Patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment (braces) can be at greater risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease because the bands and brackets often used to straighten teeth accumulate greater deposits of plaque and calculus (tartar) on and around the teeth than would normally be the case. Because orthodontic treatment usually lasts from one and one half to two years, this risk becomes very significant. As many as 85% of these attached teeth develop decalcifications (called white spot lesions) that either need to be filled after your orthodontic treatment has been completed or take up to two years thereafter to resolve spontaneously. The incidence of gingivitis (gum inflammation, a type of periodontal disease) can also rise markedly during orthodontics. There are steps that can be taken to reduce this risk and prevent problems from arising.
The first and most important step is conscientious home care. Floss threading, which is necessary because normal flossing is impossible with orthodontic wires in place, must be performed nightly. Our hygienist can help you with this if you are having a problem with using a floss threader. Use of a fluoride rinse is also recommended. Fluoride rinses sink into the surfaces of your teeth making them harder and more resistant to decay. If Dr. McArdle believes it is necessary, he will also prescribe certain high fluoride toothpastes and/or antimicrobial rinses to help you prevent any increases in your rates of decay and gingivitis while your orthodontics are accomplished.
Floss threading is critical to your oral hygiene while in braces.
There are also extra steps that can be taken here at our office to help you with this situation. We advise all patients in orthodontic treatment, adolescents as well as adults, to have fluoride treatments performed after every cleaning. Depending on the patient, it may be advisable to have your cleanings done every four months instead of every six.
These extra preventive steps are well worth the effort and will help lead your orthodontic treatment to a positive outcome. If you have any questions about prevention during orthodontic treatment, please ask us.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AS TO HOW ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT CAN AFFECT
YOUR ORAL HEALTH IN GENERAL, PLEASE ASK DR. MCARDLE!