We know that going through orthodontic treatment can be challenging at times. With all the extra considerations, the new diet, and the uncomfortable feeling of the orthodontic appliance rubbing on your cheeks and inner lips, it’s entirely normal for patients to want to deal with braces as little as possible every day.
However, it’s crucial for every single orthodontic patient to follow their dietary restrictions and make a habit out of cleaning their braces properly. If there is a good level of patient compliance throughout the entire treatment, your orthodontist will have an easier time moving your teeth to their corresponding place, giving you a healthy, straight, and beautiful smile.
If you are not careful with your orthodontic appliance and they constantly suffer damage or if you have to interrupt your treatment due to other dental conditions, not only will your treatment time extend, but the results may not be exactly what your orthodontist first set out to achieve.
Keep reading to know the best ways to keep your treatment on track and how to maintain great oral and gum health.
The Importance of Hygiene During Orthodontic Treatment
As mentioned, it is beyond important to maintain proper oral health through good oral hygiene. Lack of a proper cleaning regimen will lead to multiple dental issues that can alter your treatment results, stop the treatment completely, or put a pause on your appliance use.
There are two important factors that hinder your ability to brush and use dental floss properly if you are an orthodontic patient. First, there is the aspect of crooked teeth. If you are in need of orthodontic treatment, chances are at least some of your teeth don’t align with each other as they should. When this happens, it prevents you from getting your brush and floss to every single crevice between your teeth, allowing bacteria and plaque to accumulate.
The same basic idea applies to patients with appliances on them. Not only do they have the added difficulty because of their angled teeth, but they also have metal pieces getting in the way of their normal brushing. Making them even more prone to dental issues if they don’t take care of their oral hygiene as they should.
To avoid developing new dental issues during your braces treatment, you’ll have to use some new tools aside from traditional dental floss and a regular toothbrush. Some of your options are an electric toothbrush, floss threader, floss pick, interdental cleaners, and, the one we will talk about in detail, a water flosser.
What Is a Water Flosser?
Also known as an oral irrigator, a water flosser is a sometimes portable device that shoots a stream of water wherever you aim it inside your mouth with the objective of cleaning it by removing all the food particles and bacteria accumulated. Just as regular string floss, its main use is to wash away plaque or any other foreign objects in both the interdental space and the space between your teeth and gums.
While some water flossers are portable and thus are confined to a handheld device, most countertop flossers have two main pieces to them, the handle that has the controls on it and shoots water and the reservoir tank that you will have to fill to every so often.
The thinner variations of water flossers that don’t require a water tank or power from the wall tend to be a little weaker when it comes to water pressure. Additionally, shower flossers and faucet flossers are both harder to use due to the attached cord.
The specific type of flosser for you will depend on your lifestyle and needs. If you travel a lot, consider a portable device without a separate water tank. If you like more strength on the water stream, consider getting a countertop flosser. If you think you won’t have problems with maneuverability, consider using a faucet or a shower flosser.
How to Use a Water Flosser?
Using a water flosser is pretty simple and has great results when paired with daily brushing and flossing.
The first step of water flossing with a countertop water flosser is to fill the water reservoir with lukewarm water. Some Portland orthodontists recommend using a mix of mouthwash and water to remove odors and freshen your breath while cleaning. If you decide to use mouthwash, make sure to have at most a one-to-one ratio of water and mouthwash to avoid damaging the device.
Your second step is picking the correct water flosser tip for your specific case. While most people will only use standard tips, many will have to use a specific water flosser tip due to a dental condition that they suffer from. As an example, Portland orthodontists will many times recommend using Pik Pocket tips to help clean periodontal pockets that form as a result of severe gum disease.
Once you have your water ready and your water pick tip selected, you are ready to go. Just place the tip inside your mouth and begin cleaning your entire mouth from the back teeth forward. Make sure to run along your gum line and the interdental space between every pair of teeth. You might want to lean over the sink to avoid spilling water all over.
After you finish cleaning every crevice, empty the extra water from the reservoir., which will prevent bacteria from developing in the stale water.
How to Clean a Water Flosser?
Cleaning a water flosser is also relatively simple. First, let some pure water run through your device to wash away any other elements that could have stayed behind if you initially used a mouthwash and water mix.
Then, regardless if it is a cordless water flosser or not, remove the water tank, if there is one, and proceed to clean it with a mix of soap and warm water. If you own one, you may put it in the dishwasher, but beware that Waterpik recommends air drying for your reservoir.
To clean the insides of your flosser, you should use a mixture of one tablespoon of white vinegar with 16 ounces of water. Add the solution to your reservoir and let it go through the system until it’s empty. Then, repeat the process with pure water as a way to rinse the product.
For the flosser tip, you’ll want to remove them from the device and let them soak in a water and vinegar mixture for 5 minutes. Your mix should be two parts water and one part vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. After letting them soak, rinse them with water and let them dry. Remember that these tips are not permanent and that you should change them at most every six months.
You should also clean the outside of the device with a clean cloth and some cleanser. Depending on your model, you may be able to soak the handle in water.
Can a Water Flosser Replace Floss?
No, a water flosser cannot replace floss. While water flossing is very effective in reducing periodontal disease and removing plaque, many dental professionals still think that traditional flossing is the better way of eliminating bacteria and plaque from those hard-to-reach places.
When considering using water flossers, you should know that the idea is to use it with traditional floss rather than replace it. Water flossers are especially beneficial for those who have dexterity problems and orthodontic patients who have metal obstacles in their way.
Get Your Clean and Beautiful Smile
Whichever your decision may be regarding a water flosser for interdental cleaning, make sure to talk with your Orthodontist in Portland first. Here at Hillsdale Orthodontics, we are ready to help you with any questions you may have regarding your oral health.