It’s a time I remember very well, because really, it didn’t happen too long ago. Yes, I was an adult with braces. You know, the gal who studied and worked during the day, and at night, went clubbing with her girlfriends. That was me! And when that tall, dark stranger approached, I gave him a shy, reserved smile… because anything would be better than revealing a mouth full of metal at age 21 – UGH!
(Oh, and when the orthodontist tells you that your braces will be off in 12 months, it’s a lie. Two full years of brace-face, baby! You don’t forget stuff like that.)
Okay, so clubbing sucked. And so did the removal of four teeth. And getting the braces on. And the elastics. And that damned retainer. But if I had to single out the worst experience of wearing braces, it was definitely keeping my teeth clean and healthy while trying to navigate through all the wire. Even though it’s only been 15 years since I had my braces, electric toothbrushes weren’t a thing back then, so I had to rely on good old fashioned brushing (and pretty much failed miserably). I truly wish I had taken better care of my teeth when I had braces, because when they came off, I was the proud owner of straight teeth – but they were discoloured and I had acquired two cavities. (Insert sad face.) Weeks of whitening strips and two filled cavities later, I could finally enjoy my brand new pearly whites.
But don’t make the same mistakes I did! If you, or someone you know, is currently wearing braces, I want you to have a better experience. And that begins with proper oral hygiene. Today, I’m pleased to share the following intel for brace-faces everywhere:
3M is working with Crest and Oral-B to ensure the necessary information is readily available on how to care for brace-bound teeth. According to certified orthodontic clinical assistant, Cathy Sundvall, there are six key steps that should be followed by brace wearers to ensure a good oral hygiene routine:
1. Rinse: Start by removing loose food particles.
2. Tree brush: Use an interproximal brush to check behind your archwire for any remaining food debris.
3. Water flosser: Use a water flosser to ensure you’ve removed food particles from around the brackets.
4. Floss: Remove any food that’s in between your teeth with floss.
5. Power brush: Brush using a specially-designed electric toothbrush head, which removes plaque in tiny, hard-to-reach spots, like the areas around your braces.
6. Final rinse: Now that you’re done cleaning your teeth, make sure your mouth is fresh and toothpaste-free with a quick rinse.
Not inspired? Consider this – research indicates that a clean mouth prevents various life-threatening diseases like aspiration pneumonia, gum disease and heart disease.
3M has set up a nifty little website that explains the above steps in detail, so you can avail yourself of handy oral hygiene tips and tricks. Best of all, you’ll find the appropriate suggestions for all types of braces, whether you have metal, ceramic or the brand new incognito style. (Hello! Where were incognito braces in 2001? Pfft.)
So, I have a confession to make: as soon as my braces were off, I literally tuned out the orthodontist as he cautioned me to wear my retainer. Nope, didn’t happen. Didn’t care – didn’t listen. And now 2-3 of my teeth have shifted… and I’m looking into getting braces again. And if/when they do reappear in my life, you can bet I’ll be paying very close attention to my oral hygiene regime. Let’s just say I’ve bookmarked this post.
(Psst – Are your kids about to get braces? Check out www.PaintYourSmile.com which allows them to see what they’re going to look like with braces. Super cool and a fun way to prepare them for their new smile!)
Yikes! That minds me I should take better care of my teeth, after all the suffering I went through with braces, I certainly do not want to go back to it ever again! Yay for doing everything possible to maintain a clean and healthy mouth.
Absolutely! They’re an investment, after all!
They wanted to give me braces when I was a kid, but my mom talked the dentist into pulling out 4 molars and my teeth are completely straight today!
Oh that is awesome!
Judy C (Judy Cowan)
I was lucky and never had to endure braces. Good luck if you have to do it again.
Thanks – I am NOT looking forward to it!
very good advice – dental health is so important!
Yes it is!
nothing makes a first impression like a pearly white smile. and having fashionable shoes.
Both are equally important :)
had braces for 3+ yrs in high school… horrible… and trying to keep them clean is a PAIN!
Uh huh – I remember that!
I was one of the lucky ones that never had to have braces. My daughter did back in the 90’s but she was meticulous about keeping her teeth clean. I will keep the websites for proper cleaning and braces information for if and when any of my grandchildren will need braces though ;)
Hope they won’t need them :)
I had braces so I feel your pain. I had to wear the dreaded HEAD GEAR in grade 6. HORRIBLE. Also, they were supposed to be off in 2 years. It was almost 4 years before mine came off.
Head gear!!! OMG!!
Ive never had braces so I have no idea what you, or other people with them, went through. I wish I had braces though!
Never too late!
I do take care of my teeth being a former braces and headgear-wearing teen. But I gave up on my nighttime appliance years ago :).
Another head gear wearer!! Yikes!!
I was lucky and didn’t have to go through braces, but for my daughter, its was another story. Wow!! spacers, expander, and braces. I know it wasn’t easy for her.
Nope, it’s really hard :(
I was fortunate that I didn’t have to wear braces but one of my kids did and I know she went through a lot of pain to keep them clean.
Yup, I feel her pain!
Like you, I wasn’t good at wearing my retainer and my teeth have shifted. I have been toying with the idea of getting Invisalign for years. Have you looked into that option, Lena?
I have, in fact, that’s what I would go with now…
I was lucky enough to never need braces but I remember my brother did and it was such a pain for him to keep his teeth clean!
It’s pretty gross what gets trapped by the wires!
Chandra Christine O'Connor
my girls just had the normal braces, but I was so on them all the time about keeping their teeth clean have you ever seen the pictures of teeth with braces not kept up with flossing and cleaning. ew ew ew
Ew .. exactly!!
I remember this with my kids its a big job for everyone
Yup, especially staying on top of young kids :(
I feel your pain. I had a retainer for like “forever” and it was one of those ones that split in the middle and once a week I was to turn a key and make the split wider. Nevermind the pain, I still have nightmares to this day hearing myself speak with this thing on. I was very clicky or just really garbled.
Ugh, I hated speaking with my retainer!!!
in my day we didn’t have no fancy “invisible” braces. no! we had big, chunky, stainless steels braces and we liked it!
Did you really LIKE it???
I had braces when i was 15. What a friggin’ pain in the rear end they are. They had nothing this snazzy or ‘cool’ back then, no we had the mini train tracks for our faces.
But I bet your smile is beautiful now!
Oh my braces suck. I had them when I was a teen and again at 21. Like you said 1.5 years = 2.5 because it always takes longer.
Dental health is very important … great advice :)
I never had braces, but I wish that I had. It is a great investment. An investment I know I will have to make in my son’s mouth that is way to small for his teeth.
my daughter wore braces – and she never wore her retainer after getting them off..they have not – thankfully – shifted. She would have had to pay for them herslef if they did..once was more than enough!
I wore braces WITH head gear! Thankfully the head gear only lasted for 6 months. But, you are right. They do lie about how long you will have to wear braces. They told me 3 years and it was actually 4 years!
having 4 daughters that went through braces. I fully understand the emotions and financial hardship we all went through as a family, all well worth it, and as adults they have each thanked me. Cool app will show this to my grand children as I see they will be needing braces too.
I had braces as a teen and I’m pretty sure it has scarred me for life! It was so horrible! I’m really glad that I don’t have crooked teeth but it shouldn’t be so awful.
I never had braces but my friend’s son does and i will be forward these cleaning tips to her so she can help him out,they have been having a hard time keeping the clean !
It sure was worth every minute because you sure have a beautiful smile !
Braces are worth it as I had some condition where my teeth would cause problems like health wise, so it wasn’t for cosmetic purposes to get them. Anyway these look like a new form of braces.. cool.