When you have orthodontics, flossing regularly is more important than ever. As Dr. Chad Carver, DMD, at Stellar Family Orthodontics in Mukilteo and Mill Creek, Washington, knows, braces and clear aligners can trap food debris in between your teeth. Food that hides in the crevices between your teeth poses a serious risk to your oral health.
Let’s talk a bit about why forgetting to floss with braces and clear aligners is a threat to your oral health and what you can do to make sure flossing becomes part of your routine.
Why is flossing important?
How many times has your dentist reminded you to floss? Too many times to count, right? You’re not alone there. Flossing has become an afterthought for many children, teens, and adults alike. It’s easy to assume you’re maintaining your oral health when you brush your teeth regularly. Flossing just seems like icing on the cake.
Unfortunately, brushing your teeth is only half the battle. While your toothbrush removes plaque — a sticky film of bacteria — from the surface of your teeth, it can’t reach the spaces between them. Only floss can reach those small crevices.
What happens if I don’t floss?
When plaque is trapped between your teeth, it can lead to serious oral health problems, such as:
Cavities are caused by tooth decay. When you have plaque sitting between your teeth for too long, it releases toxins that eat away at your hard, protective tooth enamel. Over time, it creates tiny holes in your teeth. These small holes eventually grow and spread to the point that much of your natural tooth structure may be unsalvageable.
Without treatment, cavities can even lead to more concerning dental issues, including:
- Chipped teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums. Like cavities, gum disease is caused by built-up plaque. This sticky bacteria can cause your gum tissue and tooth-supporting structures to deteriorate.
Without treatment, gum disease leaves you vulnerable to:
- Gum recession
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Tooth loss
- Pain when chewing
When combined with regular brushing, flossing removes food debris and other bacteria before it has a chance to form plaque. Simply flossing your teeth after meals can significantly improve your oral health.
Do I have to floss with braces or clear aligners?
Braces are directly fixed to your teeth with small brackets and wires. They physically block you from reaching parts of your teeth when you brush and floss. That’s why it’s especially important to floss with braces. If you forget, food debris can become very easily trapped between your teeth, increasing your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth discoloration, and more.
Clear aligners, like Invisalign®, are removable. You can, and should, remove them to eat, drink, brush, and floss. Unlike braces, clear aligners allow you to maintain your regular brushing and flossing routine. Unfortunately, if you forget to floss, food debris and bacteria can become trapped between your teeth and aligners.
How can I make flossing with braces or clear aligners easier?
There are many ways to make flossing easier when you have braces or clear aligners. Finding the type of floss that works best for you is the first step.
If you have braces, we recommend the Platypus Flosser®. This orthodontic flossing device is made with a proprietary structure that requires no threading, making it easier to floss with braces.
Flossing with clear aligners is not as time-consuming. Simply choose the best type of floss for your lifestyle. Whether you enjoy a minty flavor, want to shop organic, or have sensitive teeth, there’s a type of floss for you.
Other tips for flossing with braces and clear aligners include:
- Store floss in convenient places
- Keep floss in your purse/backpack/car/etc.
- Set a reminder on your phone
- Try a floss pick
- Use a waterpik
- Make it a family affair
For more tips on flossing with braces and clear aligners, call Stellar Family Orthodontics or schedule an appointment online today!