Even if you’re already thinking that your New Year’s resolutions are a lost cause, you can still take advantage of the excitement that comes with the start of a brand new year! While many people focus on more traditional resolution topics like weight loss, getting to the gym more often, or saving up for a big summer vacation, we want to draw attention to a subject you won’t hear much about in January: your smile.
There’s something about flipping over the first page on a new calendar that inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. That’s why it’s also the perfect time to review your oral hygiene routine. Because your oral health and overall health go hand in hand, it’s imperative that you do everything you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean. Clauss Orthodontics wants to help you keep your smile looking and feeling great this year, so we’ve put together a few simple tips to give it some extra sparkle in 2019. Keep reading below to learn more!
Get a handle on all the basics
Reminding you of how important it is to brush and floss daily is nothing new. You’ve probably heard the same thing countless times from everyone from your parents and teachers to doctors and dentists. There’s a reason this message is so often repeated, though – it’s because sticking to a good oral hygiene routine really is the best thing you can do to keep your mouth healthy and functioning the way it’s supposed to. And while that may not seem like rocket science, you’d be surprised by how many people don’t actually brush or floss properly!
When it comes to dental hygiene, how you brush and floss is almost as important as how often you do it. In order to remove the bacterial plaque that can cause cavities and tooth decay, there are several basics you should always follow, including:
- 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
- Replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months (or sooner if you’ve had any colds or illnesses)
- Using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes if needed (or if you just feel like you need a little boost!)
While everyone should be concerned about their oral health, this is even more imperative for anybody undergoing orthodontic treatment, especially patients in braces. All the nooks and crannies created by the brackets, gums, wires, and teeth can sometimes make it tricky to clean effectively. Fortunately, there are products available that are designed to make this a simpler process. Interdental brushes fit into those hard to reach spots, removing any missed plaque and food debris, while oral irrigators use a high-pressure, targeted stream of water to further clean and rinse. If you want to add even more oomph to your dental hygiene habits, you can try:
- Replacing your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear
- Brushing around every part of your braces if you wear them
- Bbrushing 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
If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign® rather than traditional braces, be sure you’re removing your aligner every time you eat or drink anything other than water. You should also be wearing aligners 20-22 hours per day and changing them out on the schedule Dr. Clauss has given you. Remember that this is an essential part of the treatment process! You won’t get the results you desire if you don’t stick to the plan.
Choosing healthy foods for a healthy mouth
With so much Valentine’s Day candy already lined up on the supermarket shelves, it’s a good time to talk about the important role food plays in keeping your teeth healthy. It’s also a great reminder about all the items you should be avoiding if you’re in braces! You’ll want to make sure you’re putting the following foods on the back burner until your treatment is complete.
- Chewy foods like fruit snacks and bagels
- Crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and certain types of candy
We know all too well how frustrating food restrictions can be. In fact, they’re often one of the biggest learning curves that come with braces. Thankfully, they’re only temporary, and we guarantee that all your hard work will be worth it when your braces come off and you see your beautiful new smile for the first time! More good news: there are still so many foods out there you can indulge in. Bonus points if you choose those that are good for your mind, body, and your mouth, too!
Take milk and other dairy products, for example. These are braces-friendly, full of calcium, and help your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy. Eating whole grain breads and pastas will give you a hit of complex carbohydrates, providing bacteria with less digestible food to grow on. Tender chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon come chock full of phosphorus, an important mineral that can strengthen and protect the enamel on your teeth. And of course, there’s an entire rainbow of fresh fruit and veggies to explore, giving you everything from vitamins A and C to beta carotene and magnesium. Along with routine care on your part, these minerals go a long way when it comes to maintaining oral health!
If you’re looking for a smile that really shines brightly this year, give some thought to cutting way back on your sugar and soft drink consumption. Because sugar is a carbohydrate, it feeds the bacteria on your teeth, encouraging them to produce acid that causes tooth decay. Soft drinks contain both sugar and acid, so they’re a double threat to the enamel on your teeth, and this combination can be even worse for patients in braces by causing unsightly decalcification if plaque is allowed to collect around the brackets.
Step into 2019 with your best smile ever
At Clauss Orthodontics, we’re invested in creating a beautiful smile for you, but our care doesn’t stop there! We want you to have a healthy mouth, too. Following the easy tips, we’ve listed above will help you get your smile off to a great start this year, but remember that we’re here if you ever need a little extra help or encouragement. We want 2019 to be a year full of positive change and confident smiles, and we’re so excited to share that vision with patients like you!