Best Practices for Caring for Orthodontic Appliances

woman caring for orthodontic appliancesIf you’re receiving care from an orthodontist, you’re probably using an orthodontic appliance. These pieces of rubber, wire, and metal will get you on your way to a healthy, beautiful smile, but you’ll have to put in a little effort to ensure you get the results you want. Whether your new gear is a retainer, mouth guard, palatal expander, or braces, caring for orthodontic appliances is a necessity.

 

Caring for Removable Orthodontic Appliances

Retainers and mouth guards are the most common removable orthodontic appliances, and they require the same general care. Below are a few hints for taking care of removable appliances.

Remove Before Eating and Brushing

One crucial aspect of care is to remove your appliance before eating and brushing.

Eating causes build-up and can even cause damage. For example, the delicate wire of retainers cannot withstand heavy crunching or chewing. Additionally, eating with removable appliances in place can trap food beneath or behind them. This can cause tooth decay and also complicate or prolong orthodontic treatment.

Brushing your teeth with removable appliances in place increases the likelihood that your teeth and gums will not be adequately cleaned. You will need to remove your orthodontic appliance to reach every area of your mouth and prevent decay from getting a foothold.

Cleaning Your Removable Appliances

Removable appliances should be cleaned daily to remove bacteria, food, and debris that can lead to bad tastes and odors or contribute to tooth decay. To clean a removable appliance, rinse it thoroughly with warm water whenever you take it out of your mouth. Do not use hot water, and never immerse any orthodontic appliance in boiling water in an attempt to sterilize it. This will lead to warping and break your appliance.

In addition, be sure to brush your removable appliance at least once per day. You can use toothpaste if you wish, but avoid abrasive compounds to prevent scratching soft components. Rinse the appliance after brushing, and keep it stored in a clean, dry location away from moisture. Do not store a removable appliance in a sealed plastic bag, as bacteria will quickly multiply in the damp environment.

Once per week, you will need to provide your removable appliance with a thorough cleaning. Soak the appliance in a solution of warm water and baking soda for two hours. You can also use denture cleaning tablets! Do not use bleach or alcohol; these chemicals could damage the appliance.

 

Caring for Fixed Orthodontic Appliances

Fixed orthodontic appliances include braces and palatal expanders. Caring for orthodontic appliances that cannot be removed is slightly different, but no less important. These appliances can be damaged if neglected or abused, making proper care a critical part of your orthodontic treatment.

Avoid Hard & Sticky Foods

Fixed orthodontic appliances are vulnerable to damage from certain foods. The best course of action is to avoid certain culprits. Crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, hard candies, and ice can destroy fixed appliances. Additionally, sticky foods such as gum and cheese can make cleaning difficult and can even cause breakage.

Clean Fixed Appliances Often

Another problem associated with neglected fixed appliances is tooth decay. Brush your teeth and orthodontic appliances after meals or at least twice per day. Be sure to brush in and around appliances, and use a soft toothbrush to avoid damaging delicate components.

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t brush, swish around warm water to rinse your teeth and appliances, or use a non-alcoholic mouthwash.

In addition to brushing, be sure to floss! If you find that ordinary dental floss snags on your orthodontic appliance, use specialized floss designed for use with braces or other orthodontic obstructions.

 

Caring for Headgear

Headgear belongs in a class of its own when it comes to maintenance. Most headgear doesn’t require regular cleaning, but wiping down the wire and neck strap can help the appliance maintain its durability. Do not immerse your headgear in any cleaning substances, as these can cause damage.

 

If you have questions about the care and maintenance of any orthodontic appliances, be sure to contact your orthodontist! If you’re looking for a new orthodontist or dentist, Simply Beautiful Smiles is here to help! Our team is ready and able to help you with all of your orthodontic needs.

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