It hardly seems possible, but here we are in brand new year. Even though we’re still trying to come to terms with how fast 2019 flew by, this feels like the perfect time to give some thought to how you can give your oral health a boost in 2020! Even if you aren’t a big fan of resolutions, a fresh start can still be really exciting. There’s something about that energy that seems to inspire positive, lasting change in people.
While you may be more familiar with more traditional intentions like eating healthier, exercising more often, and getting back to budgeting basics, Shine Orthodontics is all about helping you achieve a healthier, brighter smile. That’s why our expert team has put together this collection of tips and tricks to help you get your smile in shape for 2020—and beyond! To learn more about how you can make the most out of your oral hygiene routine in the year, keep reading below.
Brush up on your dental hygiene
It’s hardly breaking news, but brushing and flossing really is the easiest way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. We recommend brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day for two minutes each time, along with flossing every night before bed. Patients in braces should pay special attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, carefully cleaning around the wires. If you find this difficult, interdental brushes are a great option for getting in between the wires and teeth to remove that hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. Ortho-picks are also designed to make flossing with braces much easier and more effective.
Take it back to the basics
It’s likely that you already have a pretty solid brushing and flossing routine in place. However, it’s still worth reviewing the guidelines occasionally since recommendations can and do change from time to time. While everyone knows that brushing and flossing are an essential part of keeping the mouth clean, many don’t realize that how you do it is almost as important as how often you should do it. Taking oral hygiene back to the basics can help!
In order to successfully remove the plaque and bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay, here are some of the fundamental rules to follow.
- Brush all the teeth every time, and be consistent when brushing across each tooth.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle gently against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the tooth up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.
- Replace toothbrushes every few months, or after any illness.
- Floss every night before bed.
- Take advantage of all the available tools
Flossing can be tricky when you wear braces, especially in the beginning. Along with ortho-picks, floss threaders can make your job a little easier. This tool 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 lets you grab the floss on each end, and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. It may sound complicated, but it really is simple. If you’re still feeling unsure about it, let us know and we can give you a quick tutorial the next time you’re in the office.
Waterpiks and other oral irrigators can also be used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. These instruments shoot targeted high-pressure streams of water into your mouth, helping to remove any remaining food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces for a deep clean.
Healthier foods = a healthier smile
Once the holidays pass, take some time to review what foods you should avoid when you’re in braces, and which ones are okay to indulge in. If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment with us in metal or clear braces, you should be steering clear of:
- any chewy or sticky foods like gummies, bagels, caramels, and gum
- any crunchy or hard foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candy
- any foods you have to bite into, like corn on the cob and raw apples or carrots
We know how frustrating food restrictions can be, but they’re an important part of the treatment process and help keep your braces safe as we straighten your teeth. Fortunately, there are still lots of other delicious treats you can safely chow down on! Try to aim for foods that are good for your braces, body, and mind for the ultimate health benefits. This includes:
Milk and other dairy products
Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy land a calcium-filled punch that helps to keep your bones and teeth strong.
Whole grain breads and pastas
The complex carbohydrates that are found in whole grain products give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. They also provide an abundance of nutrients that keep teeth and gums healthy.
Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
These foods may be more commonly associated with protein, but they also contain phosphorus, an important mineral that helps to strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies are amazing sources of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and magnesium. All of these minerals help to improve and maintain oral health.
If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, you’ll have a bit more freedom and flexibility in what you eat. You should be vigilant about removing your aligner before every meal and snack, though. And remember that even though you don’t have the same food restrictions our braces patients do, you’ll still benefit from eating the healthy, nutrient-rich food we’ve listed here!
Keep your smile looking good on the go
Everybody has a busy schedule these days, so you may find yourself needing to brush and floss while you’re away from home sometimes. Make it easy to maintain a sparkling smile when you’re out and about by keeping a small bag stocked with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re a braces patient, add some dental wax to your kit, too. This provides you with a quick fix in case of an on-the-go emergency.
Start the new year off right with Shine Orthodontics
Here at Shine Orthodontics, we make it our mission to give patients of all ages a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Whether you’re a past, present, or future patient, we’d love to see you kick off the new year with these tips for keeping your smile healthy and happy! If you’re in the Holly Springs area and want to learn more about the orthodontic care we offer, get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation with Dr. McGrogan.