At New England Orthodontic Specialists, we believe a healthy mouth can change your life. Straightening your teeth and correcting misalignments will transform not only the appearance of your smile but the way it functions, too. Orthodontic treatment is an effective way to achieve long-lasting results you’ll love! While you can count on our doctors to handle most of the hard work, there’s another factor in how successful the treatment process is—you.
It’s true! When you stick to the guidelines you’ve been given and follow our doctors’ recommendations throughout treatment, it will help ensure the best results in the shortest amount of time possible. But the reverse is true as well. When you ignore our advice and don’t take care of your teeth and gums, it may lead to longer treatment times and can even affect your final results. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to keep your smile healthy as we straighten it! Keep reading for some easy tips on caring for your teeth in between appointments.
Basic care for braces
If you examine your smile in the mirror for a minute, you can see all the little nooks and crannies your braces create. The brackets and wires we use are fantastic for moving teeth, but they can also attract food particles, plaque, and bacteria. As a braces patient, you have an increased risk of developing cavities, tooth decay, or even gum disease during treatment. That’s why a good dental hygiene routine is an essential part of any orthodontic journey!
When you don’t clean your brackets and teeth effectively, the enamel begins losing minerals. This is an early sign of tooth decay that can leave noticeable white spots and may cause some symptoms of gingivitis, like inflammation or bleeding gums. These problems can be reversed by adjusting your oral hygiene routine, however! Try following these basic guidelines to get the most out of brushing and flossing while you’re in braces.
- Brush around each part of your braces after every meal and snack.
- If you’re unable to brush right away, rinse with water to help dislodge any stray food particles.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Brush gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line, moving the toothbrush across every surface of every tooth to effectively remove bacteria and any debris.
- Floss every night before bed to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day. Use tools like floss threaders and Waterpiks to clean hard-to-reach areas around your braces.
- 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.
Healthy smiles for Invisalign patients
Oral hygiene is often easier with a clear aligner system like Invisalign. You’re not entirely off the hook here, though. You’ll still need to care for your teeth and aligners during treatment. That begins with basic hygiene! Remember to always wash your hands before taking aligners out and putting them back in your mouth. Rinse your aligner any time you remove it and use a cleaning solution with lukewarm 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.
Extreme temperatures of any kind can warp your aligners and cause them to lose their natural shape, so you should never leave your Invisalign aligners in a hot car. Be sure to avoid very cold or very hot water when rinsing and cleaning them, too. You should also be mindful of where your aligners are when they’re not in your mouth! If you aren’t wearing them, store your aligners in an approved case to keep them clean and bacteria-free.
Schedule regular visits with your dentist
Every orthodontic treatment plan includes regular follow-up visits with Dr. Diana and Dr. Neil. These appointments allow your doctor to check that everything is progressing as it should be and make any necessary adjustments. It’s important to continue seeing your dentist regularly as well! Although you’ll be under our care throughout the orthodontic process, your dentist will still be considered your primary oral health physician. Their job is to help you maintain a healthy mouth and identify any issues with your dental health. We encourage all of our patients to check in with their dentist once every six months or so for the best results.
Be prepared for any issues that may pop up on the go
It’s not unusual for orthodontic issues to happen occasionally, but it can be frustrating if you’re running errands or out on the town! To stay prepared for any potential problems, put a “care kit” together and keep it with you when you’re on the go. Consider including basics like:
- a soft-bristled toothbrush
- a small tube of fluoride toothpaste
- dental floss or ortho picks
- orthodontic wax if you wear braces
- extra rubber bands
- lip balm
- a small cup for rinsing with water
- an unsharpened pencil (the eraser end can be used to push stray wires back into place)
Throw this kit in a small bag to keep in your backpack or purse, and you’ll be ready for anything! Remember to always get in touch with our team if you experience a real orthodontic emergency, however. Our doctors will assess the situation and let you know your next steps.
Give your smile a boost with New England Orthodontic Specialists
We should all strive for good oral health, but this is especially important for orthodontic patients. Taking good care of your teeth and gums will keep your treatment plan on track and help you achieve a beautifully straightened smile. We’re hoping that the guidelines and tips we’ve outlined here will make that easier than ever for you!
Do you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic care? Would you like to learn more about improving your oral hygiene? Get in touch with us today! We’ll be happy to schedule a FREE consultation or follow-up appointment for you in our Beverly, Topsfield, South Hamilton, or Salem office.