It’s a question that often doesn’t arise until after you start orthodontic treatment. Your dentist and your orthodontist recommended braces or clear aligners to correct a misalignment in your teeth or jaw, so you have had a lot of attention from both professionals to get this far. Now that it’s been about six months, your dentist is reminding you it’s time for your regular exam and cleaning. Is that necessary, though?
Yes, it is! Don’t assume your teeth are fine as you work through your orthodontic treatment plan. In fact, some appliances, like braces, make your teeth more susceptible to the build-up of tartar and plaque. Dental checkups with braces are still necessary, whether you have metal, ceramic, or lingual braces, or clear aligners. All types of braces or aligners make it more challenging to keep your teeth clean, so go ahead and make that appointment with your dentist. It is necessary.
In this article, we will discuss why it’s so important to maintain optimal oral hygiene while you have braces, the role of your dentist during that time, and answer some common questions asked by those who wear braces about their overall dental health.
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment
Your orthodontist is the gatekeeper of all things related to your braces. This includes how to care for the braces or aligners as you brush and floss every day. Of course, the orthodontist cares about your overall dental health, too. They know that brushing and flossing will be more challenging while in braces, so it’s important to spend additional time following their instructions carefully. Your overall orthodontic treatment will be more successful, and your dental appointments for cleanings and exams will have better results.
If you neglect your regular dental exams and cleanings, here are some things that could happen:
Gum disease (gingivitis)
Bad breath (halitosis)
Tooth pain or sensitivity
Don’t spend time and money on straightening your teeth or realigning your jaw only to have one or more of these problems when the braces are removed.
The Vital Role of Your Dentist During Orthodontic Treatment
Your regular dentist is the gatekeeper of anything related to your oral health. This includes during the time you have braces. The dentist will treat cavities and many other dental issues, or they will refer you to a specialist. And they were probably the one who diagnosed your need for braces, just as they help you maintain clean, healthy teeth.
Your dentist usually takes care of fillings, root canals, gum care, veneers, bridges, false teeth, and preventative education and care. All this attention must continue during your time with braces. Also, it’s to their benefit to track your progress with your braces since they are responsible for your overall oral health.
Let’s dive deeper into this.
Why Is It Important To Get Dental Checkups and Frequent Cleaning With Braces?
You are at higher risk of developing cavities when you wear conventional braces or clear aligners like Invisalign. Your orthodontist will give you instructions on brushing and flossing with braces, but you’ll find it’s a bit harder to do with wires, brackets, and bands on your teeth. Getting your toothbrush and floss between your teeth and around wires, brackets, and bands is more difficult and takes more time.
If bits of food remain between your teeth, plaque and tartar can build up and this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Over time, the bacteria causes cavities and it can even begin to enter your body and cause major health issues like heart problems and other diseases.
This is why it is so important to see your dentist for regular exams while you have braces. They will repair any cavities and help maintain your oral health. Their hygienists will remove plaque and tartar on the teeth and this will help in preventing bacteria from building up to dangerous levels.
Your dental health team is an important part of your orthodontic care for these reasons. When your braces are removed, you will have beautiful, straight teeth in a healthy mouth.
How Often Should I See the Dentist?
The minimum for dental exams and cleanings when you don’t have braces is once a year. Many dentists recommend twice a year and most dental insurance companies will pay for two visits. However, while you have braces, your dentist and the orthodontist may want you to see your dentist two to four times a year.
The number of times will depend on the condition of your teeth and gums. If you develop cavities regularly, even without braces, it will be critical to have a professional hygienist clean your teeth more than once a year. With braces, your risk factor for dental problems increases for the reasons discussed earlier in this article.
In other words, too much isn’t possible. Don’t take chances with the sparkling new smile you are working so hard to achieve!
What Can I Do To Help Make My Dental Visits Better?
Your mouth is getting a lot of attention now that you have braces and some people become overwhelmed. The worst thing that can happen is to avoid your regular dental visits completely. Here are some things you can do to help you relax at your appointments and make them better overall:
#1 – Communicate With Your Dentist
If you are anxious and nervous before any dental appointment, discuss your feelings with your dental team. They are willing to do whatever it takes to reduce your stress about your visits.
#2 – Take Time to Relax Before Your Visit
Do whatever helps you. That may be yoga, meditation, music, or talking with a friend. A relaxed frame of mind before you go to the dentist can ease your anxiety.
#3 – Take a Comfort Item With You
For adults that may mean a book or music you enjoy. For children, it might be a toy or stuffed animal they love.
#4 – Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Get to Your Appointment
Running late produces its own anxiety and you don’t need added stress. Being early is always better than being late.
Diligence with Your Dental Care Is the Key
When you are wearing braces, regular brushing, flossing, and other oral hygiene habits are even more important. All of your regular oral health actions are more difficult with braces and other orthodontic appliances, so don’t avoid your trips to your regular dentist for routine exams and cleanings.
If anxiety takes over due to increased attention on your mouth, give yourself additional time to prepare for your appointments, relax, and discuss how you are feeling with your dentist.
Here at Swiatek Orthodontics, your healthy smile is our top priority. No matter if you and your family are visiting our Glen Mills or Chester Springs office, you can always count on us for a friendly environment and a stress-free orthodontic experience. Contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a consultation. We look forward to making you smile!