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Tooth Decay With Braces: Prevention and Treatment

September 20, 2021

The Basics of Tooth Decay with Braces 

For people with braces, taking care of their teeth is probably on their minds all the time, right? However, tooth decay can be a severe problem if not taken care of quickly. Contact our offices if you want to speak with our professional staff.   While brushing regularly and flossing are essential to take care of your teeth at home, what you eat can significantly affect keeping your teeth healthy. But first, let us talk about tooth decay and food.

Tooth Decay and Food

Tooth decay is the most common chronic dental disease among people. This occurrence happens when plaque and bacteria interact in your teeth. Bacteria acts on plaque and food leftovers to produce acids that break down tooth enamel. The result of this biochemical interaction makes teeth more susceptible to breakage and temperature sensitivity. In addition, tooth decay can happen if you eat sugary foods frequently. Candy, soda, baked goods, etc., are all examples of high sugar-containing foods that are bad for your teeth.

Tooth decay occurs continually over time as bacteria make acid in plaque which leads to demineralization (the loss of minerals) in the enamel surfaces of the tooth. Tooth decay can lead to cavities or tooth loss. 

A sugary diet has the potential to make any individual more susceptible to tooth decay. While it is impossible to avoid ingesting sugary foods, having healthier eating habits and oral hygiene can help prevent tooth decay or lessen its severity. 

Eating a diet rich in fiber and low in sugars and carbohydrates can help reduce tooth decay. However, tooth decay also increases when an individual consumes many acidic foods and drinks, including citrus fruits, pickles, sauces, vinegar, soda pops, etc. In addition, eating such foods at night when going to sleep can also lead to tooth decay. This is especially true if you fail to brush your teeth overnight. You can find detailed dental care information in the American Dental Association


Can Braces Cause Tooth Decay

If you have metal braces, your teeth are going to be more susceptible to tooth decay. Tooth decay with braces is a huge problem today as plaque is highly likely to accumulate along the edges of the wires. This accumulation of plaque is made worse by the ability of the braces to encourage the growth of bacteria at points of contact between the metal wires and the teeth.

What happens if you have tooth decay with braces?

Braces hinder toothbrushes from reaching all the way around them and effectively brushing away plaque. Tooth decay is, therefore, more likely to occur if plaque is not removed regularly and especially for people using braces. People wearing braces have to be extra careful with their oral hygiene to ensure that tooth decay does not occur. 

To discourage these problems from occurring while wearing braces, insist on healthy eating habits and oral hygiene. You can also learn about how braces work.  

Read about other dental patients’ experiences with braces.

How do you prevent tooth decay with braces?

There are many ways you can maintain good hygiene when wearing braces and therefore prevent tooth decay.

  1. Brush after every meal:

    Brushing after each meal is extremely important for those who wear braces, but brushing too hard may damage the tooth enamel and cause further issues. It’s best to brush as gently as possible with a soft bristle brush (toothbrushes come in different textures) and fluoridated toothpaste. If possible, use an electric toothbrush; these devices may be gentler and more effective than manual brushing.

    Use fortified fluoride toothpaste: Brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is the best way to clean your teeth and gums. Fluoride strengthens enamel and helps remineralize any areas that have been decayed by plaque or bacteria. You can also purchase fluoride foam sticks or tablets at your local drugstore for even more protection.

  2. Use a Waterpik:

    This device uses water pressure to remove debris from between your teeth and around braces. It’s great for those who may not like using floss or just don’t do it often enough. 

  3. Floss:

    It’s important to floss at least once a day, even though it can be challenging to do so. Flossing removes bacteria and plaque from between your teeth that are otherwise inaccessible to toothbrushes or water jets. Flossing also prevents gum disease and tooth decay.

  4. Clean your toothbrush:

    It’s essential to clean your toothbrush regularly by swishing it in a mixture of three parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide. Then, rinse with tap water before using it again. This will kill any potentially harmful germs on the brush head. 

  5. Store your toothbrush upright:

    Keep the toothbrush’s bristles pointing upwards towards the ceiling when not in use, as this allows air to circulate around it and keep it dry. This is especially important after brushing with toothpaste, as toothpaste tends to leave the bristles of your toothbrush moist, which can increase the number of harmful bacteria on them. 

    Practicing diligence and patience in oral hygiene is the only sure way to be safe from tooth decay before and after wearing braces. For more detailed information on how to prevent the demineralization of your enamel, reach out to one of our dentists today!

5 steps to avoid tooth decay with braces