How To Protect Your Teeth and Gums During Orthodontic Treatment

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If you are wearing braces, oral appliances, or any other kind of orthodontic aligners, taking good care of your teeth and gums is more important than ever. Good daily oral hygiene care is needed to protect your teeth and gums from oral infections while you are straightening your teeth. You don’t want to end up with dental problems like cavities, tooth discoloration, or tartar buildup at the end of your orthodontic treatment.

When you first get your braces or wire appliances, they can hurt your tongue, cheeks, and other areas as your mouth gets used to the metal. When the wires rub against the soft tissues it can be uncomfortable or downright painful. Thanks to dental wax or silicone earplug material, you can find much-needed relief as the slippery layer buffers the contact between the metal edges of your braces and your oral tissues so they can heal.

What’s in Dental Wax? 

This wax is made from natural materials and sometimes comes with added ingredients like mint to make it taste better. Common types of dental wax may contain the following:

-Carnauba wax (Brazil wax and palm wax)
-Microcrystalline or paraffin wax

Earplugs for Your Teeth?

Another option that we have found works even better than dental wax is the silicone material sold in any pharmacy as earplugs. Strange as it may sound, this material is superior to wax because it grips the orthodontic hardware better and provides an even slipperier surface to protect your cheeks and gums than does dental wax.

Both silicone and dental wax are solid when at room temperature and then easily soften by the heat of your hands as you shape it. Just smooth it out over the parts of your braces that touch (or irritate) your oral tissues. To put the silicone or wax onto your braces, start by making sure your hands are clean and take a moment to brush your teeth. After pulling off a small piece of the material, squeeze it so it softens and then shape it into a ball. Flatten the ball a bit and gently apply it onto the braces parts or wires that are poking you.

You can keep the silicone or wax on overnight and replace it every couple of days as needed. It’s okay to eat and drink with it on the braces, but if bits of food particles stick to it or it feels dirty, you can change it out. To clean your teeth, take the silicone or wax off so you can properly brush and floss with an interdental cleaning tool between the teeth. Follow up with a fluoride mouthwash to further protect your tooth enamel.

Protect Your Teeth With Sports Mouthguards

Now that spring is here so are outdoor activities like contact sports and recreation. Whether you play soccer, baseball or skateboard, you’ll want to protect your teeth and gums while you are getting your teeth straightened. You don’t want to get a sports-related mouth injury during your treatment!

To avoid broken teeth or injuries to your lips, tongue, and cheek lining, mouthguards can protect your investment. These mouth protectors work by cushioning blows and lowering the risk of injury. A custom mouthguard can be made by our office and would be ready in three to four weeks. A custom mouthguard that perfectly fits your teeth will ensure that it fits comfortably and won’t suddenly fall out during your recreational activity. A less costly option which protects almost as well is a “Boil and Bite” type of mouthguard sold over the counter at CVS or Walgreen’s. This works just as you would think: the pre-formed mouthguard is softened by immersing it in hot water, then custom-molded to your teeth by biting into it while it is still pliable. Either method for protecting your teeth during sports is acceptable.

Protect Braces From Bad Habits

For those wearing braces or oral appliances, it’s also important to protect any metal parts from harmful habits like nail-biting, unnatural tongue thrusting, chronic pencil chewing, and even nervously picking at your wires. If you harm your orthodontic hardware it can leave you with additional appointments and even an extended treatment time. Remember to do what you can to protect your smile and call our office right away if your braces, appliances, or wires are damaged.

Never skip your dental cleanings and exams while getting orthodontic treatment, whether you wear braces, wire appliances, expanders, or clear aligners. Our expert hygienists, Rachel and Kalene, can remove harmful tartar deposits so your smile can thrive. If you would like to learn more or schedule a visit with our hygiene team, or with one of our doctors for a periodic dental exam, give us a call today!