If you or your child has braces, you are likely making multiple trips to the orthodontist during your treatment. While these visits are important for your smile correction goals, your orthodontist should never be considered a substitute for your dentist. Your orthodontist is focused on correcting your bite or alignment with the careful adjustments of appliances or braces. When it comes to diagnosing and treating the health of your teeth and gums, your dentist is the one to see.
Skipping your routine dental checkups is not recommended for any patient, but especially those that are in braces. Your time in braces puts you at an even greater risk for certain dental problems. This is primarily due to the fact that braces make your teeth and gums more difficult to clean. Orthodontic patients must be diligent when it comes to oral hygiene, which sometimes requires additional help from a dentist.
Brushing and flossing with orthodontics can be challenging. Only a dentist can properly diagnose and treat these common dental concerns of patients in braces:
- Plaque and Tartar – Braces or other appliances placed on your teeth allow many extra spaces where food debris and bacteria can accumulate. This opens the door for plaque and tartar to form around your brackets and bands. Only a professional dental cleaning can remove hardened plaque or tartar so that it doesn't compromise your smile health.
- Swollen Gums – It is not uncommon to see a patient with metal braces and red, puffy gums. This is a clear indication that the patient needs to be brushing and flossing better. Bacteria and plaque along the gum line can cause the first stage of gum disease. See your dentist for gum treatment recommendations so that your gum problems do not worsen.
- Decalcification – This presents itself as white spots on your teeth. Many patients notice this when they get their braces off. Decalcification is common yet very preventable if you see your dentist regularly and keep up with your brushing and flossing habits. White spots develop when the teeth lose calcium due to plaque accumulation on the enamel.
- Cavities – Did you know that having cavities while you are in braces can actually lengthen your orthodontic treatment time? This may be reason enough for patients to brush better and brush longer. A cavity can require a band or bracket to be removed in order for your dentist to fill it, which means more appointments to both your orthodontist and dentist.
Braces involve sacrifice, including your time, money and maybe some discomfort. In your quest to attain a straighter smile, don't neglect to tend to the health of your teeth and gums. This is the best way to ensure that when your braces finally come off, your smile will be as bright and confident as it should be.
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