We’ve noticed that many people are concerned about tooth decay during and after orthodontic treatments. We thought we’d take the time to go through some of the most common questions in our latest blog post.
Before having braces your orthodontist will want to ensure that you have a healthy mouth, this is particularly true if you have fixed orthodontics. If you have fixed braces fitted while having cavities then it can be extremely difficult to treat those cavities as tooth structure may need to be removed.
Orthodontics is therefore usually only carried out on a healthy mouth, free of gum disease and for patients with good oral hygiene. A good dentist or orthodontist can help you achieve this.
The best way to do this is to ensure you have good oral hygiene prior to beginning your orthodontic treatment. Our top tips on preventing cavities whilst wearing braces are:
A variety of things can happen:
The good news is that all of this is largely preventable… Just clean your teeth whilst you have braces!
Braces put a reasonable amount of force on the tooth, however this is monitored carefully by your orthodontist so braces should not cause teeth to die.
No, braces cannot cause abscesses. Abscesses are caused by a deep infection underneath the gum of your tooth, typically this infection takes hold due to poor oral hygiene. Can you see a theme appearing here? Good oral hygiene is key to getting the best from your braces.
It’s not the wearing a retainer that could cause cavities, it’s not keeping a retainer clean that could cause cavities. You should clean your teeth at least twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste, making sure you clean in between your teeth with floss or a brush.
You should also clean your retainer. The same biofilm which you clean off of your teeth also sticks to a retainer. If it’s not removed at the same time as cleaning your teeth then the biofilm can simply be transferred back onto your teeth, effectively as though you haven’t cleaned your teeth in the first place!
This biofilm can then form into plaque which can harbour bacteria and causes the cavities.
There is no evidence to suggest that orthodontic teeth straightening makes teeth weak, so long as you follow the advice of your dentist and orthodontist by cleaning your teeth then your teeth will not be weakened.
The only thing that is slightly weaker after orthodontics is the position of your teeth, they have a natural tendency to want to return to their initial positions, this is why wearing a retainer is important.
The easiest way to determine this is to speak to your orthodontist. Most orthodontists uses tracking software on their practice computers to track progress, you should be able to see a percentage chart showing how far you are through treatment.
Teeth can look a little bit yellow after wearing braces for a couple of reasons:
If you have braces you should avoid foods which are particularly sticky chewy, these can pull off the brackets which can reduce the effectiveness of your braces.
Particularly sticky foods can also be very difficult to clean after eating, this can then leave them stuck in between your teeth enabling the bacteria to start the process of tooth decay.
Dr. Stefan Abela
BChD, MFDS, RCS Eng, MSc, MORTH RCS Ed, AHEA, FDS Orth RCS Ed
Stefan is a Consultant in Orthodontics at one of the most prestigious London teaching hospitals; Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.
Stefan is also a specialist in Orthodontics and is registered on the General Dental Council (GDC) specialist list. Stefan qualified as a dental surgeon in 2003 and underwent further training in various specialties including restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry, oral medicine and complex oral and maxillofacial surgery including the management of facial trauma.