for your coffee,” advises Dr. Bussman. “Try picking up fruit or another morning meal substitute.”

Reviewed: January 2012


How Long You’ll Have To Wear A Retainer

An important step after braces is wearing a retainer.  Your orthodontist would create a custom retainer for your teeth that would help keep your teeth aligned.  The time you would need your retainer varies depending on many factors like your bite, how much your teeth moved with braces, etc.  To learn more about why you need a retainer and how long you’ll have to use it read the article from Colgate below.

How Long Do You Have To Wear A Retainer After Your Braces Come Off?

Perfect smiles don’t happen overnight. A consistent brushing and
flossing regimen, together with good eating and drinking habits, creates
a strong foundation for healthy teeth that begins at a very young age.
Yet, even healthy teeth don’t erupt in just the right spots,
necessitating braces to help correct a misalignment.

Once the orthodontia ends, however, you’ll wear a
retainer to help keep your teeth straight. How long do you have to wear a
retainer? That depends on a variety of things – here’s what you need to
know when it comes to the appliance you wear to ensure your smile
continues to look as healthy as it is.

What Braces Correct

Braces are necessary to correct a variety of conditions, as observed by the American Dental Association (ADA),
including bad bite (also known as a malocclusion), crooked or
protruding teeth, jaws that don’t line up correctly or a misalignment at
any point in your mouth. Malocclusions can be caused by an accident
that damages the mouth, thumb-sucking as a child or even premature tooth
loss. Malocclusions can be a genetic factor too.

If left untreated, any of these conditions can
cause issues that complicate a person’s growth: difficulty speaking or
chewing, tooth decay and loss, gum disease and overall poor oral health.
Nowadays braces can be constructed from ceramic, plastic, metal or a
combination of these materials. A patient’s final appliance typically
reflects how much tooth movement is needed.

When They Come Off

Having braces removed is certainly a reason to
smile, but to keep it that way, your retainer needs to be a best friend.
A retainer is a custom-made apparatus designed to keep teeth in place
after braces are finally taken off. Although this device can be
removable, your newly aligned teeth need time to settle into the soft
tissue and jawbone that house them.

Wearing a retainer at night and between meals
allows your teeth to hold their new form as they naturally try to shift
over time – which would ruin the effort and expense put into the braces
you started with.

Types of Retainers

There are two main varieties of retainers: removable and fixed.
Removable retainers easily slide out of your mouth when you eat or
brush your teeth. These retainers should be worn full-time for at least
one year after your braces are removed. The orthodontist will make the
determination for the length of time a retainer is worn based upon the
treatment he or she provided during the braces process. After that
period, if no movement is detected, your orthodontist may recommend
wearing them only at night. As the Mayo Clinic
notes, some people may wear them at night indefinitely. Fixed retainers
are typically kept in place for several years, and, according to the Korean Journal of Orthodontics, they can be worn for several decades.

As the Korean Journal of Orthodontics notes, of the two types of retainers, there are three models to choose from:

  • Fixed Retainers: These are held in place after being cemented to the backs of your teeth.
  • Hawley Retainers: The most common type, the
    Hawley adheres to your mouth’s shape and is kept in place by a wire that
    wraps around your teeth.
  • Invisible, or Essix, Retainers: These are made of clear plastic that makes it easy for you to look as if you’re not wearing it.

Retainer Care

Retainer maintenance can’t be neglected once you
start wearing one. For a fixed retainer, regular checkups with your
dentist are especially necessary to check for cavities and keep the
areas around those teeth clear of tartar and plaque. Removable retainers
can be cleaned by soaking them in denture cleaning tablets or vinegar
and water. As you can expect, they’ll be removed during these
appointments (but should go right back in once they’re done).

Just because you or your child had braces doesn’t
mean you should let up or neglect oral care. On the contrary, you spent a
small fortune on a smile that won’t stick around unless you do all that
you can to protect it. Your teeth continue to age just like you, and
that means you need to brush at least two times each day along with
daily flossing (something that braces made very difficult). Use your Colgate® 360® Toothbrush
to help remove bacteria that collects between your teeth, so that even
though you still might be unsure – how long do you have to wear a
retainer? – you’ll still be keeping your mouth in great oral health.

