Help! Can I Fix a Cavity With Braces? We Have the Answer



Many people get cavities and go to the dentist to fix that cavity. It’s a simple enough process. But what happens when you get a cavity with braces? Can you get a filling with braces? Do you have to wait to fix the cavity, or should you get a filling right away? It can be confusing and a little intimidating.

Northwest Orthodontics has the answers to these questions and more. We encourage our patients to keep up with their oral hygiene during braces, but we understand that cavities can still happen. Here’s what you can do if you get cavities with braces. 


Braces and Cavities

Not flossing or brushing teeth regularly can lead to an increased risk of cavities, especially for children and teenagers with braces. It's so important to maintain good oral hygiene habits while wearing braces. Neglecting those habits can result in cavities and decay, which can damage your teeth and ruin the beautiful smile you hope to see after removing your braces.

No one wants cavities — but it's especially disappointing to find out you have cavities after spending time in braces. This is why good oral health is so important. Cavities can develop quickly in the areas between teeth since flossing becomes more challenging in those areas.

When seeking orthodontic services in Northwest Arkansas or the River Valley, it's important to locate a trustworthy orthodontist who can offer the necessary care and guidance for your braces journey. Getting proper orthodontic treatment in NWA can help guarantee that your teeth and oral health are well-managed while wearing braces. By visiting an orthodontist in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, or Centerton regularly, they can keep track of your progress, make required adjustments, and provide advice on maintaining good oral hygiene throughout your orthodontic treatment.

Can Braces Cause Tooth Decay?

Cavities can happen whether you have braces or not, and contrary to certain myths, braces don’t cause cavities. Cavities are caused by tooth decay due to poor oral hygiene habits. People can be more prone to cavities because of certain factors, such as genetic conditions or certain medications. For the most part, cavities happen because the person doesn’t brush and floss properly or see a dentist for regular cleaning. Plaque builds up on the tooth, and the bacteria in the plaque breaks down the enamel, the tooth’s hard outer shell. This creates a cavity. 

Cavities may not seem serious at first because they may not even hurt. Left untreated, the cavity damages the dentin, the tooth’s interior protective layer, which makes the tooth more sensitive. If not repaired, the cavity will break through to the living center of the tooth, known as the pulp. This is where the blood vessels and nerves are located. Damage to the pulp can cause infection, extreme pain, and tooth loss. This can happen in as little as three months, which is why it’s so important to get the cavity filled as soon as possible. 

What are the signs of tooth Decay?

Tooth decay can be identified by several symptoms that include:

Severe Toothache

If you have persistent pain in one or more teeth, it could be a sign of tooth decay. Pain is the most easily-recognized symptom of tooth decay, and it may appear suddenly or after eating. This pain may cause discomfort in or around your mouth, and you could also experience pressure while chewing food.

New or Increased sensitivity to hot or cold food

If you experience a new or worse sensitivity after consuming hot or cold food, it could indicate tooth decay. Tooth enamel wearing down can impact dentin, which is the hard tissue layer underneath it. Dentin contains many tiny hollow tubes, and consuming hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods can aggravate nerves and cells within the teeth when there isn't enough enamel protecting the dentin. This leads to the sensitivity you feel if you have a cavity.

Holes in the teeth

Tooth decay can result in visible holes in your teeth, but some holes may not be noticeable, especially those in tight areas between teeth. Despite not being seen or felt, tenderness or pain may still be experienced in the affected area. It is advisable to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you detect a hole or cavity in your tooth as it is a clear indication of tooth decay.

Discoloration or Stains on teeth

Tooth discoloration can start as white spots and become thicker as decay sets in. Cavities can cause staining on the tooth surface that can be brown, black, or white.

What happens if you have tooth decay with braces?

The most important thing to know is that if you do develop tooth decay with braces, it can be treated.

Treatment with braces may be a bit challenging, but still feasible. Often, tooth decay happens in the crevices of teeth, near braces, and wires. In case of severe decay, your dentist can take out the wire to treat the issue appropriately.

In some cases of severe tooth decay, brackets on teeth may need to be removed in order to perform dental care. However, this is not a common procedure, and the missing bracket is promptly replaced to prevent any tooth movement.

Can You Have Cavities and Get Braces? 

We want to start your orthodontic treatment on the right foot. That’s why we encourage our patients to visit the dentist first for a thorough cleaning and x-rays to ensure they don’t have any cavities prior to starting orthodontic treatment.  

Cavities weaken your tooth, which could cause problems as we prepare to move your teeth into their correct positions. Fillings strengthen your teeth, and they will keep bacteria from growing and causing further damage. Fillings won’t affect your ability to wear braces or clear aligners. 


Can I Get a Filling With Braces? 

What if you already have braces? Can you get a cavity filled with braces on? It’s possible to get a cavity with braces, but it’s not very common. You visit the dentist and the orthodontist often, and we can spot potential problems and stop them before they get worse. That said, poor hygiene can lead to cavities, with or without braces. 

It can be complicated to fill a cavity with braces, but it’s definitely possible. Depending on the cavity location, we can remove your archwire to give the dentist easier access to the cavity. Then we will replace the archwire once the cavity is filled and the filling has set — usually within 24 hours. You’ll then return to us and we’ll put your archwire back to continue your treatment. 

How to prevent tooth decay with braces

Both parents and patients agree that preventing cavities is far preferable to treating them. The best offense is a great defense, right? Improperly cleaned braces can trap food particles, leading to the buildup of sticky dirt, bacteria, and plaque on your teeth and gums. This can result in tooth decay. To prevent tooth decay, follow these dental hygiene practices:

Good Nutrition with Braces

It's important to steer clear of certain foods if you wear braces to prevent damaging them and risking tooth decay. Foods like nuts, pretzels, gummies, and ice should be avoided. Additionally, fruits and vegetables should be cut into bite-sized pieces and placed into the mouth instead of bitten into whole. To prevent damaging or breaking your braces and prolonging your treatment time, it's important to steer clear of sticky and chewy foods such as caramel, gummy bears, and chewing gum.

While wearing dental braces, there are many great food options that are safe to eat. It is recommended to stick to softer foods such as fruits, which not only won't damage your braces but also provide health benefits.

Brush and Floss Regularly

To maintain good oral hygiene while wearing braces, it's important to adjust your dental routine and pay closer attention to your brushing habits. Plaque can accumulate in hard-to-reach areas like brackets and wires, making proper dental care even more essential to prevent tooth decay.

Brush After Every Meal

Brushing your teeth after every meal can significantly reduce the chances of food particles getting stuck and help prevent tooth decay.

Getting Braces in Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Orthodontics wants you to have the smile of your dreams, and we know it’s about more than just wearing braces. It’s about breaking bad oral habits and learning great oral hygiene habits that will protect your new smile throughout your lifetime. Whether you’re in Northwest Arkansas or the River Valley, we can help you begin your journey to an amazing smile. Start with a virtual consultation, then we’ll bring you in for a full evaluation and let you know your best treatment options.

Whether you’ve had cavities in the past or not, you can get a beautiful smile with braces! 

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Northwest Orthodontics is located in Centerton, Fort Smith, & Fayetteville, AR but happily serves Bentonville, Farmington, Springdale, Rogers, Johnson Prairie Grove, West Fork, Tontitown, The River Valley, and Northwest Arkansas. The contents of are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Copying without permission is strictly forbidden.

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