How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Nobody wants bad breath—and sometimes, the causes of it seem out of your control. With braces or aligners, you might notice you’re more vulnerable to it. Texas Family Orthodontics is here to help answer a pretty important question: How can I prevent bad breath during orthodontic treatment?

The Parts of Braces

Braces are composed of different parts that work together to achieve alignment as planned by Dr. Vo. Here are the traditional components that can be partially responsible for bad breath.

  • Brackets are small, square pieces attached to the front or back surface of the teeth. Depending on the patient’s needs and desires, they can be metal or ceramic
  • Wires are the thin lines that connect the brackets and apply sustained force to the teeth over time. 
  • Elastics can apply additional force to specific areas as determined by our team and come in several colors. 
  • Aligners are clear plastic trays that are custom-formed to fit your mouth and apply the pressure required to move the teeth.

Now We’ve Got Bad Breath

With these main components in mind, we can cover some of the reasons that halitosis (aka bad breath) develops during orthodontic treatment: 

  • Plaque Buildup: The components of braces and clear aligners create additional surfaces, nooks, and crannies where plaque and food particles accumulate and get trapped—especially around brackets and wires. Plaque can contribute to bacterial growth when it goes unchecked.
  • Difficulty Cleaning: Areas around brackets and wires can be hard to reach with traditional brushing and flossing, making it challenging to clean properly.
  • Dry Mouth: Some patients experience dry mouth as a side effect of wearing braces or aligners or due to a change in saliva production or lip posture. Dry mouth contributes to bad breath because saliva helps to wash away food particles and bacteria in the mouth. The reduced saliva flow can allow bacteria to proliferate, leading to odor-causing compounds.
  • Dietary Factors: Certain foods, such as onions, garlic, and spices, can obviously contribute to bad breath. Again, this tends to be worse with braces and aligners since the odors can linger on them and become more noticeable when food particles get trapped.
  • Orthodontic Appliances: Besides traditional braces, other appliances have their own issues. Things like expanders and retainers can have a similar impact by harboring food debris or bacteria if not cleaned properly. Neglecting to clean these appliances regularly can lead to bad breath. 

How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Fixing The Problem

The good news is there are plenty of ways to help remedy this condition. Most of them revolve around having a solid oral hygiene routine.

  • A Healthy Mouth: Brush your teeth, aligners, and appliances thoroughly after every single meal and snack, as well as before bedtime. Pay special attention to brushing around the brackets, wires, and gumline to remove food particles and residual plaque.
  • Floss Daily: Brushing and flossing work hand in hand. Use a floss threader or water flosser to clean between your teeth as well as around your components. This will help you to remove debris that your brush might’ve missed. 
  • Interdental Brushes: These can help to clean hard-to-reach areas and are used specifically for braces by a lot of people. This, in combination with flossing, can help you have an effective oral routine.
  • Rinse with Mouthwash: Use an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Rinse after brushing and flossing or as otherwise directed by Dr. Vo.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help stimulate saliva production and wash away bacteria. Dry mouth encourages bacteria formation, so staying hydrated is crucial.
  • Avoid Certain Foods: Foods that are sticky, sugary, or prone to getting trapped in your braces, such as candy and chips, can cause bad breath. Limit these foods in your diet to help reduce this.
  • Attend Regular Dental Check-Ups: Schedule regular appointments with your orthodontist and dentist for cleanings and check-ups. They help to monitor your overall oral health and provide guidance on maintaining fresh breath with braces. 
  • Movemints: Ask us about Movemints! Texas Family Orthodontics is happy to offer these orthodontic-specific mints at our office. They help freshen breath, stimulate saliva flow, and are sweetened with a dose of xylitol, which fights against odor-causing bacteria.

A Word to the Wise

It’s no secret that kids can have self-control issues. Part of our job is to keep parents well educated and informed so that their children can be, in turn, able to avoid consequences like smelly breath. Asking questions is always encouraged, regardless of age! 

How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Keep It Clean!

Fixing any problem means first identifying causes—and we hope this blog has helped to clarify some of the main culprits behind bad breath for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. Again, the greatest tip is simply to keep your appliances as clean as you possibly can. That can go a long way! If you’re interested in orthodontic treatment, our San Antonio and Windcrest offices are the perfect place to start looking. You can reach us at 210.405.5732.