Article sourced from:

Foods to Avoid and Try With Braces

Braces can make chewing and eating certain foods a little complicated because of increased tooth sensitivity and the ability for hard foods to get stuck in the wires and brackets.  If you are about to get braces put on or just recently got braces you can use this article as a guide of foods that might be hard to eat and those that are easy to eat. Check it out below!

Foods to Avoid With Braces

Although sturdy, stable and advanced, braces are orthodontic
appliances that you need to treat with care. That means eating foods
that are gentle on the brackets and wires that hold your braces together
and in place. Generally, avoid all foods that are sticky, hard, or
chewy. Soft foods are most recommended for those who wear braces because
they are simply easier on your mouth hardware.

Read our list of foods to avoid as well as recommended foods for braces wearers below.

Foods to Avoid When Wearing Braces

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts 
  • Hard taco shells
  • Sticky and hard candy 
  • Gum 
  • Ice
  • Corn chips 
  • Pretzels 
  • Hard cookies or crackers
  • Sticky or hard chocolate

Also avoid biting into hard foods with your front teeth. Cut or break up hard foods such as:

  • Raw vegetables 
  • Croutons 
  • French/Italian bread
  • Fruit 
  • Hard rolls 
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Meat 
  • Burgers 
  • Sub sandwiches
  • Corn on the cob

Recommended Foods When Wearing Braces

  • Hulless popcorn 
  • Bananas 
  • Yogurt 
  • Light crackers or cookies
  • Cheese 
  • Mashed potatoes 
  • Melons 
  • Grapes 
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ravioli, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and other noodle dishes

Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet is important for
everyone’s teeth and overall health. The healthier you are, the better
the results of your orthodontic treatment because a proper diet provides
all the essential nutrients to bones and tissues undergoing change.

Article sourced from:

Braces and Electric Toothbrushes

According to Oral-B, there are electric toothbrushes that are optimal for cleaning your teeth with braces.  The type of electric toothbrush you have, however, could play a role because some might be too strong or misshaped for working on and around braces.  Read this article from Oral-B below to decide if one of their electric toothbrushes is right for you.

Electric Toothbrushes Are The Best Way to Brush Braces

When you wear braces, plaque has more places to accumulate and build
up. Learn how our electric toothbrushes more effectively clean around
braces to remove plaque and help prevent gum disease


It’s more difficult to clean hard-to-reach areas and along the gum line when wearing braces.

However, the oscillating-rotating power of Oral-B® Electric
Toothbrushes does the work for you and removes 100% more plaque than
manual toothbrushes.


The Ortho Brush Head has specially designed bristles to easily and
effectively remove plaque around brackets and other orthodontic
appliances. Simply let your brush head rest for 1 to 2 seconds on each
tooth, and then guide it along in the same manner you would if you were
brushing without braces.


All of our electric toothbrushes have the Daily Clean mode, which
walks you through a full two-minute clean, but some also include a
variety of modes. The Deep Clean mode guides you through an extra minute
on your routine to make sure you spend enough time removing plaque
around your braces, while the Massage mode lightly cleans gums to help
protect against gingivitis.

Article sourced from:

Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

Adolescents, teens and even young adults in their early 20s might experience discomfort as their wisdom teeth emerge.  There are typically four wisdom teeth, two on top and two on the bottom, that will push through your gums into your mouth.  However, the way your teeth are spaced or aligned might not give enough room for your wisdom teeth causing the discomfort and/or misalignment of the rest of your teeth.  This is why wisdom teeth are usually removed.  To learn more about wisdom teeth, read the article from Crest below.

Never Ignore Your Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

In recent years, it has become
increasingly rare for wisdom teeth symptoms to precede their removal.
Dentists and oral surgeons are more likely to recommend that wisdom
teeth be removed before they become a problem for oral health. Even
still, it’s possible to experience wisdom teeth symptoms, in which case
you should relate this information to your dentist immediately. (1)

