—Visitor from Nanuet, New York
As we explain on our bad breath pages, mouth odor is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria feed on food particles that are left in your mouth.
When you have braces, you have brackets and wires that are terrible for catching food. Especially between the brackets and your gums, every time you eat the brackets will catch tremendous amounts of food. Your saliva partially digests this food, and then bacteria feed on the remnants. It sounds gross, but this is what is going on in your mouth. Think of what your kitchen garbage smells like if you throw all the food from everyone’s plate there and then just let it sit and rot. It smells terrible.
You need to clean this off after every time you eat. When you have braces, forget about brushing your teeth twice a day. You really need to carry a brush with you and, when you’re not home, slip into a restroom and brush out the gunk from your teeth. If that’s not possible, at least swish. Pick up a toothpick if you have to–it’s better than nothing. Push the toothbrush bristles up between the wires and your teeth from the top and the bottom and get all that stuff out, because it’s just going to start smelling.
Besides causing bad breath, the gunk you leave on your teeth to rot also causes “decalcification” of your front teeth. If you don’t clean your teeth well while you have braces, you will end up with big, soft white spots around your braces on your teeth, and little pits, right on the front of your front teeth. Not too pretty. Some dentists recommend the use of Tooth Mousse to help treat these spots or keep them from forming.
Brushing every time you eat anything–that’s the key to keeping bad breath under control while you have braces.
—Dr. David Hall
Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question.