What are fixed braces?
As the name suggests, fixed braces cannot be removed for the duration of the treatment. The small brackets are attached to each of your teeth and usually fixed to the cheek side of the molar band (by buccal tubes). However, it is also possible to fit braces to the inside of your teeth – rather than the front surface of the teeth – using lingual brackets. That said, lingual braces are less common than regular braces.
The purpose of fixed braces is to gradually move your teeth or jaw to the correct position. Fixed braces can, however, also be used to expand a narrow palate.
What do fixed braces look like?
You have most probably seen the small brackets that are attached to each tooth many times. They are the main elements of fixed braces and are most visible when you talk and smile. These brackets are usually either made of metal, tooth-coloured ceramic or plastic. They are normally stuck onto the front surface of the tooth with a special glue by an orthodontist. But that is not all: Steel rings – bands – are additionally fixed with cement to the teeth.
Good to know:
Many patients complain about their new look, or the brackets on their teeth annoy them. There is no such thing as completely clear fixed braces; but if you want to conceal your fixed braces, tooth-coloured ceramic ones are probably the best choice. The ceramic brackets can additionally be combined with white-coated archwires. There is yet another advantage to be gained from ceramic: It is more difficult for bacteria to "cling" to the smooth surface. Further, ceramic is very friendly to people who suffer from various types of allergies.
How do fixed braces work?
To ensure constant pressure on teeth, archwires are attached to the brackets and bands. Orthodontists will usually use steel or nickel-titanium wires. The wires pull and push the teeth into the correct alignment and proper position. Usually, you will need two appointments with an orthodontist to get fixed braces fitted.
Fixed or removable braces: Which braces are the right choice?
Brackets or removable braces? Given a choice, most patients would probably always go for the second option. Its main advantage: Removable braces are a more discreet alternative to fixed brackets on the teeth. Moreover, it is much easier to care for your teeth with removable braces. Unfortunately, the choice of the right braces does not depend on these advantages.
Correct evaluation of the diagnostic documents always remains the determining factor. To do so, the orthodontist examines dental impressions, X-rays and findings, while also taking into account the patient's oral hygiene, dependability and compliance.
The decision between fixed or removable braces is therefore a very individual one. There is no set of definitive and universally valid rules.
From what age and for how long should you have fixed braces?
Usually, orthodontic treatment is not recommended before the age of ten. Fixed braces are normally only attached to permanent teeth. Even more decisive than age, however, is tooth development and positioning.
How long you should have fixed braces depends on various factors – including the extent of misalignment and initial positioning of your teeth. Roughly speaking, however, treatment usually takes at least 18 months to two years to complete.
How do you clean braces?
One of the biggest challenges associated with fixed braces is cleaning. Food debris can easily become lodged between the brackets and wires, causing wearers to avoid smiling or talking after meals.
As such, oral hygiene is the number one priority with fixed braces
Beyond the aesthetic benefits, there are numerous other reasons why proper oral hygiene is crucial when wearing fixed braces. We have summarised them below:
Protecting against dental decay
There is an increased chance of gum disease and dental decay when wearing fixed braces. The many elements attached to the teeth make it difficult for saliva to rinse teeth as effectively as it should. The likelihood of having more food debris in your mouth is greater when wearing braces. If you fail to clean your teeth and braces regularly, bacteria can spread rapidly and seriously damage your teeth and oral health. The areas around the glued-on brackets are at particular risk.
Preventing gum disease (gingivitis)
Patients are more at risk of developing gum disease during the first few days after fitting. The primary reasons for this are the initially unaccustomed pressure on the teeth and the increased salivation that accompanies it. Furthermore, attachment of the wires and brackets can cause added strain and vulnerability to the oral mucous membranes. The same applies here: Take great care when it comes to cleaning your oral cavity and teeth.
The initial and common signs of gum disease include red and swollen gums. It is normal for your gums to bleed a little following cleaning with an interdental brush or standard toothbrush should you have gum disease.
Taking dental care with fixed braces seriously and cleaning your teeth and braces thoroughly on a regular basis helps to reduce the risk of decay and gum disease. This removes the plaque that is associated with the inflammatory burden.
Preventing white and brown spots from teeth
When the big day arrives and the orthodontist finally removes the fixed braces, many patients experience somewhat of a shock: White or brown spots have formed on their teeth underneath the brackets. This can occur if the exposed areas around the brackets have not been cleaned adequately over an extended period of time. To prevent this from happening, you should pay particular attention to good oral and dental hygiene from day one (more on this topic below).
Instructions: Cleaning and caring for fixed braces correctly
Fortunately, brushing teeth is an important part of most people's daily hygiene routine. However, if you wear fixed braces, you should perhaps take a little more time for oral care – "normal" brushing is simply not enough to prevent unsightly stains, inflammation or dental decay.
You might ask yourself: How do you clean braces? Do not worry, dental care with fixed braces is not rocket science. We explain here exactly how to achieve the best results. And before you know it, you will be performing the steps without thinking twice.
Step 1: Rinsing your mouth
Before brushing your teeth and braces, you should rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove any coarse food debris. This can simply be done with water.
Step 2: Brushing teeth individually – Which toothbrush is best for fixed braces?
Gently clean each tooth at a time. This involves using a circular motion and a standard toothbrush. Make sure the bristles of your toothbrush are pointing at a 45 degree angle between the wire and tooth. This ensures that you also reach the surface of the teeth underneath the wire.
For example, the CS 5460 Ortho toothbrush from Curaprox is particularly suitable for brushing teeth with fixed braces. Its bristles are specially cut to ensure they are slightly shorter in the centre. This allows them to fully encircle the brackets and keep them nice and clean.
Which electric toothbrush is suitable for fixed braces?
Alternatively, you can also use an electric toothbrush to clean your teeth properly with braces. Curaprox Hydrosonic Pro is ideal for this. Thanks to its small, teardrop shaped brush head, you are able to brush each tooth individually. You can also effortlessly reach the gaps between teeth and braces and gently clean the gumline. Food particles stuck in your wires and brackets are removed in a flash, too.
Step 3: Using a toothbrush for chewing and inner surfaces
Step 4: Cleaning the wires, bands and brackets of your braces
The many components of the fixed braces in your mouth are admirable food catchers, you definitely need to pay special attention to their care now. It is best to clean the many gaps with an interdental brush. They are small and flexible enough to fit into the tiniest of spaces; the perfect addition to traditional brushing.
And we have another tip for you: Give yourself enough time and take care to look after your braces properly. This helps prevent any damage to the brackets and wires – and more importantly: You avoid harming your teeth and gums.
Step 5: Rinsing your mouth again
After you have brushed your teeth and braces and removed any food debris and plaque, rinse your mouth again with plenty of water. This should help get rid of any remaining bacteria – and leave your breath feeling nice and fresh.
Step 6: Applying fluoride gel once or twice a week
You are particularly exemplary if you give your teeth an extra boost by applying fluoride gel to them. Apply the gel once or twice a week to your teeth and then spit it out. But do not rinse your mouth out with water afterwards. Always check the instructions or ask your health care professional prior to initial use.
Bonus step: Water flosser
A water flosser is a great supplementary hygiene treatment for people with fixed braces. However, it should never replace proper cleaning with a toothbrush and interdental brush.
Good to know:
How often should teeth with braces be cleaned? This is one of the most important questions that patients ask their dentist or orthodontist. It is a good idea to brush your teeth and braces after every proper meal – so at least three times a day.
Which toothpaste is best for fixed braces?
Oral hygiene with fixed braces is not just about the right brushing technique. It is also about choosing the right toothpaste. It is advantageous, for example, to use a toothpaste that contains enzymes – like the Curaprox toothpaste Enzycal.
At a physiological level, it contains three enzymes that are helpful in the fight against harmful bacteria. The enzymes are all found in our saliva – with Enzycal toothpaste you additionally minimise the growth of harmful bacteria and help remineralise the enamel.
If you are looking for the ideal toothpaste to clean your teeth and braces, we have another tip for you: Stay away from whitening toothpastes. This is an important tip if you want your teeth to have a matching colour. Because do not forget: A large area of each tooth is covered by a bracket. If you clean the area of your tooth not covered by the bracket with a whitening toothpaste, you will notice a distinct contrast when your braces eventually come off.
Professional dental cleaning with fixed braces: Yes or no?
Professional dental cleaning can be a great addition to your daily brushing routine if you have fixed braces. This is primarily due to the fact that brushing teeth with brackets and wires poses an entirely new set of challenges. There are so many difficult-to-reach gaps and corners. Professional dental cleaning will focus on cleansing these spots and removing any tartar build-up.
Airflow dental treatment is likely to be a crucial component of the professional dental cleaning process for patients with brackets on their teeth. The air-powered jet of water can get into all those hard-to-reach places, thereby cleaning your teeth with braces and effectively removing plaque.
It is probably best to discuss with your orthodontist how often you should have your teeth cleaned professionally while wearing fixed braces. Many recommend increasing the frequency slightly and treating yourself to quality dental cleaning treatment every three or six months. However, no matter how often you have your teeth cleaned professionally, it is essential to stick to your daily oral hygiene routine.
By the way: It is recommended to have your teeth cleaned professionally one or two days before fitting braces. You can then be sure that the brackets are bonded to clean teeth – thus reducing the risk of dental decay.
Good to know:
Many patients ask themselves: Can discolouration on the fixed braces be removed? Here is some good news. The metallic and ceramic components of fixed braces cannot change colour. But take note: This does not apply to rubber rings and plastic components, which can also be part of fixed braces. Always follow a good oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and braces clean.
When travelling: Optimal cleaning of your braces – also on the go
Holidays are a welcome break from your usual routine. But this should never apply to oral hygiene – especially if you have fixed braces. It is definitely not a time to let up on your brushing and cleaning routine.
To ensure everything goes smoothly, it is a good idea to think about and prepare your oral hygiene routine before leaving home. Consider how much toothpaste you will require, and make sure you have enough. By doing so, you will avoid having to search for a suitable toothpaste in foreign or unfamiliar surroundings.
Further, you should not have to go out and buy the next best toothbrush while on your holidays. Especially when wearing fixed braces, it is important that you have a toothbrush that meets your specific needs. If you normally use an electric toothbrush to brush your teeth and braces, take it with you. Ideal for this purpose is the Curaprox Hydrosonic Pro travel set. This allows you to take your electric toothbrush with you on your travels – and includes two spare brush heads.
Do you prefer using a standard toothbrush? If so, make sure to travel with at least two brushes of your favourite brand. With the Curaprox Ortho Kit, designed especially for wearers of braces, you will be well prepared for your holiday.
Good to know:
When travelling, oral hygiene is sometimes put on the back burner – a predicament that most of us have likely encountered! In the absence of a nearby sink or tap, staying hydrated can temporarily alleviate the situation. Drinking enough fluids naturally helps to rinse some of the food particles from your mouth. Remember, you are also allowed to chew gum with fixed braces to stimulate the flow of saliva – but please choose a sugarless one!
Digression: Cleaning removable braces
Wearers of removable braces have an advantage: They can simply take their braces out and give them a good clean. That is much easier than trying to clean every nook and cranny in your mouth. Nevertheless, caring for removable braces should not be taken lightly, either.
Just like your teeth, braces need to be cleaned twice a day. It is best to use a separate toothbrush for the braces; one that is only used for this purpose.
Carefully hold your braces under running water and use a small amount of toothpaste to clean them thoroughly. Do not use toothpastes containing active micro-cleansing crystals. These toothpastes can help to polish and whiten your teeth, but they can also harm your braces. Why do the braces have to be cleaned with toothpaste? Because tartar can form not only on teeth but also on braces or dentures.
Problem: Bad smelling braces
Do your braces smell bad? Your braces might start to smell if you have not been caring for them properly. Treat your braces to a regular cleansing bath to prevent them from smelling. The Curaprox series BDC Biological Denture Care is an ideal cleansing product. The combination of citric acid and sea salt within these solutions gently cleanses your braces. The added eucalyptus oil, with its healing properties, brings maximum freshness to your braces or dentures.
A popular home remedy to keep your braces from smelling is to soak them in a mixture of white vinegar and water. Soaking your braces in this type of bath once a week should leave them smelling nice and fresh. When used to clean braces, a 50/50 ratio of vinegar to water is best. And remember to make sure your braces are fully submerged in the cleaning solution. Leave them to soak in the mixture for at least 30 minutes.
Ultrasound can also be used to clean your removable braces. Cleaning devices with ultrasound technology gently remove plaque from the braces.
Many wearers of removable braces ask themselves: Do braces rust? Yes, that can happen – for example, if you use cleaning tablets daily and do not dry your braces properly afterwards. Therefore, ask your dentist for advice on how often you should soak your braces.
Good to know:
Besides fixed and removable braces, there are also "invisible braces" – which have started popping up on adverts all over the place. These braces are more commonly referred to as aligners: Retainer splints made of transparent plastic that fit over the teeth like normal removable braces. However, they are usually only suitable for straightening minor irregularities. Today, there are multiple providers of invisible braces on the market. We recommend consulting your orthodontist or dentist before making a final decision.
The first few days with fixed braces: How to take care of them
Humans are creatures of habit – and this is also true when it comes to fixed braces. Over time you will hardly notice they are there. But the first few days are a bit different: The brackets of the braces might cause some slight pain and discomfort. There may also be some sensitivity or pain in your teeth when you bite down. Further, the inside of your cheeks, your tongue or lips may be slightly red or sore. They are irritated by the foreign material in your mouth.
But do not worry, any soreness should usually dissipate within a few days. If biting and chewing with fixed braces is still too uncomfortable, abstain from solid foods for a period and instead opt for soups and yoghurt.
Even though the initial settling-in period might be a little challenging, it is essential not to let your oral hygiene routine slip. As teeth can be sensitive in the first few days, we have a tip to make your life a little easier. Avoid eating food products that demand particularly intensive brushing during this period. These include:
- Sticky foodstuffs like liquorice, chewy sweets and toffees
- Sweets in general
- Hard food products that become stuck between your teeth – for example nuts, popcorn or hard bread crusts
It is also wise to gradually ease into your new brushing routine. If you have never used interdental brushes before, they are now an indispensable tool. Take some time to familiarise yourself with these brushes and clean the spaces between your teeth carefully. This helps to prevent the freshly bonded brackets and wires coming loose, especially in the first few days. If any sharp edges or pointy bits hurt the inside of your mouth, use orthodontic wax to stop any rubbing.
Orthodontic wax to prevent small cuts: How to use orthodontic wax
Not only during those first few days, but also throughout the entire treatment, there is a real possibility of the braces irritating your oral mucous membranes – especially given the numerous foreign objects that may rub against the insides of your cheeks or become detached. Many wearers of braces swear by orthodontic wax as a preventive measure against oral lesions.
Orthodontic wax is a transparent, odourless and tasteless wax that is available in strips and can be simply pushed over the bothersome wire or bracket. Once in place, the orthodontic wax usually sticks on really well, forming a barrier between the braces and your oral mucous membranes.
We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about orthodontic wax below:
Have you accidentally swallowed some orthodontic wax?
Don’t worry, it’s not a problem. The wax will pass through your digestive system and come out in your stool.
The wax is not sticking to your fixed braces?
Perhaps you are not using it correctly. Make sure your brackets and wires are as dry as possible when pushing on the wax. Roll it between your fingers for at least five seconds. The heat softens the wax and makes it easier to apply.
Good to know:
A clever first aid tip and an alternative to orthodontic wax: Chewing gum! Yes, that’s right: If your braces start to hurt and you do not have any wax with you, save the day by simply taking a piece of sugarless chewing gum and pushing it over the troublesome bracket or wire. This also helps to create a buffer between the braces and your oral mucous membranes.
Where can you buy wax for braces?
Orthodontic wax is generally available in all good pharmacies and online shops. Curaprox offers Ortho Wax in a handy case. Some orthodontists will also give you a pack of wax for use during the first few days after fitting.
What can you eat during the first few days with fixed braces?
Do you need some creative ideas on what foods are your best bet for the first few days with fixed braces? Here you go:
- Rice pudding
- Semolina pudding
- Mashed potatoes
- Soft pasta
- Toast without the crust
- Scrambled or fried eggs
- Soft cheese
- Boneless fish
- Soft cooked vegetables
- Soft cooked meat or tofu
Fixed braces and nutrition: The most important tips
Unfortunately, braces make the simplest of pleasures – like biting into a juicy apple – somewhat of a problem for their wearers. The biggest problem: There is a risk of your braces bending or the brackets coming off completely if you eat foods that are too hard. Should that happen, get in touch with your orthodontist without delay.
Discover which foods you can still enjoy with braces right here:
- Avoid – as described above – sticky foods that are likely to get trapped in the elements of your fixed braces.
- If you want to eat something a bit harder like an apple or a slice of bread, it is best to cut them into smaller pieces and to place them in your mouth whole.
- Do not be confused by what you hear and read: Chewing gum is allowed – although different people can have different opinions on its use. Chewing gum does not usually get stuck in braces.
- Avoid very sugary foods and snacks as much as you can. There is an increased risk of dental decay while on your orthodontic journey. The less sugar you eat, the lower your risk of damaging your teeth. And if you do not want to deny yourself these pleasures entirely: Eat something sweet straight after a main meal. That is better than eating sweet stuff frequently throughout the day.
- Do not be afraid of smiling: To avoid worrying about having food unwittingly stuck in your braces, it is a good idea to keep a small portable mirror with you to check your teeth for any food after eating. This will help boost your confidence and allow you to enjoy your day carefree. Needless to say, you can also take along your dental hygiene travel kit and brush your teeth and braces every now and then when out and about. The Ortho Pocket Set from Curaprox is the perfect companion for wearers of braces. The practical storage box contains orthodontic wax and three interdental brushes.
White spots – how to prevent them, how to treat them
Unfortunately, not everyone is full of joy when their braces finally come off. Many wearers of braces often observe white or brown spots on their teeth where the brackets were positioned. This is, of course, quite a shock for patients after completion of the treatment for nice and straight teeth.
These white spots are caused by demineralisation of the tooth enamel and thus a precursor to dental decay. They can be caused by poor dental hygiene, especially if you fail to clean the area around the brackets of the braces properly. The white appearance of the spots is attributable to damage to the enamel caused by bacterial acids that were not neutralised through adequate brushing. This altered structure reflects the light differently, resulting in the visible white colour.
If white spots are detected early enough, there is a good chance of still being able to remove them. One option, for example, is Airflow dental treatment, which uses water and fine powder particles to remove plaque from the affected area.
Another possibility to get rid of the white or brown spots is caries infiltration treatment. In this case, the dentist applies gel to the white spot to counteract the initial indications of enamel lesions. The spot is subsequently filled with an infiltrate – usually a liquid plastic.
However, if the dental decay has spread and is in an advanced stage, the dentist may have to resort to using a drill. To ensure you can look forward to and fully enjoy your straight teeth after wearing fixed braces, prevent white spots from developing in the first place. And this can only be achieved by brushing and cleaning your teeth and braces thoroughly and properly.
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