Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
Keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy is important for all of us, but it’s an essential part of successful orthodontic treatment. As a new year begins, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your oral hygiene routine and assess if you’re doing everything to ensure a happy mouth. We’re all about creating beautiful smiles here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, and we want to help you keep yours looking and feeling great throughout 2019…and beyond! We’ve put together a collection of tips to up your oral care game below, so keep reading to find out more.
BACK TO BASICS
Most of us have been told since we were small children that brushing and flossing is important, even if we haven’t always listened. But a good dental hygiene routine really is the best, and easiest, way to keep our mouths healthy. In addition to nightly flossing, recommend brushing with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day for two minutes each time. If you’re in braces, it’s particularly important to clean around your brackets and wires carefully. This may not seem like rocket science, but you’d be surprised how many people either don’t know or don’t care about brushing properly! To keep your teeth and gums clean, here are some basic brushing guidelines to follow.
- Brush all your teeth, every time you brush.
- Keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line.
- Brush from the base of the teeth back up to the chewing surface.
- Use short, round strokes for the front and the back of your teeth.
- Use short, sweeping strokes for the chewing surfaces.
- Consistently brush across each tooth, giving equal time to all teeth.
- Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth from back to front.
FIND THE TOOLS THAT WORK FOR YOU
While traditional braces can make brushing and flossing a little more complicated, there are a number of products available to help make the process much easier and more efficient! For example, floss threaders can be an excellent alternative to regular dental floss. It gets its name from threading 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 for a thorough job. If you’d like to try floss threading but aren’t sure how, let us know and we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration the next time we see you.
Interdental brushes also make cleaning your teeth a simpler process, as they can easily fit in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. The same holds true for oral irrigators like the Waterpik. These shoot a targeted, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, getting rid any remaining food debris and plaque in a snap.
Keep in mind that any product like these should be used to supplement your normal brushing and flossing routine, not replace it!
EAT HEALTHY FOODS FOR A HEALTHY MOUTH
Most of us are down to the last of the holiday treats, so it’s a great time to review all the foods you should avoid while you’re in braces. If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics using traditional braces, do your best to keep the following items off the menu for the time being.
- Chewy foods like licorice and bagels
- Hard, crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and hard candy
- Sticky foods like caramels, gum, and fruit snacks
- Foods you have to bite into, such as corn on the cob, raw apples, and carrots
Although this list can feel a little restrictive at times, it’s only temporary. All your hard work will be more than worth it once we reveal your new smile! Fortunately, there are still many delicious foods you can indulge in that are good for your mind, body, and mouth. For instance, milk and other dairy products are delicious, and pack a calcium-filled punch to help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy. Whole grain bread and pastas have complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and they also offer many nutrients to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Chicken, tender red meat, and fatty fish have a lot of phosphorus in them, an important mineral that strengthens and protects the enamel on your teeth. Last but certainly not least, eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body and teeth!
Even if you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your teeth instead of braces, you’ll still benefit from eating nutrient-rich food like we’ve listed above. You should also take care to remove your aligner before every meal and snack, and gently clean it every night.
CARE FOR YOUR MOUTH, EVEN ON THE GO
We recommended that our patients brush and floss after every meal, but that can be hard if you’re out and about! Families today are busier than ever before, so plan ahead for the times you need to care for your teeth and gums on the go. Stock a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, add orthodontic wax to your kit, too. This will give you a quick fix in case of any minor emergencies!
KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR WITH LEAVER & GARDNER ORTHODONTICS
We want you to start and finish this year with a healthy, happy mouth! You can count on our team to create a beautiful smile for you since we do it every day for patients of all ages in Las Vegas, Summerlin, and the surrounding communities. Want to learn more about the best ways to care for your teeth and gums in 2019 and beyond? Get in touch with us today!