Even if you don’t love the idea of New Year’s resolutions, it can provide you with the perfect excuse to focus on making positive changes to your life. As busy as today’s world is, it can often be hard to find time to do things for yourself, but each January seems to bring a sense of energy and excitement that you can take advantage of, whether you want to lose a few pounds, get into the gym more regularly, or improve your oral health.
If this is the year you want to take your smile to the next level, Swan Orthodontics is here to help! When it comes to keeping your smile in tip-top shape while undergoing orthodontic treatment, a good oral hygiene routine is key. To maintain teeth and gums that look and feel great in 2019 and beyond, follow these tips we’ve put together below. Keep reading to learn more about how to achieve excellent oral health and a confident smile!
Take a closer look at your oral habits
At this point in our lives, most of us tend to have an oral hygiene routine we’re comfortable with. However, it’s worth reviewing that routine from time to time, just to be sure you’re still doing everything you can to keep your mouth healthy and your smile sparkling clean. It’s no secret that brushing and flossing daily is the best way to maintain oral health, but you may not know that how you carry out these tasks is almost as important as how often you do them. In fact, you’d probably be surprised how many people get this part wrong. That’s where we come in!
If left to accumulate, bacterial plaque can cause cavities, tooth decay, and even gum disease. To successfully remove it, there are some basic steps you should follow when cleaning your teeth and gums in order to do so efficiently and effectively. These include:
- brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
- brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of the teeth to remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
- flossing at least once per day to remove any bacteria and food that has accumulated throughout the day
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes as needed
While each of us should take our oral health seriously, it becomes even more important when you’re an orthodontic patient, especially if you’re in braces. That’s because the brackets and wires can create little nooks and crannies that take a little more time and effort to clean thoroughly, so you’ll need to take care to keep your mouth and your appliance free of debris by cleaning them carefully.
Once you’ve brushed up on all your oral hygiene basics, we recommend adding these additional tips to your dental hygiene routine to add a little extra oomph to your smile!
- Replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear (or when you’ve had a cold or any other illness)
- Brush around every part of your braces
- Brush the surface of every tooth
- Floss every night before you go to bed
Tips and reminders for clear aligner therapy patients
Using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten their smile gives you a little more freedom and flexibility than those in traditional braces, but it does rely on your patient compliance. What this means is that in order for the system to work properly, you must always:
- remove your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water
- brush your teeth and the aligners before placing them back in your mouth
- wear your aligners for 22-23 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment
- change your aligners out as instructed
If you don’t follow our recommendations, it can result in a longer treatment time and may even affect the overall success of the system.
Take advantage of the tools available
As we briefly mentioned above, traditional braces can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated, especially in the early days. The good news is, there are a large number of products on the market that have been designed to make the cleaning process easier (and more efficient!)
For example, floss threaders can be a great alternative to regular dental flossing. As you might expect from the name, it threads a bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This allows you to grab the floss on each end, sliding it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. Trust us when we say it sounds more complicated than it actually is! Regardless, if you’d like to try this method but aren’t sure where to start, we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office.
Interproximal brushes are another tool we love for keeping teeth clean while you’re in braces. The brushes are able to fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, removing the plaque and food debris from areas that can otherwise be hard to reach. Oral irrigators like Waterpiks work similarly by shooting a high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, targeting any remaining food debris and plaque that may be stuck between your teeth and braces.
As helpful as these products can be, you shouldn’t use them to replace your take the place of your normal oral hygiene routine. They work best in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.
In an ideal world, all of our patients would brush and floss after every meal! But we know that can be difficult when you’re on the go for an extended period of time, so we suggest anticipating the need for care on the go-ahead of time by stocking a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, we recommend adding some orthodontic wax, too. This way you’ll have always have a quick fix with you in case any minor emergencies pop up!
Get your smile in shape in 2019 with Swan Orthodontics
When you choose Swan Orthodontics, you can count on our talented team to give you a rewarding orthodontic experience and a beautifully aligned smile, but our commitment to your care doesn’t stop there! While the simple tips above give you a great start on improving your oral health, we’re always here if you find yourself needing a little extra help or encouragement, too. We’re excited to work with you this year towards the healthy smile you want – and deserve!