In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to find time to do things for yourself. Work, school, gym, extracurriculars, and more take up a lot of time on our schedules, but the beginning of a brand new year is the perfect excuse to focus on making positive changes in your life! This may take the form of New Year’s resolutions, but even if you’re not a fan of that concept, you can still take advantage of the energy each January brings, whether you want to drop a few pounds, get into shape, or improve your oral health.
Are you looking to take your smile to the next level in 2019? If so, a good dental hygiene routine is key. Shaw Orthodontics is all about helping you keep your teeth and gums looking and feeling great while undergoing orthodontic treatment, so we’ve put together a few simple tips for achieving excellent oral health and a confident smile below! Keep reading to learn more.
Review, replace, and renew your oral habits
Most of us have an oral hygiene routine that we stick to. However, it’s worth reviewing from time to time so you can be sure you’re doing all you can to keep your smile in tip-top shape. Brushing and flossing daily is the best way to maintain a clean and healthy mouth, but how you carry out these tasks is almost as important as how often you do them. You’d be surprised how many people get this part wrong, and that’s where we come in!
In order to successfully remove the kind of bacterial plaque that cause cavities and tooth decay, there are some basic steps you should follow to clean your teeth and gums 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
It’s important for each of us to take our oral health seriously, but it becomes even more imperative when you’re an orthodontic patient, especially if you’re in braces. The brackets and wires create nooks and crannies that take a little more time and effort to clean thoroughly, so you must be careful to keep your mouth and your appliance free of debris.
Along with brushing up on all your oral hygiene basics, we recommend these additional tips to add a little extra sparkle 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 if you wear them
- Brush the surface of every tooth
- Floss every night before you go to bed
Clear aligner therapy tips and reminders
If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten their smile, you may experience a bit more freedom and flexibility than those in traditional braces. But patient compliance is non-negotiable, so you still have responsibilities! In order for the system to work properly, you should always:
- remove your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water
- be sure to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment
- change your aligners out on the schedule given to you by Dr. Shaw
Failure to follow our recommendations can result in a longer treatment time and may even affect the overall success of the system.
Use the available tools if needed
As we touched on above, traditional braces can sometimes complicate your dental hygiene routine a bit, especially in the early days. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that are designed to make the process easier (and more efficient!)
As an example, floss threaders are an excellent alternative to regular dental flossing. As the name implies, 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. If you’d like to try this method, but aren’t sure where to start, we’d be happy to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office!
Interdental brushes can also be a big help in keeping teeth clean while you’re in braces. The brushes are able to fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, getting rid of plaque and food debris in areas that can be hard to reach. Oral irrigators like Waterpiks have a similar effect. By shooting a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, they are useful for removing any remaining food debris and plaque stuck between your teeth and braces.
As helpful as these products can be, none of them should take the place of the steps in your normal oral hygiene routine. They’re for supplemental use only, and work best when used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.
Be prepared for anything on the go
In an ideal world, all of our patients would brush and floss after every meal. But we know how busy families are these days, and recognize that can sometimes be impossible if you’re on the go for an extended period of time. However, you can anticipate 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 patient, add some orthodontic wax in, too, so you’ll have always have a quick fix with you in case any minor emergencies pop up!
Get your smile in shape with Shaw Orthodontics
Here at Shaw Orthodontics, our talented team is committed to giving you a beautifully aligned smile, rewarding orthodontic experience, and our care doesn’t stop there! We’re invested in increasing your oral health and your overall health, and while the simple tips above give you a great start on that, we’re here if you need a little extra help or encouragement, too. We look forward to working with you this year towards the healthy, confident smile you want – and deserve!