Over the past year, COVID-19 has presented all of us with many new hurdles. Here at Christian Manley Orthodontics, temporary closings and stay-at-home orders have meant that we have been unable to see patients as often as we normally would like to. If you’re a current patient, you may be wondering how you should be caring for your smile between orthodontic visits. Let’s explore how you can keep your teeth and appliance in great shape, especially when you have to wait longer to see us! Keep reading below for more information.
Practice excellent dental hygiene
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is of course always important, but it’s a core part of your treatment plan too. Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to complications in your treatment, and can affect the final results. Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some basics of dental hygiene that you should always follow! These guidelines will help you maintain clean teeth, a healthy mouth, and fresh breath.
- Brush at least three times a day, ideally after each meal and once before bed.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush in a circular pattern across the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles.
- Floss at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
- Use antimicrobial and fluoridated mouthwashes to help further improve your oral health.
If you’re wearing braces, you already know that it can take some skillful maneuvering to clean around the brackets and wires. For the best results, we recommend:
- brushing around every part of your braces
- brushing every surface of every tooth
- brushing until your brackets are clean and shiny
- flossing every night before you go to bed
- using tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas
If you wear Invisalign, you should be following the same basic guidelines for dental hygiene, but you need to care for your aligners, too. Always rinse them off before putting them back in your mouth, and remember to clean them well with soap and water at least twice a day. If you notice any build-up, you can soak your aligners in an oral apparatus cleaning fluid to remove it. Never clean them with or soak them in hot water and keep them away from heat sources so they retain their shape.
Listen to your orthodontist!
If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, ensure that you wear them exactly as directed. If you’ve recently completed treatment, continue to wear your retainer as directed by your doctor.
Invisalign patients will normally be provided with several weeks’ worth of aligners at a time, but if your current set runs out before the next scheduled appointment, we can arrange curbside pick-up for the next set. Dr. Manley is also available for video appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Socially-distanced options like these mean that all of our patients can continue their treatments safely, conveniently, and without delay.
If we’re unable to provide you a new set of aligners right away, you can continue wearing the last set you were given. However, you should only wear them 10-12 hours each day instead of the usual 20-22 hours. This shortened duration will help extend the life of your aligners until an appointment is available. This way you can keep your treatment plan on track and ensure that you don’t lose any important progress!
Limit your sugar intake
Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since most orthodontic procedures can exacerbate the risk of cavities. To combat this, try and avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as you can. Snacks that are high in starch or sugar encourage plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acidic compounds that cause cavities to form. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add in brackets and wires and you’ve got multiple places where bad bacteria can hide and multiply! Swap sugary drinks for water instead—it’s good for your body and can help flush food particles out of your braces and from in between your teeth.
Make a care kit for your braces
We recommend that all of our patients with braces stay prepared for any unexpected orthodontic emergencies by keeping a “care kit” with them at all times. Some of the items we recommend including are:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing wherever you are
- floss or ortho picks to use after eating if you have the time and space to do so
- orthodontic wax, which can be used to cover any areas causing you irritation
- extra rubber bands
- lip balm for dry lips resulting from braces
- a small cup for rinsing with water, which helps dislodge any trapped food particles
- an unsharpened pencil, as you can use the eraser end to push stray brace wires back into place
Throw these items in a small, portable bag and you’ll have everything you need in a pinch! This can end up saving you quite a bit of time, trouble, and discomfort if you need to perform unexpected care or you end up having to wait longer than expected for your next appointment.
Your smile is a team effort at Christian Manley Orthodontics
Even when you’re not physically in our Sammamish or Issaquah offices, we are on your side! Our expert team is here for you, and we’re always happy to answer your questions or address any concerns you have about your treatment plan.
For more ways to be proactive with the orthodontic process, click here or get in touch to schedule an appointment with Dr. Manley.