Not only is October National Orthodontic Health Month and National Dental Hygiene Month, but October also happens to have Dr. Godley’s favorite spooky fun holiday - Halloween! What better way to celebrate all three than by discussing how to prevent SCARY dental hygiene with braces. Let's review a few helpful “TRICKS" on how to keep your smile healthy, braces intact, and still celebrate an awesome Halloween!
Can I eat Halloween candy with braces?
YES - You can absolutely enjoy candy while wearing braces. However, it is important to be selective in which treats you choose in order to avoid damaging your braces and prevent cavities. Broken brackets will require extra trips to the orthodontist to repair, and multiple broken brackets will extend your time in treatment. To help you select which treats to enjoy and which to avoid, here is a "Bad, Better, Best" treat list - Halloween Candy Edition!
Gummy or sticky candies
Candies with nuts
Sour Patch Kids
Milk chocolate (without nuts or caramel)
Reese’s peanut butter cups
M&Ms (without nuts)
Sliced apples with peanut butter
Also - keep in mind the drinks you enjoy that might have added sugar - like soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Sticking to the “Better” and “Best” lists will help you keep your braces intact, and your smile healthy.
Trick or Truth: Do Clean Teeth Really Move Faster?
Yes, it’s no TRICK - a clean mouth allows for healthier, more efficient tooth movement. This can reduce your time in orthodontic treatment. Plaque and bacteria cause gingival inflammation (also known as gingivitis), which makes gums puffy, thick and overgrown. This can create more areas where plaque and bacteria can hide, and more tissue for the tooth to move through to straighten out. Patients that have gingivitis also have a higher risk of dental decay (cavities). If decay occurs during orthodontic treatment, treatment may have to be paused until treatment is completed with your dentist, which can increase your orthodontic treatment time.
Is your dental hygiene starting to look SCARY?!
Plaque (bacteria) sticks to teeth, commonly along the gum-line and in between teeth. Adding braces or Invisalign attachments to teeth creates more surfaces that bacteria can cling to. When plaque is allowed to sit on tooth enamel for long periods of time, bacteria in your mouth utilize sugar from your diet to form acid. These acids will start to break-down tooth enamel and create white spots. White spots are scars on the tooth called enamel decalcification, and represent beginning stages of cavities.
Don't be frightened - here are some hygiene TREATS to prevent white spots:
Whites spots and cavities are 100% preventable with good oral hygiene. Follow these hygiene recommendations to ensure a healthy smile during orthodontic treatment.
1) Brush your teeth properly. If you are in orthodontic treatment with braces or aligners, ideally you should brush after every meal. This won't always be feasible, and that's okay. At a minimum, you must brush at least 2 times a day for at least 2 minutes. Night-time brushing is the most important time to brush your teeth to remove all the food and bacteria from your teeth before going to sleep.
2) Use an electric toothbrush. It’s a fact that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual brushes. The vibration can also loosen the bacteria that is harder to reach in all the nooks and crannies around braces. It does not matter what brand of toothbrush you buy. We recommend a rechargeable brush as opposed to a battery-powered brush.
3) Don't skip flossing. No matter which type of toothbrush you use, a toothbrush can never clean well in between your teeth, especially with braces and wires on your teeth. Try using floss threaders or a water flosser every day to clean between your teeth. Water flossers are great tools to help wash out food and plaque from around braces and in between teeth. They are an effective, gentle alternative to floss.
4) Stay hydrated and drink lots of water. This is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do. Drinking water helps in both preventing dry mouth and rinsing away harmful bacteria and food debri from your mouth.
5) Visit your dentist regularly. Because braces and Invisalign attachments place teeth at a higher risk for gum disease and cavities, it is crucial to maintain your regular dental check-ups and cleanings with your general dentist during orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists specialize in moving teeth and jaws, and do not typically provide dental cleanings.
What can be done if you already have white spots on your teeth?
If you are already starting to see white spots on your teeth you can help remineralize the areas of decalcification to reduce the appearance and prevent further damage. To minimize decalcification damage, follow the above prevention recommendations and try adding one or multiple of the following:
1) Start using a prescription strength fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps re-mineralize enamel. Most over-the-counter toothpastes have about 1000 ppm fluoride. Prescription fluoridated toothpaste has 5000 ppm fluoride. The added fluoride can prevent decalcified areas from worsening or becoming cavities, as well as prevent more white spots from forming. You'll need to ask your dentist or orthodontist about this type of toothpaste. Examples of prescription fluoride toothpastes are Prevident5000 and Clinpro5000.
2) Use MI Paste. MI paste contains a special protein called Recaldent that helps to maintain a high concentration of calcium and phosphate on the tooth, which both helps re-mineralize tooth enamel as well as improve saliva flow and fluoride absorption. Recaldent can also help with the appearance of white spot lesions and lower the risk of other white spot lesions forming. Recaldent is a milk-derived protein, so patients that have a lactose allergy should avoid MI paste.
3) Use an OTC mouth rinse containing fluoride. Fluoride mouth rinses (such as ACT, Hello, Listerine Total, Crest Pro-Health, etc) can be a great way to incorporate fluoride into your hygiene routine to help remineralize the decalcification areas. However, mouth rinses only contain roughly 400 ppm fluoride, while most toothpastes contain 1000 ppm. Therefore, you should try using over-the-counter mouth rinses separate from brushing. We recommend using the mouth rinse after eating a morning or afternoon snack. Not only will the fluoride help remineralize and prevent more white spots from forming, but swishing mouth rinse will help dislodge food debris that may be stuck around your braces.
4) Schedule an extra dental cleaning with your hygienist. If you have white spots or have trouble maintaining proper oral hygiene, you may need to see your dentist for a cleaning every 3 months instead of every 6 months to help reduce the worsening of the decalcified areas and prevent costly cavities.
Will white spots will go away on their own?
White spot lesions are a change in the structure of your tooth enamel, and as a result, they are unlikely to be completely removed. However, you can improve their appearance by using the products mentioned previously. There are also treatments that can be performed by your dentist that can also more permanently remove the appearance of the white spot lesions.
1) Curodont Treatment. This new non-invasive treatment is a one application, 5-minute, professional dental treatment designed to naturally remineralize and repair non-cavitated lesions. It promotes natural remineralization by formation of hydroxyapatite crystals within the enamel.
2) Resin infiltration. This treatment involves removing a very thin layer of enamel, and applying a tooth-colored resin to the enamel.
3) Enamel Microabrasion. This method gently removes a thin layer of tooth enamel to minimize the contrasting colors of the white spots.
4) Restorative Dental Treatment. If the white spot lesions become severe or decay has occurred, then the only option may be to place a dental restoration (filling), veneer, or crown. Your dentist can help guide you with recommendations.
For more tips on how to keep your smile healthy during orthodontic treatment, visit our resources page: