Braces and clear plastic aligners create new pockets that collect food and bacteria, raising the risk of cavities and ugly stains. “The best results occur when patients become active participants during orthodontic treatment,” says Dr. William Harper, a dentist in Poquoson, Va. His tips:

Consider more cleanings. Seeing a dentist every three or four months helps avoid gum inflammation, bone damage and pricey follow-up treatments.

Supplement regular brushing. At home, follow brushing with an electric water flosser. Also carry small, disposable brushes or picks in your pocket or purse.

Invest in an electric toothbrush. These are better at dislodging food and bacteria from hard-to-reach spots.

Limit acidic drinks. These include diet sodas, fruit juices and sports or energy drinks.