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Can You Get Your Teeth Cleaned While Wearing Braces?

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A young girls having her teeth cleaned while wearing braces.

When you have braces or aligners, your teeth are constantly on the move. So, what does that mean for your regular cleaning schedule? Should you still have your teeth cleaned by your dentist?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Teeth cleaning is critical to your oral health at any time in your life, and especially if you are in the process of straightening your teeth.

When you have braces or aligners, the way you care for your teeth changes.

The Many Benefits of Teeth Cleanings

It feels amazing when you have freshly cleaned teeth—but there are so many benefits beyond how great they feel!

Routine teeth cleaning is part of your preventative healthcare. Not only will your teeth sparkle and feel fresh, but regular cleanings are critical for preventing tooth decay and gum disease. This is especially true when you have braces or aligners.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Cavities can damage your tooth enamel and cause a hole to develop in your tooth that can be painful, create halitosis, lead to tooth loss or breakage, and look unsightly. 

When you experience tooth decay, you should visit your dentist for an assessment so you can restore the function and look of your tooth.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a general term for issues that cause inflammation in the gums, bones, and tissue around your teeth.

Gingivitis and periodontitis can both cause:

  • Pain
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding
  • Redness
  • Swelling

What Changes When You Have Braces?

When you wear orthodontics like braces or aligners, your mouth is in a state of transition from crooked teeth to neat, straight teeth. 

Before you started the process of straightening your teeth, it is possible that they overlapped or touched in places they should not have, leaving some areas inaccessible by your toothbrush and floss.

As your teeth start to shift, you can anticipate changes in your oral health habits and routine. Your regular tooth brushing and flossing angles may not remove all debris from your teeth the same way they once did. Professional dental cleanings can help you achieve a clean, healthy smile while you build up new oral health habits.

The Added Maintenance of Braces

During the transitional phase of having braces or aligners, you will have attachments or buttons on your teeth (the hardware your braces or aligners mount to). These pieces are notorious for trapping debris, causing stains, and attracting plaque and tartar.

The issue with properly cleaning your own teeth is two-fold:

  • Accessing all surfaces of your teeth is more difficult due to the hardware
  • There are extra nooks where food and debris can get trapped

Braces with brackets and wires can be the most difficult to clean, and it is common to experience inflammed gums that bleed easily and cause bad breath.

Life After Braces

After you have achieved straighter teeth with the use of orthodontics like braces or aligners, you may need to continue wearing a retainer to maintain your newly straightened smile. How long and how often you have to wear the retainer will be recommended by your dentist.

Wearing a retainer comes with an added set of cleaning responsibilities. Your retainer will need to be removed and cleaned regularly to ensure it is free from bacteria and debris.

If you wear a bonded (fixed) retainer, that means it will be attached to your mouth, so you will need to be extra diligent in brushing and flossing to keep it clean.

A close up of a person brushing their teeth with braces to maintain good oral health.

Introducing Your New Cleaning Routine

Braces are an excellent way to help improve your oral health—by straightening your teeth you can not only improve your smile, you can improve the function of your teeth.

Straighter teeth generally trap less debris and are easier to clean, so while you are making the transition, it is important to ramp up your typical oral health habits.

That means you should:

  • Brush at least twice a day (this is recommended even for those without braces), and use a floss threader, superfloss, or a Waterpik to clean more effectively in between your teeth. Ensuring nothing is left behind is the best way to keep your teeth clean!
  • Increase professional dental cleanings to around every 3 months to make sure your teeth are as clean as can be while you have hardware attached to them.

Your routine dental cleanings may take longer than your visits before you had braces or aligners, because your hygienist has more surfaces and tricky angles to clean. So, be prepared to stay a little longer—you can bring an audiobook or music to entertain yourself while you are relaxing and having your teeth cleaned.

The Wonderful World of Straight Teeth

Trust us, your journey to straighter teeth will all be worth it in the end! We want to see your smile shine while you enjoy a straighter bite, more comfortable teeth, and increased functionality in your teeth.

The bonus is, your teeth can be easier to clean once they are straightened, which can help increase the longevity of your oral health!

At Cooper Dental, your oral health is our top priority. Whether you are considering braces or aligners, or you already have them, our team is happy to help you take care of your teeth. Our years of experience in dental care, oral hygiene, and our friendly, personalized service all come together to help you achieve your best smile possible.

Here at Cooper Dental, we can help you achieve straighter teeth with clear braces in as little as 6 months.

Talk to us today about how we can help you achieve your smile goals and help you maintain clean teeth!

Written by Dr. Deborah Cooper

Dr. Deborah Cooper completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1992 from the University of Alberta. With over 29 years of experience in general dentistry, her passion for her profession is evident in how she strives for excellence. She attends dental courses to stay up-to-date on the most current developments in dentistry. Dr. Cooper has a special interest in conservative aesthetic dentistry and creating natural-looking smiles with healthy bites. For Dr. Cooper, individual patient care has always been her top priority. Many of her patients have been with her for well over 20 years. She also values her team and has many long-standing team members.
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