If you’ve ever worn braces, you know that maneuvering around those brackets with a toothbrush and floss can be tricky. Patients often experience plaque build up and unpleasant white spots as a result of permanent orthodontic appliances. Consequently, scientists have wondered: is one type of braces better in preventing bacteria and plaque build up than another?
A team of researchers at OHSU’s School of Dentistry, led by Curt Machida, PhD, professor of integrative biosciences and pediatric dentistry, have found that plaque formation and bacteria levels are the same in patients with two common types of braces, elastomeric and self-ligating, after one year. An earlier five-week pilot study indicated that plaque retention was higher in the “rubber band” style elastomeric braces, but when researchers were able to look at both styles of braces after a year-long period, the results evened out.
Dr. Machida’s conclusion: “The disappearance of differences in total plaque bacteria surrounding the two bracket types after one year of orthodontic treatment may be due to decreases in patient compliance with oral hygiene practices.” It seems that paying better attention to hygiene may be more effective in lowering bacteria levels than opting for a different type of braces.