Here at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics, we’ve had to make some adjustments throughout the past year. After temporary closings led to longer times between visits, you may be wondering if there are any special tips for caring for your smile between orthodontic visits. Let’s explore how you can best care for your teeth and oral appliances, especially when you have to wait longer than normal to see us in our Charlottesville or Crozet offices! Keep reading below for more information.
Commit to your dental hygiene
While keeping your teeth and gums healthy is always important, it’s absolutely essential for the success of your treatment plan, too. Tooth decay and gum disease may lead to complications in your treatment and can negatively impact 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 a healthy mouth and keep your treatment plan on track:
- Brush at least three times a day, ideally after each meal and before bed.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- 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 undergoing braces treatment, you already know that it can take some skill to maneuver around the brackets and wires to keep your teeth clean. 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 in your mouth, and remember to clean them well with soap and water at least twice a day. Note that toothpaste can damage your aligners due to its abrasive nature; 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.
Follow your orthodontist’s advice!
If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, always wear them exactly as directed by Dr. Hamer or Dr. Glassick. 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 you run out of aligners before your next scheduled appointment, we can arrange a curbside pick-up for the next set. Dr. Hamer and Dr. Glassick are also available for virtual appointments if you have any questions or concerns. These socially distanced options 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 wear 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 hard-earned progress!
Limit your sugar intake
Cavities can negatively affect your treatment, which is unfortunate since most orthodontic procedures tend to exacerbate the risk of cavities. To fight this, avoid sugary foods and drinks as often 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 wearing braces stay prepared for unexpected orthodontic emergencies by keeping a “care kit” around 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 to help dislodge any trapped food particles
- an unsharpened pencil; use the eraser end to push stray wires back into place
Throw these items in a small, portable bag and you’ll have everything you need anywhere you go! 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 due to COVID-19.
Your smile is a team effort at Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics
Even when you’re not physically in our office, we want to make the most of your treatment experience! We want nothing but the best for our patients and hope that this guide provided some guidance to help you care for your smile between orthodontic visits. Our expert team is always 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, get in touch to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Hamer or Dr. Glassick!