Good oral hygiene is imperative to taking care of our mouth and teeth. Because the mouth is the gateway for nutrients to get to our body, keeping it clean and healthy is crucial to maintaining health and wellness.
If you are wearing braces to align your teeth, specific guidelines need to be followed to result in your most beautiful smile! One important consideration is what ingredients your toothpaste should – or should not – contain. Let’s talk about how to choose the right toothpaste and the best practices you can implement to get the beautiful smile you are looking forward to seeing.
How Do We Choose the Right Toothpaste?
When you stand in the aisle of ever-changing name brands of toothpaste, what should you look for if you or someone in your household has braces? Our team will recommend what to look for, depending on your dental needs. Having the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the box or tube is a good start. This indication means that the product has been evaluated for safety and effectiveness. The ADA Seal means that what it says on the tube and in advertisements is supported by scientific research. Toothpaste with the ADA Seal never has sugar or other decay-promoting ingredients.
You can buy toothpaste in several different forms: paste, gel, or powder configurations. Although they are different consistencies, they all contain the same general ingredients. Reduction in cavities and prevention of gum disease has been proven by using the correct types of toothpaste.
Fluoride is the number one active ingredient to look for in toothpaste. It is the best cavity-fighting agent on the market. Its purpose is to strengthen and protect the enamel on your teeth. Just because many of us have fluoride in our water systems these days doesn’t mean we do not need to have it in our toothpaste. The teeth depend on fluoride directly contacting their surface. This ingredient reduces acid-causing damage from acid erosion and lessens the risk of tooth decay. There are a few types of fluoride you may see in the listed components:
Stannous Fluoride – the staining formerly seen when using this fluoride formula is no longer an issue, as scientists have been able to stabilize it.
Sodium Fluoride – more commonly found in standard toothpaste preparations.
Sodium Monofluorophosphate – fluoride compound said to have less aftertaste than others.
We recommend fluoride toothpaste for children over the age of three. For children under six years of age, an amount the size of a grain of rice is best to prevent your child from swallowing it. Pea-size amounts are recommended for those over six. Our team at Jungle Roots is happy to make recommendations for your child’s specific needs.
Tartar Control Toothpaste
Tartar on your teeth is difficult to remove, even when you do not have braces. Tartar is caused by plaque build-up over time. It solidifies and can produce periodontal disease and decay. Using a toothpaste containing a tartar control agent such as bicarbonate or potassium nitrate boosts the removal power of the fluoride toothpaste when brushing is done correctly and thoroughly. The ingredients pyrophosphates and zinc citrate may be listed and are tartar controlling agents. They all fight plaque and gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Tartar can be prevented, but once it has formed, it must be removed by our dental professionals.
For Sensitive Teeth
Consider using a desensitizing toothpaste if your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or sugary tasting foods or beverages. These kinds of toothpaste usually have compounds such as potassium nitrate, which decreases the excitability of the nerves of the gums. These cleansers can have fluoride and tartar control as well.
Is Whitening Toothpaste Okay When Wearing Braces?
Tooth cleansers and paste with a whitening agent are a definite “NO!” when choosing a brand or toothpaste form. Damage to the wires and brackets may occur. When your braces are removed, and you’ve used these whitening preparations, you’ll have unsightly white spots on your teeth. Considering the time and energy you have put into keeping your mouth clean and healthy while wearing braces, use the whitening toothpaste after your braces are removed to brighten your smile!
To complete the compounds in any toothpaste preparation, you will find other ingredients listed. Hopefully, discussing these below will demystify some of the names and their purpose, although every toothpaste is different and may have added others for additional benefits:
Mild abrasives – contain cleaning and polishing agents to remove debris and surface stains. Along with the action of your toothbrush, these help all the ingredients do their jobs. You may see Calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, or silica.
Detergents – create foam and help get the toothpaste ingredients through your whole mouth to clean your teeth. Sodium lauryl sulfate is commonly used.
Humectants – glycerol, propylene glycol, and sorbitol are agents that keep your toothpaste from drying out in the tube.
Flavoring agents – for a minty scent and a bit of sweetness, you may see saccharin or natural oils listed. They provide taste without the sugar that causes tooth decay.
Thickening agents - are binders that hold everything together so that the toothpaste, gel, or powder can function.
Brush your teeth for as long as it takes to brush each surface of each tooth. Approximately two whole minutes of brushing will allow the toothpaste ingredients to adhere and treat your teeth surfaces, between teeth, and around your brackets, wires, and bands.
As you brush your teeth and braces, keep in mind these tips:
Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle with the bristles angled towards your gums or the brackets of your braces.
Slight pressure to the surface of the tooth while brushing helps remove plaque.
Use a circular motion around the brackets and along the edge of the gums.
Do this procedure after eating or snacking to remove the debris around the brackets and gums. It means carrying a toothbrush with you or doing a flush of your mouth if brushing is not an option at the time. These practices eliminate cavity-causing bacteria and keep you from embarrassing moments, such as broccoli stuck in a bracket!
Brushing around and between the wires and bands of your braces is complicated. Using an interdental brush may be recommended by our orthodontists at Jungle Roots when your braces are applied. This brush reaches between the brace brackets, wires, and bands to apply toothpaste and cleanse areas of your tooth surface that are not reachable with a manual or motorized toothbrush. There is a reduction in the plaque build-up, and tartar is deterred in those tiny places using this little brush.
Wearing braces and taking care of them can be frustrating, but the end result will be worth it! Choosing the right toothpaste, correctly and thoroughly brushing after meals and snacks, and keeping regularly scheduled orthodontic visits and dental exams are crucial to getting optimal outcomes. With patience and perseverance, your smile will be the best it can be when you have those brackets, wires, and bands removed after your treatment regimen! Our dental professionals at Jungle Roots will be with you throughout the entire process, from beginning to end, and when that hardware is removed, we’ll celebrate your accomplishments with you!
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.