Six Must-Haves for Cleaning Teeth with Braces or Aligners When You’re on the Go

July 31, 2018

Patients with any type of orthodontic appliance should be cleaning their teeth multiple times a day. Situations inevitably come up when you’re on the go and need to freshen up. Do your teeth a favor and be prepared. Stash portable items in a backpack, purse, school locker or briefcase. You’ll be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful smile when treatment wraps up. Here are six must-haves for cleaning teeth on the go.

1. Water.

It’s your friend. And it’s readily available at bathroom sinks. After eating, or after drinking a sugary and/or acidic beverage, if you realize your toothbrush is nowhere to be found, give your mouth a thorough rinse with plain water. Swish it around to get rid of food particles or traces of beverages. Water even helps to decrease the decay-causing acidity of your mouth. A water rinse is not as good as brushing, but it’s much better than allowing materials to remain on, and in between, teeth.

2. A toothbrush.

Even without toothpaste, brushing removes food and plaque and will help you keep your teeth healthy. A travel toothbrush takes up about half the space of a regular toothbrush. But if you prefer a full-sized toothbrush, we won’t argue with you.

3. An interproximal brush.

This is a remarkable little tool. It’s small and very easy to carry along. Use it to get at food that’s stuck around brackets, between the archwire and teeth, and in between teeth. It’s effective at attacking plaque, too. You may develop such a great appreciation for your interproximal brush that you continue using it after you complete your orthodontic treatment!

4. Floss.

Also for cleaning between teeth, the space between the archwire and the teeth, and especially under the gumline. If you have braces, be sure a floss threader is stowed with your floss. That is, unless you are using “pre-threaded” floss, pre-cut to length and with an aglet tip (like a shoelace). Some brands come in single-use packets, which take up next-to-no space. Those with aligners may be able to use a flosser, if that’s the tool you prefer. A bonus: minty floss freshens breath, too.

5. A mirror.

A pocket mirror can be handy when you brush. A post-brush check will reveal whether anything unwanted is still there. An alternative: use the selfie camera in your smart phone.

6. Toothpaste.

Travel-sized tubes are convenient.

Consider these “nice-to-haves,” too:

  • Orthodontic wax – if a bracket or wire rubs a sore spot, wax quickly puts a stop to the irritation.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen – great to have on hand. Students may be required to leave such medicines with the school nurse.

A little extra effort at home and away pays big dividends in shaping your new smile!

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.