Braces and Bad Breath - What Patients Can Do
By Kellyn Hodges on January 20, 2014
If you have teeth that are crooked or poorly aligned, there are plenty of reasons to have them straightened. What you may not have realized is that there is more to this than mere aesthetics. When teeth are poorly aligned, tooth damage, teeth grinding (bruxism), and other dental health and general health problems become more likely. This is why it's important to meet with an orthodontist to discuss your various options for care. One common treatment for children, teens, and adults is braces.
We get a lot of questions regarding treatment with braces and what patients can expect. One particular question that we want to focus on right now is this: Can braces cause bad breath?
About Bad Breath
First let's talk about bad breath itself. Bad breath is caused by the bacteria that naturally occurs inside of the mouth. This bacteria (which also causes cavities and gum disease) feeds on food particles in different parts of the mouth. In the process of feeding, the bacteria produces the odors most associated with bad breath.
Can having braces lead to bad breath?
Yes, having braces can contribute to having bad breath or make a person's breath more noticeable. Note, however, that the braces themselves are not the cause of the bad breath per se.
Why is that the case?
When braces are in place, it is possible to have food particles get trapped in or on the brackets and wires. This provides more food for the oral bacteria to feed on, and the more food particles that are in the mouth, the more likely it is that bad breath will occur.
Tips for Prevention of Bad Breath
In order to prevent or minimize bad breath, there are a few things that patients with braces should consider:
- Brush your teeth after every meal - While brushing your teeth twice a day is good, brushing after every meal will remove all food particles from the mouth and on the braces.
- Floss after every meal - Flossing once a night is helpful, but flossing every time after you eat is a sure way to remove food particles and avoid bad breath.
- Drink water during and between meals - Drinking water helps remove food particles in the mouth. In addition, the hydration helps prevent dry mouth, which can exacerbate issues with bad breath.
- Consider a tongue scraper - Bacteria can reside on the tongue and feast away on food particles that way. Brushing the tongue can help, though this causes many patients to gag. A tongue scraper cleans the tongue without triggering the gag reflex.
Alternatives to Braces
Some patients may be eligible for Invisalign treatment instead of braces. Invisalign uses removable clear plastic aligner trays rather than brackets to adjust tooth position. These Invisalign aligners are easy to clean and they make brushing and flossing easier as well when compared to traditional braces. We can go over eligibility for Invisalign in greater detail during your visit to the practice.
Learn More About Orthodontic Care
For more information about braces and your many other options out there for advanced dental wellness, be sure to contact our orthodontists serving the Philadelphia area today. The entire team here looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve a beautiful smile and good health overall.