How To Care For Your Orthodontic Appliances

Do My Orthodontic Appliances Require Special Care?

Orthodontic appliances can transform your life in more ways than one. But they do require a bit of special care to keep them functioning at their optimum level, and to ensure your smile remains healthy throughout the course of your treatment. 

How To Care For Braces

Because braces are made of brackets and wires that go over your teeth, they can present several challenges when it comes to taking care of your oral hygiene. But there are solutions! 

  • Brush your teeth twice daily, (or even after every meal). 
  • It is important to clean between the teeth as well. We recommend using floss threaders to make it easier to clean those hard-to-reach-places.
  • Mouthwash can be used to help dislodge food particles for more effective brushing. 
  • A waterflosser can also be a valuable addition to your at-home hygiene routine when used in tandem with traditional floss. 

As far as taking care of your braces themselves, there are some steps you can take to ensure they don’t become damaged.

  • Avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods.
  • Don’t use your teeth as tools.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play sports or grind your teeth at night.

How To Care For Clear Aligners

One of the biggest advantages of choosing clear aligners is how easy they make it to keep up your oral hygiene routine. Because they are removable, you can brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. 

However, it is also important to keep the aligners themselves clean, and to take precautions against damaging them. 

  • Your clear aligners need to be worn for 22 hours per day. 
  • Remove them every time you eat or drink anything other than cold or room temperature water. 
  • When removing your aligners, rinse them off with cool or lukewarm water. Keep your aligners in their case when they are not being worn. 
  • Avoid contact between hot liquids and your aligners. Hot liquids can warp the aligners, causing issues with the fit, and thereby changing the pressure they exert on your teeth or causing them to not fit at all.
  • At least once a day, brush your aligners with a soft bristled toothbrush. You can also use cleaning solutions designed for clear aligners to help keep them clean.

How To Care For Retainers

Retainers are removable appliances that keep your teeth in the proper position after your orthodontic treatment has been completed. Your need for wearing them can vary depending on your unique case, so your orthodontist will give you specific instructions on how long to wear them each day. However, there are some ways you can avoid damaging your retainers, and keep them functioning at their best.

  • Remove them before eating or drinking anything other than cold or room temperature water to avoid damaging or mishaping them. 
  • Rinse them off before putting them back in your mouth.
  • Always put retainers in their case when they aren’t being worn.
  • At least once a day, clean your retainers with a soft bristled toothbrush. You can also use cleaning solutions designed for clear retainers to help keep them clean.

How To Care For Space Maintainers

Space maintainers can take several different forms, but they all serve the same purpose – to keep teeth from shifting into a space left behind by a missing tooth. These are most common in children who lose a tooth prematurely, as the space must be kept open in order for their permanent teeth to properly erupt. Here are some tips for taking care of a child’s space maintainer.

  • Make sure your child brushes thoroughly at least twice a day.
  • Your child should avoid sticky, chewy, or overly hard foods. 
  • Encourage your child to avoid playing with their space maintainer, whether it’s with their fingers or their tongue.
  • Make sure your little one continues to visit the dentist or orthodontist regularly, either every 6 months, or according to their dentist or orthodontist’s recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about taking care of your orthodontic appliances? Find answers here!

What do I do about a broken or loose bracket? 

While brackets are secured to your teeth with powerful dental cement, sometimes a bracket can detach from its tooth. If this happens to you, don’t panic! First, assess the situation and give us a call at (707) 443-1390 to tell us what happened. We’ll guide you through the next steps, and schedule an appointment for as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few additional steps you can take to keep yourself comfortable. 

If it’s easily accessible, you can remove the bracket and put it in a small container to bring with you to your appointment. You can also use some orthodontic wax to keep the bracket in place, and to help prevent it from irritating your gums or the inside of your mouth. 

What do I do about protruding wires? 

Protruding wires can poke your mouth and cause serious discomfort. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to alleviate this until your next appointment. The first step, as with any orthodontic appliance issue, is to call Century Orthodontics at (707) 443-1390 for guidance, and to schedule an appointment if necessary. If the wire is still attached to the bracket, and only protruding a bit, you can attempt to gently move it back into position with a cotton swab or pencil eraser. Be careful not to push too hard though, as this can cause more damage. 

The best solution is to cover the end of the wire with orthodontic wax to keep it from causing discomfort until you are able to visit our office. 

What do I do if I damage or misplace my clear aligners? 

If you damage or misplace your clear aligners, call us at (707) 443-1390 right away to let us know. We will likely have you switch into your next set of aligners and spend a little extra time in them. Remember, clear aligners are ideally meant to be worn for 22 hours a day, and every hour less than that can cause delays in your treatment, and may even allow your teeth time to shift towards their original position, causing you to revert back to a previous tray.

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