How To Care For Your Smile Between Orthodontic Visits

COVID-19 has presented all of us with many challenges over the last year. Here at Mack Orthodontics, temporary closings and stay-at-home orders have meant that we have not been able to see patients as often as we normally would. If you’re a current patient, you may be wondering if there’s anything special you should do to care for your smile between orthodontic visits. Let’s explore how you can keep your teeth and appliance in great shape, especially if you have to wait longer to see us! Keep reading below for more information. 

Maintain your dental hygiene

Upkeeping the health of your teeth and gums is always important, but it’s an essential part of your treatment plan, too. Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to longer treatment times, and can even impact the final results. Whether you’re wearing traditional braces or clear aligners, there are some basics of dental hygiene basics that you should always upkeep! Follow these guidelines for clean teeth, a healthy mouth, and fresh breath. 

  • Brush at least three times a day, after each meal and once before bed.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across the teeth to efficiently remove bacteria and any trapped food particles.
  • Floss at least once per day to remove food and bacteria.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness.
  • Use antimicrobial and fluoride 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’re an Invisalign patient, you should be following the same basic guidelines for dental hygiene, but you need to clean your aligners, too. Always rinse them off before putting them back in your mouth, and remember to clean them thoroughly with soap and water at least twice a day. If you notice any build-up, you can soak your aligners in a retainer or denture cleaner to remove it. Never use hot water to clean or soak them, and keep them away from heat sources like radiators or ovens so they retain their shape. 

Follow our guidelines

If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, take care to wear them exactly as directed. If you’ve completed treatment recently, 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. Our doctors are also available for video appointments if you have any questions or concerns. These and other socially-distanced options allow us to continue providing our patients with treatment 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. Instead of keeping them in the normal 20-22 hours, you should only wear them for 10-12 hours each day. This will help extend the life of your aligners until we can see you again. It also keeps your treatment plan on track and ensures you don’t lose any of your hard-earned progress! 

Limit your sugar intake

Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since orthodontic treatment can sometimes make your teeth more susceptible to cavities. To combat this, try to avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Snacks that are high in starch or sugar can increase plaque growth, which can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. 

Sugar is also a carbohydrate, and carbs fuel the acids that cause cavities to form. This is bad enough on teeth without braces, but add in brackets and wires and you’ve got many little crevasses 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 prepare for any temporary difficulties that may arise 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, in case one of yours breaks
  • 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 in a small, portable bag and you’ll have everything you need with you in case of an emergency! This can end up saving you quite a bit of time, trouble, and discomfort if you are, for one reason or another, unable to immediately meet with us. 

Your smile is a team effort at Mack Orthodontics

Even when you aren’t in our Burlington or Hillsborough office, we’re on your side! Our expert team is here for you, and we’re always happy to answer your questions or address any concerns you might have about your treatment plan. You can contact us via email or phone, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

For more ways to be proactive with the orthodontic process, click here or get in touch to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.