If you’re planning to work towards a better version of yourself this year, this is the perfect time to take a look at how you’re caring for your smile. Because your oral health and your overall health go hand in hand, a good dental hygiene routine is key in keeping your teeth and gums looking and feeling great.
Here at Kaplan Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping you discover your happiest smile ever! That’s why we’ve put together a few of our favorite tips on caring for your teeth as you straighten them. Keep reading below to learn more about achieving excellent oral health and a confident smile in 2019!
Brush up on your oral hygiene
Brushing and flossing daily is a huge part of having a healthy mouth, something you’ve no doubt been reminded of since you were old enough to hold a toothbrush! While you may have heard this same message a million times, it’s worth repeating again – a good oral hygiene routine really is the best way to give you a clean, healthy, and fully functioning mouth. How you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it, but you’d be surprised how many people get this part wrong!
In order to successfully rid your teeth and gums of the kind of bacterial plaque that can cause cavities and tooth decay, there are some basic steps you should always try to follow. 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 bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
- using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes if needed, or for an extra boost
While we encourage everyone to take their oral health seriously, it’s especially important if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Braces patients, in particular, must take care to clean their appliance effectively, along with the mouth, since the brackets and wires can make things tricky. Aside from mastering the basics of brushing and flossing, check out the following if you want to add some extra oomph to your oral hygiene habits!
- replacing your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear (or if you’ve had any colds or illnesses)
- brushing around every part of your braces if you wear them
- brushing the surface of every tooth
- flossing every night before you go to bed, taking advantage of tools like a floss threader or waterpik if you’re having trouble reaching the tighter spaces
A note on clear aligner therapy
Are you using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your smile, instead of traditional braces? While they offer a bit more flexibility and freedom than braces, patient compliance is essential for the system to work properly. That means you should be taking care of your aligners by removing them every time you eat or drink anything other than water, wearing them for 20-22 hours each day, and changing them out on the schedule Dr. Kaplan has given you.
Make the most of the tools available to you
As we mentioned above, traditional braces can sometimes complicate your dental hygiene routine. Fortunately, there are a number of products available that have been designed to make this process more efficient!
For example, floss threaders can be a great alternative to regular dental floss. The name comes from the way it threads a bit like a needle, and it 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. When you write it all down, it sounds more complicated than it actually is! If you’d like to try floss threading and aren’t sure where to start, we’re happy to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the office.
Interdental brushes can also help keep your teeth clean since they fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, removing hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. Oral irrigators like a Waterpik have a similar effect by shooting a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, getting rid any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.
Remember that none of these products should be used to replace your normal brushing and flossing routine, only supplement it.
On the go care for clean teeth and healthy mouths
While we recommend brushing and flossing after every meal, we know how difficult that can be if you’re away from home for an extended period of time. With today’s families busier than ever before, we suggest you get ahead of the game by stocking a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re a braces patient, throw a little bit of orthodontic wax in there, too. This will give you a quick fix in case of any minor emergencies!
Start the new year off with a smile from Kaplan Orthodontics
At Kaplan Orthodontics, we have a talented team dedicated to giving you a beautifully aligned smile and a rewarding orthodontic experience. But our commitment to care doesn’t stop there! We want you to have a healthy mouth, too, and following the simple tips we’ve listed above is a great place to start. Of course, we’re always around if you happen to need a little extra help or encouragement, as well. Our hope is that this year will be full of lasting change and confident smiles, for you and for each one of our Kaplan patients.