How to look after your braces while self-isolating

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all, and routine dental treatment, like many other non-emergency medical treatments, has been put on the back-burner.

Yet, while our practices are currently only open for emergency appointments, we’re keen to make sure your specialist orthodontic treatment remains as unaffected as possible.

We won’t be able to see you in person, but we do have the means to connect remotely via video consultations (welcome to the future!). 

And in this post, we’ll explain how to care for your braces while self-isolating, highlight the common issues you need to look out for, and share some try-at-home solutions to help you overcome them.

How to Look After Your Braces in Lockdown

The best way to take care of your braces while self-isolating is to continue with your aftercare routine as normal

Remember to brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and be extra careful with what you eat and drink. Avoid sugary and acidic beverages, smoothies, and sweets, which may cause decay or permanent marks to your teeth.

And make sure you give sticky and hard foods a wide berth, too. Caramels, toffees and chewy or boiled sweets can lead to broken braces and, given the circumstances, it’s unlikely that these will be repaired anytime soon.

5 steps to brushing your teeth with braces on

You need to take care when brushing your teeth with braces on because plaque and debris can easily build up inside and around the appliance. 

By following these 5 simple steps, you’ll reach every inch of your teeth — and keep your braces clean.

  1. First, remove the elastics and any other parts of your brace that should come off for cleaning.
  2. Next, clean around the wires and pins of your braces. Take your time, brushing top to bottom and making sure you’re removing any plaque or debris build-up as you go.
  3. Now it’s time to clean your teeth. Brush each tooth individually by first placing your brush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line. Next, apply gentle pressure and move your brush in a smooth circular motion. Do this for around 10 seconds per tooth, and make sure you angle your brush to get to those hard-to-reach places.
  4. Try to floss once a day with waxed floss. Unwaxed floss can tear and get caught in the metal brackets. Take your time, as threading the floss between the brackets and wires can be tricky.
  5. Finally, rinse thoroughly with water or mouthwash. Check your teeth and braces in the mirror. Big smile. Looking good!

Brace Care Tips During Lockdown: Some common issues to look out for — and what to do next

While we’re only dealing with emergency appointments at this time, it doesn’t mean that you need to suffer in silence if something goes wrong with your braces. 

You can contact us and arrange a video consultation with your orthodontist, but in the meantime, here are a few common issues and some try-at-home remedies if you encounter them:

  • Loose Wire or Wire Digging In: If it’s a thin wire, you may be able to use tweezers to replace it in the tube/band. If the wire has rotated around the teeth (resulting in it being short on one side and long on the other), you could use tweezers, a pencil with an eraser on the end, or a teaspoon to push it back into position.

    If the wire is sharp and digging in, you can try covering it with orthodontic wax. Your practice can send you some if you don’t have any, or you can purchase some online. Alternatively, you can use the wax from a Babybel (other hard cheeses are available), Blu tack, or chewing gum.
  • Broken Bonded Retainer: Using your fingers or tweezers, push the wire back down towards the tooth. Cover with ortho wax, cheese wax, Blu Tack, or chewing gum. If it’s come off completely, use a removable retainer if you have any. 
  • Loose Retainer: If your retainer is loose, stop wearing it at night immediately. There’s a risk you could swallow it while sleeping. Instead, wear it for at least six hours during the day while you’re awake.
  • Lost Retainer: If you’ve lost your retainer, contact your practice. We may have access to your final moulds to make you a new retainer and post it to you. If it’s not possible to get a replacement, try a heat mouldable gumshield to wear at night and reduce the risk of unwanted tooth movement. Just remember that these products aren’t specifically designed to hold teeth in place, so the manufacturer can’t be held responsible for any relapse.

Remember to keep your retainer clean, rinse it out after every use, and brush it gently with a soft toothbrush (don’t use toothpaste!) to remove any debris that may have become lodged in the gaps.

What about Invisalign Aligners?

If your current aligner is in good condition and fits well, simply keep wearing it as instructed.

In some cases, you’ll be sent your next sets of aligners to allow you to continue your treatment as normal. We encourage you to contact your practice to discuss your options.

And if you encounter any issues with your aligners, here are some try-at-home solutions:

  • Aligner Doesn’t Fit Properly: Switch to your previous aligner for a few days, then re-fit the next aligner. Still not fitting properly? Contact your practice for advice.
  • Aligner Rubs or Digs In: Try using a nail file to buff down the edge of the aligner to make it more comfortable. If the edge of the aligner is sticking out, using ortho wax can help protect your lip.
  • An Attachment Has Fallen Off: Continue treatment as normal and flag this issue to your orthodontist. Keep an eye on the tooth that’s lost the attachment. If it seems to fit the aligner less well, don’t progress to the next aligner and instead wear the current one as a retainer.
  • The Aligner is Broken or Lost: Switch back to the previous one and contact your practice to have a replacement sent out.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is considered an emergency?

Ordinarily, we would consider damaged braces or an uncomfortable wire or bracket an orthodontic emergency

However, given the current circumstances, we are only seeing patients who are in pain or in danger of inhaling a loose part.

How do I get an emergency appointment?

Please contact your practice and describe your situation in the first instance. It will then be determined if you need to visit the practice, or if you can be seen via video consultation.

If it’s the latter, your orthodontist can perform a visual examination and guide you through one of the try-at-home remedies, if necessary.

What do I need to do if visiting a practice?

If you do need to visit your practice, please observe the following:

  • Only the patient and a chaperone (if required) is allowed in
  • Attend at the time given — you will not be allowed in if you are early or late
  • Please use hand sanitiser on arrival
  • Keep your hands clean and wash them regularly
  • Always carry tissues with you to catch coughs and sneezes
  • Try to avoid close or direct contact

Please do not visit the practice if you:

  • Have any symptoms: cough, fever, or shortness of breath – even if they are mild
  • Fall into a vulnerable category as defined by the UK Government 

We know that this is a challenging time, but we’re here to help. If you have any concerns regarding your treatment, please get in touch with your practice. 

Although we can’t see you in person, we’re ready to hop on a video call and offer advice and guidance when you need it most. 

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