The numerous benefits of wearing braces include increased confidence and better oral health. However, braces require consistent care throughout the entirety of your treatment. Compromising your oral hygiene during this process can lead to tooth decay, an issue that those with braces need to be able to recognize and treat as soon as possible.
Braces do not cause tooth decay, but those who wear braces should know the risk factors of not maintaining good oral health practices. Continue reading to learn about the signs of tooth decay in those who wear braces and the preventable causes that can lead to it.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay most commonly begins with cavities, which are permanently decayed areas on the surface of the tooth. As these areas corrode, small holes form in the enamel. If these holes are not filled by a dental professional, the decay will spread, eventually leading to infection and tooth loss.
Many factors contribute to tooth decay, including the straightness of the person’s teeth. Crooked teeth leave more areas for food to hide from your toothbrush, leading to pockets of plaque that can cause decay. Additionally, your diet impacts the rate of decay since foods high in sugar and those that get stuck more easily between your teeth are more likely to cause a buildup of bacteria.
Importantly, braces do not cause tooth decay. However, they can make your oral health regimen difficult to uphold, which can indirectly contribute to decay. Look for these signs of tooth decay in yourself or your child so you can catch it early when treatment is easiest (cheapest).
Signs of Tooth Decay
Some signs of tooth decay can be seen – others can only be felt. Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or acidic food is often one of the first signs of decay. The sensitivity stems from tooth enamel weakening, exposing more sensitive tissues beneath (these are called “dentin”). If your child complains more frequently that food is too hot or cold, this could be a sign that they need an oral health screening.
Toothache is another sign of decay. It often appears suddenly, especially while eating, and the pain can vary. Additionally, if you see holes in your teeth, or brown/black stains on the top of the tooth, this could be a sign that cavities have already formed. Note that many cavities form between teeth and cannot be seen.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
The best defense against tooth decay is a daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing for at least 2 minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing at least once a day or after every meal, and rinsing for at least 30 seconds with a mouthwash that contains fluoride.
The purpose of this daily routine is to remove tooth-damaging particles left by food and drink (especially sugary ones), which get trapped on and between teeth and become enamel-damaging plaque/tartar. Other supplemental ways to prevent tooth decay include drinking plenty of water throughout the day, refraining from frequent snacking, and eating a tooth-friendly diet low in processed and sugary foods.
How Braces Affect Tooth Decay
Preventing tooth decay is the same whether you have braces or not. The difference is that braces can make brushing and flossing more difficult, resulting in higher rates of tooth decay among those who wear them, especially children.
To brush properly, angle your toothbrush behind the braces and wire to dislodge any food particles. To floss, use the threader provided by your orthodontist to loop the floss around the wire. Each tooth must be threaded separately, so children may not be able to do it alone.
A Waterpik can help make up for difficulties in brushing and flossing, especially for children. Put a teaspoon of mouthwash in the basin to make the cleaning even more effective.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.