Orthodontic Oral Hygiene Instructions
Daytime Hygiene Instructions
- Brush upon awakening, BEFORE breakfast. The idea is to remove as much bacteria as possible before you “feed them.” The germs that cause cavities feed off the carbohydrates in your diet and then produce acid (which lowers the pH of the mouth). In an acidic environment (pH level of 5.5 or below), enamel begins to undergo erosion (demineralization).
- Use Xylitol Mints/Rinse: immediately after snacks & meals or drinking sugary beverages. Aim for 3-5 servings of xylitol per day or about 6-10 grams total. Avoid excess amounts (greater than 14 grams) to avoid indigestion. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that helps neutralize acids in the mouth. A properly balanced pH (around 7.0) creates an inhospitable environment for tooth-destructive bacteria. In addition, the germs cannot feed off xylitol so they are unable to produce harmful acids and die. Warning: xylitol is toxic to dogs, so please store it in a safe place.
- Brush at least 30 minutes AFTER meals. This is contrary to popular belief that you should brush immediately after meals. As mentioned before, acidity of the oral cavity increases after eating carbohydrates. If you are brushing during this time period when the mouth is acidic (pH of 5.5 or lower), you are actually just brushing away layers of enamel. Therefore, it is far better to brush after the acidity of the mouth decreases (pH 7.0).
Recommended Sequence of Hygiene Before Bedtime
- Floss/Waterpik: to clean the areas between the teeth first. This allows the toothpaste to have complete access to all the nooks and crannies between your teeth. Cleaning the areas between your teeth are the most important to focus on because 80% of all cavities start there.
- Tongue Scraper: (optional) this step will help reduce the germs that cause bad breath that are primarily located on the back of the tongue.
- Brush: preferably with a low-abrasive, non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste. Rinse out thoroughly.
- Fluoride Mouthwash/Gel: rinse/brush for 30 seconds to 1 minute. After you are done, spit out the mouthwash or gel and DO NOT rinse out your mouth with any water. This will leave a thin coating on the surfaces of your teeth that will help rebuild your enamel from any harsh sugars and acids that you may have encountered during the day. Note: the fluoride gel will be in the new patient kit provided at the visit when the braces are bonded to the teeth.
*Click here for more information regarding our recommended hygiene products.
Oral Hygiene Overview
For a brief overview of oral hygiene tips, please click on the image below. It will launch our flash educational module in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about oral hygiene.
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