Wisdom Teeth Symptoms and Signs of Trouble

Wisdom teeth symptoms can include pain at the back
of the mouth, behind the molars. This pain will gradually increase with
time as the wisdom teeth continue to grow in misaligned or sideways,
pressing on nerves and bone, and crowding surrounding teeth.
Other wisdom teeth symptoms include pain, redness, tenderness and/or
swelling around the site. As wisdom teeth begin to erupt through the
surface of the gums, this allows bacteria to enter through open tissue,
which can result in infection. Oral infections have been shown to affect
your overall health as well. (2)
It’s also possible for wisdom teeth to become impacted, a state in which
the jaw bone or neighboring teeth block the teeth from erupting. They
become trapped in place as their roots continue to elongate, and the
longer they remain impacted, the more likely they are to cause problems
for your oral and general health.
Wisdom teeth symptoms due to impaction include severe pain at the back
of the mouth, infection, and other complications. Foul breath, bad taste
upon chewing food, redness and swelling can all be signs of infection.
If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can breed cysts and, in rare
cases, tumors. (3)

Wisdom Teeth Symptoms and Extraction

The most common treatment for wisdom teeth symptoms
is extraction of the teeth. Wisdom teeth are believed to be
“evolutionary relics,” and were helpful to our distant ancestors who ate
diets that consisted of rougher foods like sticks and reed plants. As
teeth wore down or fell out, wisdom teeth provided replacements.
Nowadays, with modern advancements in oral hygiene and softer diets, we
don’t need these replacement teeth, but they still grow in. Essentially,
our mouths can hold 28 teeth, but including wisdom teeth, we have about
32 teeth all vying for space. Wisdom teeth symptoms such as
overcrowding, bone and nerve damage, infection, etc. can all result. (4)
Wisdom teeth extraction is generally done at a dentist’s or oral
surgeon’s office under local or general anesthesia. (4) These options
and any complications will be discussed before the extraction procedure.
If your wisdom teeth have already erupted through the surface of the
gums, they can be removed relatively easily as if they were any other
tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth can be a little more complicated to remove,
however. An incision is made through the surface of the gum above the
tooth. After that, any bone covering the tooth needs to be removed. Then
the tooth itself is extracted; sometimes, your dentist or surgeon will
need to cut the tooth into several pieces to salvage as much bone as
possible and avoid unnecessarily cutting bone or risking nerves and
delicate tissues. (3)
Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure and is likely the best
solution to relieve your wisdom teeth symptoms.



Article sourced from:

Colgate’s Tips for Adults With Braces

More and more adults are getting braces these days, and for some it’s the second time doing so.  Your smile can be the first thing others notice so there is a desire to have straight, white smiles from people of all ages.  But as adults, it can be easy to forget good oral hygiene methods, and when you have braces it is extra important to take care of your teeth.  Use these tips from Colgate below to ensure your smile will look fantastic after your braces are taken off.

Tips For Adults With Braces

by Carol Wiley

When you have braces on teeth, those teeth need extra attention to protect them from decay, staining and gum disease. You should also take precautions to avoid damaging the braces. For example, activities to avoid include eating chewy or sticky sweets, eating hard or crunchy foods, biting your lip, breathing excessively through your mouth and pushing your tongue against your teeth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.


Although brushing twice a day is the standard oral care recommendation, when you wear braces, you should brush after every time you eat — even after that mid-afternoon vending machine snack or some late-night munchies. That’s because food particles easily become trapped in the braces, and the longer those particles stay trapped, the greater risk you have of developing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush with round bristles, or an electric toothbrush if you prefer.

Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food stuck in and around your braces. It’s important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets. Brush your gum line first, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle at the bottom of the brackets. Rinse again after brushing.

Other Cleaning Methods

Floss at least once a day, making sure you floss not only between the braces but also under the wires. To more easily floss under the wires, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser, which you can buy at drug stores. Waxed floss is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces than unwaxed floss.

If you have space between your teeth, you might find that an interproximal (also called interdental) brush that goes between the teeth works better than flossing. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator. Its stream of pulsating water can remove plaque and food debris. You can also rinse with a mouthwash, such as Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™, to kill any bacteria missed by brushing and flossing.

Watch What You Eat

When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.

Hard foods are another no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

Additional Tips

If you are caught without a toothbrush, vigorously rinse your mouth with water (or mouthwash) and brush as soon as possible. Also, if your braces or wires chafe the inside of your lips, you can place a special wax on them to prevent this from happening. You can get this wax at drug stores, or just ask your dentist or orthodontist.

Article sourced from: