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  • Guest blogger Whitney Edge RDH BS

Oral Health and Orthodontic Treatment

Prevention plays a vital role in the oral health of the patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. As an RDH, I recommend having the following discussions with your patients to help reduce the chances of caries, white spots or other oral health concerns with your patient undergoes orthodontic treatment.

  • Patients in ortho should brush thoroughly after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the teeth and brackets. Power toothbrushes are a great addition to the home care routine of an ortho patient.

  • Cleaning in between the teeth daily is crucial while in ortho. There are several devices on the market today that make cleaning interproximal areas convenient and easy. Waterpik, Platypus flossers, and flossfish are just a few that make life easier while in ortho.

  • Frequent visits with a dental hygienist are an important part of treatment. Patients may be on a hygiene recall every 3-6 months, depending on risk factors. Seeing a dental hygienist regularly can help identify problems with the patient’s home care and risk factors that they may encounter along the way. Healthy gums and good home care help the ortho appliances do their job in a timely manner. Calculus buildup in between teeth can halt the movement of the teeth.

  • Fluoride treatments, ideally fluoride varnish, are recommended 2-4 times a year, depending on what risk factors are identified. ADA considers fluoride varnish to be a safe and efficacious part of a caries prevention program that includes diagnosis, risk assessment and regular dental care.

  • Demineralization is commonly seen in patients in ortho. Varnish has a very important role in the remineralization process, helping teeth to fight decay and strengthen and/or remineralize enamel.

  • Avoiding snacking while in orthodontic treatment of any kind, traditional ortho or aligner trays, is very important. When a patient eats or drinks the pH in the mouth drops to an acidic level, putting the teeth at risk for decay. It takes at least 30 minutes for the mouth to return to a neutral pH.

  • Avoiding hard and sticky snacks is recommended during ortho because they can do damage to the tooth as well as the braces. Popcorn, hard candy, taffy, and ice are common causes of broken brackets.

  • After ortho is complete, a visit to the hygienist is important to remove any excess bonding material and plaque.

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