Even if you’re not a big fan of resolutions, there’s something exciting about starting a brand new year. Something about flipping over the first page of a calendar makes us want to take positive action and be the best version of ourselves we can be! While these changes often focus on things like healthier eating, exercising more regularly, or saving up extra money for a rainy day, we think it’s also the perfect time to consider your oral hygiene routine. Are you doing everything you can to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy while you’re an orthodontic patient? Here at David Ross Orthodontics, we’re all about smiles, so we’ve put together a collection of tips and tricks to help you keep yours looking and feeling great throughout 2019!
Brush up on oral care
From early childhood, we’re told that brushing and flossing regularly is the best way to keep our mouths healthy. That’s because it is! We recommend you use a soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste, and brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. You should also be flossing every night before you go to bed. If you’re one of our braces patients, it’s important to carefully clean around the brackets and wires. Interdental brushes are helpful for this, as they can easily fit in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. We’ll talk more about these and other tools below.
The basics of brushing
It may not seem like rocket science, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t brush properly! For a smile that sparkles, here are some basic brushing guidelines to follow.
- Brush all your teeth, every time you brush.
- Keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the teeth back up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of your teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Consistently brush across each tooth, giving equal time to all teeth.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.
Take advantage of anything that makes oral care more efficient!
It’s no secret that traditional braces can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated. Fortunately, there are a number of products available to help make oral care easier and more efficient! For example, floss threaders are a great alternative to regular dental floss. It gets its name from threading 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 lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. If you’re feeling unsure about trying it, let us know and we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office.
Another product you may find helpful to you as an orthodontic patient is an oral irrigator like a Waterpik, which is used to supplement your normal brushing and flossing routine. These shoot a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, removing any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces in a snap.
Healthy foods = healthy mouth
Now that you’re not staring down tables full of holiday food anymore, it’s a good time to go over all the foods you should avoid while in braces versus all the foods you can dig into! If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with David Ross Orthodontics using traditional braces, you should keep the following items on the back burner for now.
- Chewy foods like licorice and bagels
- Hard, crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candies
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and fruit snacks
- Foods you have to bite into, such as corn on the cob, raw apples, and carrots
Even though this list may feel a little restrictive at times, there are still a ton of delicious foods you can enjoy, and so much out there that’s good for your mind, body, and mouth! Milk and other dairy products are delicious, and pack a calcium-filled punch to help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy. Whole grain breads and pastas have complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and they also offer many nutrients to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Chicken, tender red meat, and fatty fish are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that strengthens and protects the enamel on your teeth. And last but not least, eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body and teeth! Leafy greens in particular contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are instrumental in maintaining oral health.
If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, be sure you’re removing your aligner before every meal and snack. You should also be gently cleaning your aligner every night. Although you won’t have the same restrictions that someone in braces does, you’ll still benefit from eating the healthy, nutrient-rich food we’ve listed above!
Clean your mouth on the go
With today’s families busier than ever before, there may be times you really need to brush or floss, but you’re away from home. We recommended that our patients brush and floss after every meal, but that can be hard if you’re on the road somewhere! To care for your teeth and gums on the go, stock a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, add orthodontic wax to your kit, too. This gives you a quick fix in case of minor emergencies!
Start the year off with a smile from David Ross Orthodontics
Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, our team wants to help you start this year off right by keeping your mouth healthy and your smile happy! If you’re in Hanover or the surrounding communities, and want to know more about the best ways to care for your teeth and gums in 2019 and beyond, get in touch with us today.