You’ve decided to wear braces. Congratulations on investing in your smile for a healthier and more attractive appearance! Straight teeth are also easier to clean, maneuver around and in between, so you actually benefit from better oral health along with beautifully aligned teeth!
Cavities and Braces
But what about braces and cavities? While our orthodontist can help you align your teeth and bite, we can’t treat tooth decay and cavities. It is your dentist’s job, so if you want braces soon, make sure your dentist performs a thorough checkup. They can take care of any cavities before placing your braces.
You want to make sure your teeth (and gums) are healthy before wearing any metal or ceramic braces. Teeth are harder to clean around braces hardware with brackets and wires. And if you aren’t cleaning your teeth well, tooth decay can gain a foothold. Since the brackets bond onto and in-between your teeth, these areas also become harder to floss around, making them prime targets for cavities.
So, what causes cavities? Forming plaque in the mouth from oral bacteria, stray bits of food particles, saliva, and acids in the mouth combine into a sticky, bacterial film, which quickly hardens into tartar and calculus (that stuff your dentist eliminates during dental cleanings!). Unless removed, the acids attack tooth enamel, weaken it, and create holes in the tooth (a.k.a. cavities).
Bottom line: You’ll want to start your time in braces with your teeth as cleaned and cavity-free as possible!
Another reason you want to treat cavities (and gum disease) as quickly as possible is to minimize damage to your teeth and gums. Both conditions only worsen with time, and if left untreated, they don’t resolve themselves. The longer you wait, the greater the damage. And putting braces on weak teeth can leave you with bigger problems like cracks or fractures that eventually could result in lost teeth later.
Caring for Teeth in Braces
Once your teeth have a clean bill of health and you finally get your braces, you’ll need to go the extra mile and commit to brushing and flossing well every time you eat to keep your teeth strong and cavity-free. Keep braces clean and free from plaque to prevent decay around your braces appliances.
- Brush after each meal to prevent plaque and tooth stains. Make sure to remove all the bits of food stuck around the hardware.
- Floss thoroughly around brackets and wires and the spaces in between teeth.
- Invest in tools you will want to use and will meticulously clear away food particles and plaque. These include floss threaders, a proxabrush or Waterpik.
After spending 18-24 months in braces, you don’t want the hardware to come off only to discover cavities and weakened teeth from decay. If, for some reason, you need to have cavities treated while in braces, we will likely need to take out the wire so your dentist can get to the cavity and fill it. It also means scheduling your dental and orthodontic appointments as close together as possible so your wire can be replaced soon after the cavity is filled so that your teeth don’t move out of their new position.
You will also want to give your dentist a heads up if you notice any tooth sensitivity or pain when you chew or consume hot or cold foods and beverages. Keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible is always the goal throughout your life, and even more so when you are committed to straightening your teeth for an amazing smile!